Kingdom of Thailand
Certainly one of the most charming parts of Thailand
is the ancient Lanna Kingdom, with Chiang Mai as its capital and
best known city. Variously known as the Rose of the North or Thailand's
northern capital, the city still retains its quiet, rural attraction
while providing all the advantages of a well-developed infrastructure
for the comfort and convenience of visitors.
Nestled in a lush valley more than 300 meters above
sea level about 710 kilometers north of Bangkok, Chiang Mai is also
the art and culture center of the Kingdom. You can visit home industries
creating beautiful wood carvings, intricate silver products, the
famouse celadon pottery, hand-woven Thai silks and cottons, hand-painted
umbrellas - and even hand-made paper.
The Burmese influence on the culture of Chiang
Mai is most evident in some of the temples and the fine lacquerware,
as well as the dress and customs of the many hilltribes in the area.
The food too reflects Burmese tastes and you should be sure to include
a Khantoke dinner during your stay.
Founded by King Mengrai the Great as the capital
of the Lanna Thai kingdom by merging the various city states in
the region in 1296. Today Chiang Mai is the economic, communications,
cultural and tourism centre of Northern Thailand.
About 700 kilometres from Bangkok, Chiang Mai is
situated on the Mae Ping River basin some 310 meters above sea level.
Surrounded by high mountain ranges, it covers an area of approximately
20,107 square kilometres. The terrain is mainly jungles and mountains,
parts of which are within national parks which are still fertile
and verdant with plentiful flora and fauna. There are many sites
and locations where tourists prefer to visit to study the lifestyle
of the tribal people who live on high hills.
Wat Phra Sing Located on Sam Lan Road, this lovely
temple dates from 1345 and is one of the focal points of Songkran
festivities each April 13-15 when people bathe the revered Phra
Phutthasihing Buddha image. The temple compound includes the lovely
Lai Kham chapel with its exquisite woodcarvings and northern-style
murals, and a magnificent scriptural repository with striking bas
Wat Suan Dok Located on Suthep Road, this temple
was built in a 1 4th century Lanna Thai monarch's pleasure gardens
and is a favourite spot for photographers, particularly for striking
sunsets. Several of the white Chedis (pagodas) contain ashes of
Chiang Mai' s former royal family. The 500-year-old bronze Buddha
image in a secondary chapel is one of Thailand's largest metal images.
Wat Chiang Man Located on Ratchaphakkhinai Road,
this is Chiang Mai's oldest temple and probably dates from 1296.
The temple was the residence of King Mengrai, who founded Chiang
Mai, and is noteworthy for a Chedi supported by rows of elephantine
buttresses, and a small ancient Buddha image, Phra Kaeo Khao.
Wat Ku Tao This temple is near the Chiang Mai Stadium.
It is noteworthy for an unusual bulbous pagoda. The structure is
decorated with colourful porcelain chips and is believed to represent
five Buddhist monks' alms bowls which symbolise five Lord Buddhas.
Wat Chedi Luang Located on Phra Pokklao Road, this
temple is the site of an enormous pagoda, originally 280 feet high,
and which was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1545. At one
time, Wat Chedi Luang housed the revered Emerald Buddha image now
enshrined in Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaeo. One of the temple's most striking
architectural features is a magnificent Naga (mythical serpent)
staircase adorns the chapel's front porch.
Wat Chet Yot Located on Super Highway, north of
the Huai Kaeo Nimmanhemin Roads intersection. This temple dates
from 1458. The seven spired square Chedi was inspired by designs
at Bodhagaya, the site of the Buddha's Enlightenment in north India
over 2,500 years ago, and was built by Lanna Thai architects after
visiting the holy site.
Wat U-Mong Located on Suthep Road in a bucolic
forest setting, this delightful meditation temple is completely
different from Chiang Mai's other majortemples. Itwas built in 1296.
The ancient Chedi is of particular interest.
Chiang Mai National Museum This is located beside
Wat Chet Yot. The museum houses a collection of Lanna Thai works
of art, ancient Buddha images, and war weapons. It is open daily,
except Mondays, Tuesdays and official holidays, from 9.00 a.m. until
noon, and 1.00 until 4.00 p.m.
OUT OF CITY ATTRACTIONS
CHIANG MAI - LAMPHUN ROUTE (HIGH WAY 106)
Wiang Kum Kam An ancient town founded by King Mengrai
is located 4 kilometres on Chiang MaiLamphun route in the area of
Amphoe Saraphi. The main historical remains are found in Wat Chedi
Liam, Wat Chang Kham' Wat Noi and Wat Kum Kam.
CHIANG MAI - DOI SUTHEP ROUTE (ROAD 1004)
Chiang Mai Arboretum This is next to Chiang Mai
University. The attractively landscaped garden contains many kinds
of tropical trees and lovely flowers.
Chiang Mai Zoo Next to the Chiang Mai Arboretum,
this artfully landscaped complex occupies the lower forested slopes
of Doi Suthep mountain, and contains a fascinating collection of
Asian and African mammals and birds.
