Thailand’s “Rose of the North” is a cultural and natural wonderland with ethnic diversity, a multitude of attractions, and welcoming hospitality.
Chiang Mai literally means “new city” and has retained the name despite celebrating its 700th anniversary in 1996. King Meng Rai the Great founded the city as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom on Thursday, April 12 1296 around the same time as the establishment of the Sukhothai Kingdom. King Meng Rai even conferred with his friends, King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Phayao before choosing the site where the capital of the Lanna Kingdom was to be founded. Henceforth, Chiang Mai not only became the capital and cultural core of the Lanna Kingdom, it was also to be the center of Buddhism in northern Thailand, King Meng Rai himself a very religious leader who even founded many of the city’s temples that remain important to this day.
Chiang Mai is one of the few places in Thailand where it is possible to experience both historical and modern Thai culture coexisting side by side: the city features centuries-old chedis and temples next to modern convenience stores and boutique hotels. This dichotomy is best appreciated within the moat-encircled old city, which retains much of the fortified wall that once protected the city center as well as the four main gates that provided access to the former Lanna capital city.
Strangely, for many years tourists had mistaken Chiang Mai simply as the base from which they could plan trekking and rafting trips to hill tribe villages and explore other provinces. Once in Chiang Mai however, tourists are surprised by the fact that there are so many things to discover other than its beautiful and historic temples.
Intriguing diversity among ethnic tribes, a number of elephant camps, many cooking & massage schools, numerous outdoor activities, a variety of handicrafts workshops, various cultural performances, and breathtaking scenery make Chiang Mai one of Asia’s most attractive tourist destinations. The phrase “a day in Chiang Mai is enough to see things around town” was once a common expression. Today, two weeks in Chiang Mai may not be long enough for travelers to experience all that Chiang Mai has to offer.
The old city of Chiang Mai is a showcase of the north’s fascinating indigenous cultural identity that includes diverse dialects, a delectable cuisine, distinctive architecture, traditional values, lively festivals, numerous handicrafts workshops, northern style massage, and classical dances. Chiang Mai city features old-world beauty and charm as well as modern luxury and convenience.
In addition to centuries old temples and some outstanding shopping opportunities, Chiang Mai is also blessed with pristine natural resources including mountains, waterfalls, and rivers. The presence of numerous hill tribes that feature a wealth of unique cultures enhances Chiang Mai’s distinctive diversity. Hill tribe trekking, often combined with river rafting and elephant riding has always been one of Chiang Mai’s greatest tourist attractions. Nowadays there are innumerable activities and attractions both in the city and the surrounding province, including massage instruction and golf.
Moreover, visitors can visit workshops where they can learn about the production of silk or silver, and purchase memorable, hand crafted souvenirs. With such a diverse range of attractions and an equally grand selection of dining and accommodation options, Chiang Mai is a place where both backpackers and luxury tourists can enjoy the ultimate Thailand holiday.
#Many elephant camps do not engage in Elephant-friendly practices. Avoid patronizing camps that exploit Thailand’s elephants.
#Patronizing the Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Training Center in Mae Hong Son benefits both villagers and the authenticity of native arts.
#The admission fee for the Chiang Mai Zoo is not inclusive of the fee to visit the Pandas.
#If you plan on arriving in Chiang Mai during the Songkran festival (April 13-15) make sure you pack everything in plastic prior to placing it in your luggage.
Chiang Mai Zoo
Time: 08.00 – 21.00
Chiang Mai Zoo is located next to Huai Kaeo Arboretum. It is a well-managed large zoo, which occupies the lower forested slopes of Doi Suthep Mountain. The zoo contains more than 200 types of Asian and African mammals and birds. The most popular star here is a couple of panda, the friendship Chinese ambassador. The zoo provide mono-rail service within the area of 2 kms. Additional, the twilight zoo is open 6.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m. The newly aquarium on its area 10 rais, which housed the longest underwater automatic tunnel of Asia with 133 meters, and will accommodate both sea and river fish and animal from various areas; such as the upper mountain ranges of Northern Region, Khong River Basin, Amazon River Basin, the plain land of mangrove and from the underwater world. It is open everyday from 8.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. Admission fee for adult is 100 baht, and children fee is 20 baht. Restaurants and a camping site are available. For more details or advance booking contact Tel: 0 5322 1179, 0 5322 2283 www.chiangmaizoo.com