the merging of the past into the present in Chiang Mai where locals
are proud of the city's 700-year history. Its rich traditional
heritage and unique culture is a perfect foundation for the
development of the city. Chiang Mai is one of the few places in
Thailand where it is possible to find in the heart of the city
centuries-old chedis and temples next to modern convenience stores
and boutique hotels. The original city layout still exists as a neat
square surrounded by a moat with vestiges of the fortified wall and
its four main gates offering prime access to the old town.
For years, tourists have mistaken Chiang Mai as the northern
junction and the base from which they can explore other provinces.
The phrase "a day in Chiang Mai is enough to see things around" was
common. Today, tourists are surprised by the fact that there is
always something new to discover Chiang Mai. Intriguing diversity
among ethnic tribes coupled with breathtaking scenery makes Chiang
Mai one of Asia's most attractive tourist destinations. Two weeks in
Chiang Mai may not be long enough for serious travelers.
The old city of Chiang Mai with its fascinating indigenous cultural
identity such as diverse dialects, cuisine, architecture,
traditional values, festivals, handicrafts and classical dances is a
prime location in its own right. In addition, the presence of hill
tribes and their wealth of unique cultures enhance Chiang Mai's
Mai is also blessed with pristine natural resources of mountains (dois),
waterfalls, and other nature-based tourist attractions. At the same
time, Chiang Mai residents are warm, gracious and congenial
providing authentic hospitality making visits memorable and
meaningful. Moreover, visitors from all walks of life can collect
handicrafts of silk, silver and wood produced locally as timeless
souvenirs. Chiang Mai is a place where both backpackers and luxury
tourists can enjoy themselves to the fullest.
Mai literally means new city and has retained the name despite
having celebrated its 700th anniversary in 1996. King Meng Rai
founded the city as the capital of the Lanna (A Million Rice Fields)
Kingdom on Thursday, 12th April 1296 during the same period of time
as the establishment of the Sukhothai Kingdom. King Meng Rai the
Great 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.
From then, Chiang Mai not only became the capital and cultural core
of the Lanna Kingdom, it was also the centre of Buddhism in northern
Thailand. King Meng Rai himself was very religious and founded many
of the city's temples, which are still important today.
the height of its power, the Lanna Kingdom extended its territory
far into Burma and Laos, and southwards to Kamphaeng Phet a province
The Burmese conquered the Lanna Kingdom in 1556 ending the dynasty
founded by King Meng Rai that lasted over 250 years. As Burma had
occupied Chiang Mai for nearly 200 years, Burmese architectural
influences are visible in many temples. At the end of the 18th
century, King Taksin the Great regrouped the Thais in the south and
finally drove the Burmese out with the help of King Kawila of
Lampang thereby regaining Thai independence from Burma. Chiang Mai
was then governed by a succession of princes who ruled the north as
a Siamese protectorate under the Chakri dynasty. In the late 19th
century, King Rama V appointed a high commissioner in Chiang Mai and
it was only in 1939 that Chiang Mai finally came under the direct
control of the central government in Bangkok the same time the
country was renamed Thailand.
In the past, Chiang Mai was only accessible by river and elephants.
More convenient access was achieved only when the railway line was
completed in the late 1920's. Moreover, the first motor vehicle
driven directly from Bangkok arrived in Chiang Mai in 1932. Such
isolation was more favorable to Chiang Mai as it helped to nurture
and preserve the unique Lanna culture.
When we look at Chiang Mai today, it is the economic, cultural and
communications hub of northern Thailand complete with excellent
infrastructure, good roads, by passes and road tunnels, and reliable
Mai, with an altitude of approximately 310 meters above sea level,
is situated approximately 700 kilometers from Bangkok on the Mae
Ping River basin. Surrounded by high mountain ranges, the city
covers an area of approximately 20,107 square kilometers and is the
country's second largest province. Chiang Mai borders Myanmar on the
north, Lamphun and Tak Provinces on the south, Chiang Rai, Lampang
and Lamphun Provinces on the east and Mae Hong Son Province on the
west. The terrain is mainly comprised of jungles and mountains,
which are home to the hill tribes. In addition, wildlife and exotic
flora may be found in the national parks.
of Chiang Mai's mountains are oriented from north to south. Together
they create a multitude of streams and tributaries including Mae
Chaem, Mae Ngat and Mae Klang. One of Chiang Mai's distinctive
features is Doi Inthanon, Thailands highest peak, which is 2,575
meters above sea level. In addition, the province boasts flat,
fertile valleys, which spread along the banks of the largest and
most important river in Chiang Mai Mae Nam Ping (Ping River) which
originates from the Chiang Dao mountain range.