Huai Kaeo Falls Located near the Chiang Mai ZOOJ
the cascade provides a delightful ambiance for relaxation and picnics.
Khruba Siwichai Monument This is situated at the
foot of Doi Suthep Mountain. The monument honours the man whose
followers built the first motor road to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep This temple is Chiang
Mai's most important and visible landmark, and overlooks the city
from its forested mountain backdrop. It is 15 kilometres from town,
3,520 feet above sea level, and dates from 1383. The temple is approached
on foot by climbing a steep staircase comprising 290 steps. The
less energetic may ascend by funicular railcars. The temples
golden pagoda contains holy Buddha relics, and attracts Buddhist
pilgrims from all over the world throughout the year.
Phu Phing Palace This is located on the same road,
beyond Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, 22 kilometres from town. The royal
winter palace was built in 1962. The lavishly landscaped gardens
and grounds are open to the general public on Friday, Saturdays
and Sundays and official holidays, when the Thai royal family is
not in residence.
Doi Pui Tribal Village This Meo tribal village
is some 4 kilometres from the Phu Phing Palace, and offers vignettes
of modern tribal life.
WESTERN ROUTE (HIGHWAY No. 1009)
Old Chaing Mai Cultural Centre Located on the road
to Chom Thong, the centre stages Lanna Thai cultural performances
with a Khan Tok Dinner. Objects dart are displayed.
Earthenware & Lacquerware Sheps These are clustered
together, some 4 kilometres from town, on the Chiang Mai-Hang Dong
Wat Phra That Si Chom Thong This temple is 58 kilometres
from Chiang Mai and dates from the'mid-1400s. The temple houses
a collection of bronze Buddha images, and the secondary chapel contains
a holy Buddha relic.
Doi Inthanon National Park Doi Inthanon is Thailands
highest mountain and towers 2,565 metres above sea level. Travel
58 kilometres west of Chiang Mai via Highway 107, by regular coach
to Amphoe Chom Thong and thence by minibus to the peak for a further
distance of 48 kilometres.
Complex mountain ranges and a mild climate characterize
an area with moist and dense summit forest which is the source of
important tributaries of the Mae Ping River, one of northern Thailand's
major waterways. Various streams descend, forming beautiful waterfalls
throughout the park. These include the Siriphum, Vachirathan, Mae
Pan, Mae Klang, and, the largest of all, Mae Ya waterfalls. Meo
and Karen hilltribes inhabit the park.
Visiting the Doi Inthanon National Park is possible
throughout the year. The best period for viewing waterfalls is May
through November. The best period for viewing wild flowers is December
through February. The best period for ornithologists is November
Ban Rai Phai Ngam This is a village where famous
cotton cloth woven in the old style has been long produced. At present
the weavers' central gathering is the home of the late National
Artist, Pa (Aunt) Sangda Bansit, who had transferred her knowledge
on the weaving process to other villagers. The village is located
on the left of Chiang Mai-Hot between Km. 68-69, about 4 kilometres
off the main road.
Op Luang Gorge This picturesque gorge is 105 kilometres
from Chiang Mai provincial capital, and is framed by teak forests
NORTHERN ROUTE (ROAD 1096 & HIGHWAY 107)
Hilltribe Museum Located on Chotana Road, This
contains a permanent exhibition of northern hilltribes. The museum
is open daily from 9.00 a.m.- 4.00 p.m.
Orchid & Butterfly Farms Major nurseries is
located along Mae Rim-Samoeng route (Road No.1096). These farms
include Sai Nam Phung, Mountain Orchid, and Mae Ram Orchid. Each
provides opportunities for visitors admire these exotic year-round
blooms. Certain orchid farms also have special butterfly enclosures
where in exotic species can be seen in their natural environment.
Mae Sa Waterfall This 8-tiered waterfall is 26
kilometres from town and occupies a natural setting among gigantic
Elephant Camps There are riverside enclaves north
of Chiang Mai which feature daily show of elephants at work every
morning. These include Mae Taman, Mae Taeng and Chiang Dao Elephant
Camps on Route No.107, and Pong Yang and Mae Sa Elephant Camps on
Route No.1096 (Mae Rim-Samoeng).
Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden This national botanic
garden is located at Km. 12 of Mae Rim-Samoeng route and covers
an area of 560 acres. It was established in April 1992 in orderto
gather, to conserve, as well as to strengthen studies and research
on Thai plants. More than 700 species of plants with the emphasis
on Thai Flora have been collected.
Resorts Several picturesque resorts, with accommodation
and dining facilities, offer bucolic rural living on the Mae Rim-Samoeng
route and include Mae Sa Valley Resort and Erawan Resort, and the
Samoeng-Hang Dong route which includes Lanna Resort, Krisadadoi
Resort and Suan Bua Resort; Some occupy hillsides, others secluded
Chiang Dao Caves Sacred Buddha images occupy the
caves of Wat Tham Chiang Dao at KM. 72 on Highway 107. Caves are
illuminated by electric lights. Deepest recesses can be explored
with local guides.
