Welcome to Chiang Mai Thailand
Chiang Mai, the City of Life & Prosperity of its own unique culture and
nature with 715 years old city (Ancient Kingdom of Lanna)
Chiangmai is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand, and is the capital of Chiang Mai Province. It is located 700 km (435 mi) north of Bangkok, among the highest mountains in the country. The city is on the Ping river, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya river.
In recent years, Chiang Mai has become an increasingly modern city and attracts approximately 1 million visitors each year. Chiang Mai gained prominence in the political sphere in May 2006, when the Chiang Mai Initiative was concluded here between the ASEAN nations and the “+3” countries (China, Japan, and South Korea). Chiang Mai’s historic importance derived from its strategic location on the Ping river and major trade routes. The city has long been a major center for handcrafted goods, umbrellas, jewelry (particularly silver) and woodcarving.
While officially the city of Chiang Mai only covers most parts of the Mueang Chiang Mai district with a population of 150,000, the urban sprawl of the city now extends into several neighboring districts. This Chiang Mai Metropolitan Area has a population of nearly one million people, more than half the total of Chiang Mai Province.
King Mengrai founded the city of Chiang Mai (meaning “new city”) in 1296, and it succeeded Chiang Rai as capital of the Lanna kingdom. The ruler was known as the Chao. The city was surrounded by a moat and a defensive wall, since nearby Burma was a constant threat. With the decline of the Lannathai kingdom, the city lost importance and was often occupied either by the Burmese or Thais from Ayutthaya. Because of the Burmese wars that culminated in the fall of Ayutthaya in April 1767, Chiang Mai was abandoned between 1776 and 1791. Lampang then served as the capital of what remained of Lannathai. Chiang Mai formally became part of Siam in 1774 by an agreement with Chao Kavila, after the Thai King Taksin helped drive out the Burmese. Chiang Mai then slowly grew in cultural, trading and economic importance to its current status as the unofficial capital of northern Thailand, second in importance only to Bangkok.
The inhabitants speak Kham Muang (also known as Northern Thai or Lanna) among themselves, though Central Thai is used in education and is understood by everyone. English is used in hotels and travel-related businesses and many educated people speak English. The Kham Muang alphabet is now studied only by scholars, and Northern Thai is commonly written with the standard Thai alphabet.
The modern municipal dates to a sanitary district (sukhaphiban) that was created in 1915. This was upgraded to a municipality (thesaban) on March 29 1935, as published in the Royal Gazette, Book No. 52 section 80. First covering just 17.5 km2 (7 sq mi), the city was enlarged to 40.216 km2 (16 sq mi) on April 5, 1983.
Chiang Mai Attractions
Home to more than 300 temples, boundless natural beauty and mushrooming wildlife, Chiang Mai is a wonderful place to visit. There are plenty of tourist attractions which make the city a favorite for both domestic and foreign tourists.
A city that has something special for each tourist, Chiang Mai will simply charm you over with its diversity. The tourist attractions in Chiang Mai will appeal to you, irrespective of your area of interest. If you are a nature lover, there are a number of wildlife reserves that showcase the myriad forms of flora and fauna thriving in the region.
If you are interested in adventure, Chiang Mai has offers a choice of a number of activities like trekking, bird watching, mountain biking, bamboo rafting and so on. If you have come here to seek relaxation, then the spa resorts will make your holiday extremely special and refreshing.
There are numerous museums and archeological sites that are popular Chiang Mai tourist attractions. They provide an insight into the history and culture of the city. The temples are true relics of people’s beliefs and faith. Most of these temples are built in accordance with Buddhism.
Wat Chedi Luang is one of the most popular Chiang Mai Tourist attractions. This temple complex houses a large Lanna-style stupa that dates back to 1441. Wat Chiang Man has a stone slab inscription engraved in the year 1581. There are two images of Lord Buddha, enclosed in a glass cabinet.
