When you think about a holiday to Thailand the first thing that comes to mind are Bangkok and its great beaches and islands. They have proved very popular with huge numbers making Thailand one of the top destinations in Asia. Thailand has far more than the things and places mentioned and after you have read this Chiang Mai travel guide you are likely to agree.
Chiang Mai is the main city in the Northand capital of the Province of the same name. While the city itself has a population of just 170,000 there are a million inhabitants within the vicinity as a whole. The City sits on a plateau at an altitude of 1,000 feet below mountains and lush vegetation. It was founded towards the end of the 13th Century and was fairly inaccessible until a century ago. Even now one of the real charms of Chiang Mai remains its location; a place to relax or be active without the bustle of large city life. The climate is more temperate than other parts of Thailand and nights are very pleasant after a hot day.
The route from Bangkok, the usual city of entry to Chiang Mai is the busiest domestic air route in the Country while bus and rail connections are also good, if the journey is a little longer! This Chiang Mai travel guide identifies the main attractions:
• The 14th Century Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep with its golden domeis out of town at an elevation of over 3,000 feet on the slopes of Doi Suthep. The views down over Chiang Mai are great on a clear day though there are plenty of steps to climb before you can truly enjoy them. There is a cable car that mean you can avoid the 300 stairs if you prefer.
• The Phuping Royal Palace Gardens are a little further down the road from Wat Prathat with a hill tribe village close by.
• Many of the main temples of Chiang Mai are in walking distance of each other. They come in various architectural styles which demonstrate the various cultural influences on Northern Thailand. The Old City is fairly small and easy to walk around if the temperatures are not too high.
• The Sunday night walking street market from Tha Phae Gate to the popular Wat Phra Singh, a temple constructed at the end of the 14TH Century.
• Wat Chiang Man is the oldest royal temple in the city and has two Buddha images which legend says are 1,800 and 2,500 years old.
Those interested in the history and culture of Chiang Mai will certainly be able to learn more in the City’s museums. AChiang Mai travel guideprovides a flavour of this part of Northern Thailand and the museums help to give those on a Chiang Mai holiday a means to increase their knowledge by visiting these museums:
• Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre
• Chiang Mai National Museum
• Chiang Mai Numismatic Museum(Treasury Hall)
• Chiang Mai University Art Museum
• Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders
• Postal Museum
• Art in Paradise, Gardens and Nature
Inevitably in such a nice environment there are several places to visit that offer this environment at its best:
• Mae Sa Waterfall
• Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens
• Royal Flora Ratchaphruek
• Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand is in Chom Thong District and is almost 8,000 feet above sea level. Anyone wanting to visit and go even a little way up should have warm clothing with them even in the hottest weeks.
The natural environment and the chance of an active holiday is one of the reasons for a Thailand tour andheading to Chiang Mai. There are plenty of things to do including hiking, climbing, mountain biking, rafting, fishing and with a Thai massage at the end of a grueling day.
As an alternative and this is recognised in the Chiang Mai travel guide there are plenty of opportunities to shop, day and night, in malls and markets, great cuisine to sample and the chance to learn a little about actually preparing and cooking Thai food. There is actually a huge variety of food available in Chiang Mai, reflecting the number of people on Thailand tour packageswanting a little of home during their holiday; Italian, German, American and Japanese are all well covered as are tourists wanting vegetarian food. There is a well-developed nightlife in Chiang Mai with plenty of good restaurants, bars and clubs that are popular with all ages as well as live music for all tastes.
Few people with limited travel experience will have ridden on the back of an elephant. This is a highlight in Chiang Mai and the beauty of doing this within an organised tour is that you can be certain that the welfare of the elephants is a top priority. Sanctuaries for elephants rescue elephants and provide income and employment for locals.
Thai people are naturally friendly and depending on the dates of your Thailand travel you may well come across one of the many festivals. When you consider that Christmas, Easter and royal events are also a reason to celebrate there is a good chance of enjoying at least one of these special events:
• Bo Sang Umbrella & Sankampang Handicrafts Festival (January)
• Orchid Fair(January)
• Chiang Mai Flower Festival (February)
• Songkran Festival is the Thai Water Festival at Thai New Year in late spring.
• Inthakin or Tham Boon Khan Dok is a six-day festival in early summer.
• Loi Krathong and Yi Peng Festivals (November) thanks the Goddess of Water with locals putting a small raft with a lit candle and flowers into the water at various points in the City.
This Chiang Mai travel guide is merely an introduction to Chiang Mai City, the Province and Norther Thailand. A few days here provide an excellent contrast to Bangkok or the many delights of Thailand’s extensive coastline. Thailand is currently the top destination in Indochina though tourists are increasingly realising that it has the potential to provide memorable holidays as a whole.