Phra That Si Chom Thong Temple
This temple is situated approximately 58 kilometers from
the town in Chom Thong District. The temple can be dated back to the mid-1400s
and houses a collection of bronze Buddha images while the secondary chapel
contains a holy Buddha relic.
Doi Inthanon National Park
national park which covers an area of 1,005 square kilometers is located
on Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain which is 2,565 meters above
sea level. Located between Mae Chaem and Chom Thong, the park is
comprised of the largest tract of upper mountain forest which ranges
across Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and ends in Northern Thailand. The
mountain ranges gave birth to the main tributaries of the Ping river and
formed the beautiful waterfalls, namely Siriphum, Wachirathan, Mae Pan,
Mae Klang and Mae Ya. The moist and dense evergreen forest is abundant
with lichens and wild orchids. The park is also a paradise for bird
Visiting Doi Inthanon is possible throughout the year however, the best
period for viewing the waterfalls is May through November while the best
period for viewing wild flowers is December through February and for
ornithologists is November through March.
Getting there: Travel 58
kilometres west of Chiang Mai via Highway No. 108 to Chom Thong, then
turn right into Highway No. 1009 and continue a further distance of 48
kilometres along Highway No. 1009 to the summit. A good asphalt road
takes visitors up but is rather steep, thus the vehicle must be in a
good condition. Visitors could pay for the entrance fee at Km. 8.
Doi Inthanon can be reached by a local truck (Song Thaeo) from Phra That
Chom Thong or Mae Klang Waterfall. The Song Thaeo runs to Doi Inthanon
National Park Office (Km. 31) and neighbouring villages. A chartered
Song Thaeo costing around 800 baht can make stops at other attractions
around the area.
Admission : adult 400 baht, child 200 baht
Accommodation, restaurants, and camping sites are available at the park
headquarters at Km. 31. Tel: 0 5335 5728, 0 5326 8550, 0 5326 8550, 0
5326 8577 Bangkok Tel: 0 2562 0760 or www.dnp.go.th
Attractions in Doi Inthanon National Park
Namtok Mae Ya is one of the most beautiful cascades in
Chiang Mai. Water flows from a 280-metre steep cliff onto different rock
formations in a lower basin like drapes. The well-managed waterfall is
teeming with verdant forests and is best for recreation. It is located 1
kilometre from Highway No. 1009 junction, turn left for 14 kilometres
and then take a 200-metre walk.
Namtok Mae Klang is a 100-metre one-level waterfall
located 8 kilometres from Highway No. 1009 junction and turn left onto
an asphalt road for 500 metres.
Tham Bori Chinda is a large cave located near Namtok
Mae Klang at Km. 8.5 of Highway No. 1009. The road sign to Tham Bori
Chinda will be seen at the junction on the right. The deep cave has
stalactite and stalagmite formations, Buddha images and a rocky stream.
The surface of the water glitters like diamonds flake when light
reflects the stream. Sunlight in the cave allows visitors to see the
The Tourist Centre at Km. 9 has exhibits on nature and
animals that inhabit the area.
Namtok Wachirathan is a large waterfall which plummets
over the edge of a high cliff into a deep pool below. When there is a
large amount of water, there are large splashes in the basin, creating a
cool and refreshing environment. The delightful ambience can be felt by
walking on a slippery bridge that leads to the waterfall. To get there,
turn right off Highway No.1009 at Km. 21, then follow the signpost to
the waterfall a further 350 metres on foot. At Km.20 a new road is built
to reduce the walk to the waterfall.
