Chiang Mai- Blooming Rose of Thailand
General Information on Chiang Mai
Fondly called ‘Rose of the North’ Chiang Mai is 700 km north of Bangkok, capital city of the state with the same name. Home to large number of happy expats, Chiang Mai is rated as one of the 10 most livable cities in Asia, thanks to its open policies, mild weather, overall affordability and people’s easy co-existence. It is the main tourist attraction for its natural attractions, religious places and high rated tourist activities. The city was originally founded in 13th century, old walled city is the witness of ancient times.
Why Visit Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai flourishes on tourism that revolves around its cultural sites, heritage, elephant rides, National park experience, cascading waterfalls and live sightseeing. Chiang Mai skyline is dotted with pagodas, ancient houses & lanes reminiscent of an era went by centuries ago. In addition to the cultural and historical legacy, there is contemporary unlimited fun in Doi Suthep- Pui National park with waterfalls, lush green landscapes, elephant valley or Mae Sa Valley, botanical garden, adventure safaris and animal shows etc. Chiang Mai also has innumerable galleries, beautiful parks and upstart markets.
How to reach Chiang Mai
BY AIR– Chiang Mai International Airport is 11 km from Chiang Mai city, regular flights from Bangkok and other international destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore fly in and out.
BY TRAIN– Take an overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, normally it takes 11 hours to reach. Trains are comfortable and cost effective way to reach here.
BY BUS– Good luxury buses are available every hour from Bangkok for Chiang Mai, they take 10 hours to reach there.
While booking online be careful as name Chiang Mai applies to both state and the city. Old town district of Chiang Mai is the best option to stay as you can find good and affordable hotels and guest houses in this area. You can explore the city easily from here on foot or on bicycle. For lesser rates you will have to go far or across the river to stay.
Best Time to visit
Best time is, when weather is cool between November to February. Hot season is between March to June, and green season or rainy season is between July to October.
Cuisines in Chiang Mai
The food here is exotic as it has influence of several countries. Cuisines- Haeng Hang Lay- Burmese sweet curry, Kanom Jeen Nam Ngeow- rice vermicelli with soybean curry, Khao Soi-egg noodle curry, Khan Toke with rice, Sai Oua- grilled herb sausage, Nam Prik Ong/ nume-chilli dip, Miang kham – bite sized leaf wrapped snacks, Tam Khanun- jackfruit salad, Larb Kua- shallow fried spicy meat salad and Gaeng Ho- mixed curry.
Main attractions in Chiang Mai
Doi Suthep- Pui National park
Is a national park located 15 km from Chiang Mai. Named after the twin mountains, the national park is spread in 265 sq. km area. The main attraction of the park is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a 14th century built sacred temple followed by many Thais as pilgrimage. Doi Suthep is also the name of the mountain where it is located on its top. Its main features are its pagodas, golden mount, Buddha statues and other many statues and artifacts. Forests is on hilly landscape, having few vantage points, caves, waterfalls, bounty of nature and flora & fauna. 2000 species of ferns and flowering plants, 300 species of birds and mammals such as boars, Indian Muntjac or barking deer, Assam macaque, Asian golden cat and Asian black bear are few among the lot.
Chiang Mai Zoo
When talking of animal upkeep and welfare this zoo takes the cake. Spread on the forested mountain slope this zoo is simply amazing. Animals are kept here in their natural surroundings but in safety for precise display. There is one refrigerated cold environment where penguins live, is a hit with the spectators. Then there is one remarkable aquarium also. One can use zoo monorails and shuttle buses for sightseeing.
Wat Phra Singh
This is Chiang Mai’s best known and most revered temple, pilgrims make beeline here to pray Lion form of Buddha, a graceful idol said to be brought from Sri Lanka in 14th century. During the Songkran festival this statue becomes the center of attraction.
Wat Chet Yot
Known as ‘temple of the seven spires’ the temple was built in line with Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, where Buddha attained enlightenment. The architecture of the edifice is diverse with essentials from Thai, Laos, India and Chinese style. A 15th century temple, is known to be the focus of pilgrimage for the one who is born in the snake year.
Chiang Mai Night Safari
An ambitious Thailand government’s project following the Singapore model, Chiang Mai Night safari is classified to three zones, Savanna Safari, Predator bowl and Jaguar trail- where you walk or ride atop open tram. While on the safari you are kept entertained by various activities right from feeding animals by your own hands, touching tiger cubs or watch laser show or fun plaza’s musical fountains.
Wat Chedi Luang
Huge pagoda or Chedi is its unique feature that makes a distinct marking on Chiang Mai’s skyline with 80-meter tall pagoda. It was once housed emerald Buddha, the most important Thai emblem.
Mae Sa Elephant Camp
The elephants at the Mae Sa Elephant Camp are no ordinary pachyderms. Apart from going about their daily routine as tamed elephants doing their rituals, these tremendously bright animals have been trained to paint, play football, dance and perform to show their talent, that will amaze you to the hilt. Thai elephants are in Guinness World Record for their activities.
Bo Sang Handicrafts Village
The umbrellas are the identity of craftsmanship in Chiang Mai, the craft is known across the world for the handcrafted, hand painted colorful all sized umbrellas. Interestingly, these are made from Sa paper made from the bark of mulberry tree.
Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Center, Chiang Mai National museum, Art Museum, Museum of world insects & Natural wonders, Postal museum and Art in Paradise are the museum here.
In February end this awesome flower festival is organized, that is amazing show.
Other activities in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai offers lot for the tourists of all ages in outdoor activities, such as trekking, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, elephant riding even mahout course, white water rafting, kayaking and night safaris. Also tenpin bowling, tennis, golf, swimming and kick boxing camps. More serene activities include cooking courses, meditation, yoga, tai chi and even shopping.
Chiang Mai is an ultimate place for culture and modernity presented in just the right proportion, its pocket friendly life is just the icing on the cake for the tourists.