Doi Ang Khang This royal agricultural station situated
among beautiful mountainous scenery, provincial capital, 163 kilometres
north of Chiang Mai, is a demonstration site for planting and researching
flowering plants, temperate fruit trees, vegetables and other crops
under the patronage of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Fang Hot Springs Located at Ban Pin, also 163 kilometres
north of Chiang Mai provincial capital, 50 hot springs occupy a
10-acre forest setting. Three boil continuously with a strong smell
of sulphur. Water temperatures at the springs range from 90 to 100
EASTERN ROUTE (ROAD 101)
Bo Sang Umbrella/Parasol Village The world-famous
village is 9 kilometres from town, along a road lined with handicraft-producing
factories. In genuine cottage industries, young women manufacture
silk and cotton umbrellas and paper parasols which are subsequently
hand painted in various animal and floral designs. Generations of
Bo Sang families have been engaged in umbrella and parasol making
for more than 200 years.
San Kamphaeng Cotton & Silk Weaving Village
This equally famous village is located 13 kilometres from town.
The village is the major source of all Thai silk and cotton produced
in Chiang Mai. The fabrics are woven by local folk on traditional
wooden looms, and are sold in a wide variety of plain lengths, plaids,
brocades, stripes, prints and checks.
San Kamphaeng Hot springs This is located 36 kilometres
from town amid natural surroundings of trees and verdant hills.
The water has a high sulphur content and possesses curative and
possesses curative and restorative properties. Accommodation, a
swimming pool, dining facilities and segregated mineral water bathing
rooms are available. Nearby is Rung Arun Hot Spring Resort, which
offers bungalows, mineral baths and a sumptuous park setting.
Hmong, Lisu, Yao, Akha, Lawa and Karen hilltribes
live throughout northern Thailands mountains. They share animist
beliefs and honour numerous forest and guardian spirits. Each tribe
has distinctive ceremonial attire, courtship rituals, games, dances,
agricultural customs, puberty rites, languages or dialects, aesthetic
values and hygienic habits.
Popular "Jungle Treks", lasting from
2 to 7 days, take visitors through forested mountains and high valleys
and meadows, and include visits to remoter high-altitude hilltribe
settlements for overnight stays. The best guides are hilltribe youths
who customarily speak English, Thai and at least three tribal dialects.
Treks commonly feature travel by foot, sometimes
by boat, elephant-back, horse-back or jeep, frequently a combination
of two or three modes of transportation.
Prospective trekkers are advised to shop around
companies offering such tours for the best conditions. All treks
must be registered with the Tourist Police. This is done for trekkers
protection. Avoid companies that do not abide by this law. Visitors
are welcome to enquire from the Tourist Police to confirm which
tour companies have negative or bad reputations, or visit the TAT
Chiang Mai office to obtain a list of registered travel agents.
Also, avoid narcotics, essentially everything from
soft drugs such as marijuana to hard drugs such as opium and heroin
both during travel and at hilltribe villages. There are severe penalties
for such usage.
Wear sensible clothing to protect your limbs and
sleep under a mosquito net at night. Malaria is a real threat, and
sensible precautions should be taken to avoid it.
* Respect hilltribe beliefs and religious symbols
* Dress modestly. Hilltribe people are generally modest. Inappropriate
attire may offend them.
* Ask permission before photographing someone. Some villages do
not permit photography.
* Avoid trading western medicines and articles of clothing. Contributions
to their welfare, items such as pens, paper, needles, thread, cloth
and material used for embroidery are perfectly acceptable.
* Trek prices are determined by the duration of the trip, transportation
modes, meals available and the size of the trekking party. Check
directly with the Chiang Mai TAT office for current information.
Chiang Mai is, quite simply, Thailand's major centre
for quality handicrafts. The visitor need merely visit the nearest
city emporium or night market to purchase handicrafts. A major advantage
of shopping in Chiang Mai is that the visitor may watch artisans
working within the city and in several outlying villages, particularly
along the Bo Sang-San Kamphaeng Road where, in genuine cottage industries,
parasols, silk and cotton weaving, jewellery, woodcarving, silverware'
celadon, and lacquerware are manufactured, and number among popular
Chiang Mai celebrates many annual festivals. Three
are particularly lively and lovely. They are the Flower Festival,
the first Friday and weekend of every February, Songkran, 13-15
April each year, and Loi Krathong on the full-moon night of the
twelfth lunar month, generally in November.
Flower Festival - The 3-day event occurs during
the period when Chiang Mais temperate and tropical flowers
are in full bloom and at their colourful best. Festivities include
colourful floral floats, parades, music and dancing, and beauty
Songkran This festival celebrates the traditional
thai New Year with religious merit-making, pilgrimages, beauty parades,
dancing, merriment and uninhibited, good-natured water-throwing.
Loi Krathong People float away under
the full moon, onto rivers, canals and lakes, banana-leaf boats
bearing a lighted candle, incense, flower and small coin to honour
the water spirits and wash away the previous years misfortunes.