Doi Sutherp is a spectacular mountain range located in tourist. The Chiang Dao Caves are well-known tourist attractions, especially for adventurers. A set of five caves consist of age-old images of Buddha and are perfect for trekking and exploration.
Bo Sang Umbrella Village is a handicraft center where you can shop for different kinds of umbrellas. Hand made by local artistes, these umbrellas come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.
Chiang Mai Weather
Being a mountainous region, Chiang Mai weather varies considerably in comparison to other parts of Thailand. However, the moderate and cool weather is a big allure for locals and tourists alike.
Chiang Mai does not experience too many variations between day and night time temperatures. Due to its higher elevation, the city’s weather can be quite unpredictable at times.
The weather of Chiang Mai can be clearly divided into three seasons – hot, rainy and cool. Summers begin at the early March and go on till the end of May. During this period, temperatures range between 17’C and 36’C. During the daytime, the average temperature is around the 30′ Celsius mark. April is the hottest month in the region.
By the end of March, the surrounding valley becomes hazy and the rainy season sets in. Sometimes, short and violent storms bring in winds and rains that provide a relief from the dryness. The rainy season lasts between June and October. In this season, the average daytime temperature is about 25’C, with September being the wettest month. The afternoons experience short and intense rainstorms that get cleared by the evening.
The period from November to February is the cool season in Chiang Mai. Temperatures are slightly low at nighttime. At higher altitudes, temperatures even drop to near freezing levels.
The information on weather in Chiang Mai will guide you about the kind of clothing and precautions to be taken during your trip there.
Chiang Mai People and Culture
The people and culture in Chiang Mai provide a deep insight into the heritage and tradition of the place.
Chiang Mai Province consists of a population of 1,670,317 (This number from Department of Provincial Administration, Dec 2008) live in the city. The people of Chiang Mai are of mixed origin. The Mon was first the first group of traders that joined the inhabitants of Chiang Mai, and founded a new region. By the 13th century, Tai became the dominant ethnic group in the region.
Burmese came to Chiang Mai in the 16th century and brought in their culture and traditions. In the later half of 19th century, a number of Chinese and Muslims also migrated to the place. Thus, people of Chiang Mai are a mixture of various world cultures.
The ethnic language spoken here is kham muang. Theravada Buddhism is the main religion followed by the people of Chiang Mai. Islam and Christianity are also followed by some ethnic communities in the city.
The culture of Chiang Mai is deep-rooted in traditionalism, yet in sync with modernity. The city is home to numerous art centers that promote the artworks of local artistes. Silverwork, bamboo work, woodcarving, etc are some of the local forms of handicrafts that are extremely popular.
Various Thai festivals and events are celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm as per the culture of Chiang Mai. The architecture of the buildings in the city is a fine blend of western and oriental influences, styles and methods.
The dances in Chiang Mai’s culture are expressions of birth, death and daily life of its people. Local music is deep and soothing and touches the hearts of listeners.The culture of the city is sure to leave an inerasable impression in the minds of tourists.
Chiangmai named ‘World’s #2 Best City’ by Travel + Leisure magazine
Voters don’t lie! Bangkok named ‘World’s Best City’ by Travel + Leisure magazine
And as an added bonus for Thailand’s embattled tourism industry, Chiang Mai has grabbed the number two spot in the annual reader poll 9 July, 2010
If you need further proof of Bangkok’s global supremacy, check out our list of 50 reasons why it is indeed the greatest city in the world. .
Travel + Leisure Magazine has released its 2010 “World’s Best” list, with Bangkok voted as the top city in the world, followed by Chiang Mai, in the annual poll voted on by the American luxury travel magazine’s readers.
We’re quite certain there has to be a bit of celebrating going on in the offices of Thailand’s Tourism Authority, which has been battling hard to bring back the tourists following the recent unrest in Bangkok. (Though it must be noted the Travel + Leisure survey was completed before this year’s mass protests.)
Rounding out the top 10 on the “World’s Best City” list are Florence, San Miguel de Allende (Mexico), Rome, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Oaxaca (Mexico), Barcelona and New York City.