Namtok Siriphum is a splendid waterfall that falls from
a steep cliff in two lines and can be seen en route to Doi Inthanon. The
attractive waterfall is located at Km. 31 of Highway No. 1009, take a
right turn for 2 kilometres and is approachable only on foot from the
base of the waterfall.
Doi Inthanon Royal Project is in Khun Klang village
close to the park headquarters. The project was initiated in 1979 to
help the hill tribes to cultivate cash crops other than opium and train
them on modern agricultural practices. Most produces are temperate zone
plants. Flower plantations, a plant breeding research lab and flower
plantations of hill tribes (Hmong) are open to visitors.
Phra Mahathat Napha Methanidon and Phra Mahathat Naphaphon
Phumisiri, twin pagodas located at Km. 41.5, were built to commemorate
the fifth cycle birthdays of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit.
Both pagodas share the similar bases as well as a two-level walking path
that surrounds them. The pagodas enshrine Lord Buddha’s ashes and Buddha
images, and overlook the magnificent scenery of Doi Inthanon.
Doi Inthanon Peak has a cool climate all year round.
The Air Force Radar Station and King Inthawichayanon’s stupa located on
the mountaintop. King Inthawichayanon, the last king of Chiang Mai, was
concerned about the importance of forests and wanted to preserve the
forests for future generations. He was so familia with Doi Inthanon that
he asked that part of his ashes be kept here. The Tourist Information
Centre, near the top of Doi Inthanon, exhibits a chronological
background of the mountain, including its geography, biology, forests,
Namtok Mae Pan is the longest waterfall in Chiang Mai,
which flows from a 100-metre cliff. Its charm can be enjoyed by standing
some distance from the falls. From afar, the white water and the green
forests around the falls make a beautiful picture. From Km. 38 of
Highway No. 1009, drive along the Doi Inthanon-Mae Chaem road (Highway
No. 1192) for 6 kilometres and a sign to the waterfall will be seen,
then drive on an unpaved road for 9 kilometres. The lovely waterfall can
be reached by a ten-minute walk from a parking lot. In the rainy season,
the road to Namtok Mae Phan is in a poor condition; only a four-wheel
vehicle could make the journey.
Namtok Huai Sai Lueang is beyond Namtok Mae Pan, about
21 kilometres from Doi Inthanon-Mae Chaem Road. Turn left to an unpaved
road where only a four-wheel vehicle could make a trip in the rainy
season. The medium-size cascade has water all year round and flows from
a cliff to each level.
Natural Study trek on Doi Inthanon Kiu Mae Pan starts
from Km. 42. This short trail, winding through pristine forest for about
2.5 kilometres, a 3-hour walk, allows the hiker to experience the
natural beauty of the forest at first hand. The Rhododendrons, commonly
found in the Himalayas, are found along the trail and they are in full
bloom during December-February. Trekkers on this route should seek
permission from the park headquarters at Km. 31 for safety reasons. A
group of not more than 15 people is recommended. Food consumption is not
allowed while trekking. This nature trail is closed for reforestation
from June 1 to October 30 annually.
Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail was surveyed and designed by
Mr. Michael MacMillan Walls, a Canadian volunteer biologist who devoted
to his work and died from a heart attack on this mountain. This trail is
360 metres long, passing through wet and cold areas in a lush valley.
Forest above 2,000 metres is covered with lichens and wild orchids.
Indigenous plants that needs a high level of nutrition, organic
deposits, and rare species of birds are seen along the trail.
There are more nature trails on Doi Inthanon, each providing different
views of the diversity of plants, reforestation, the importance of
tributaries, the origin of caves, hilltribe agriculture, and
birdwatching. Walking trails range from 1 to 8 kilometres. Each trip
needs approval from the Chief of the National Park and a trekking leader
is needed. The service is obtained at the Park Office at Km. 31.
Birdwatching on Doi Inthanon Inthanon
Birdwatching Information Centre (Uncle Daeng’s Shop) is
located at Km. 31. This is a bird information exchange centre among
birdwatchers, nature students and the general public. The information
details the habitat and food of birds and animals living on Doi Inthanon.
The aim is to pass on this knowledge to the next generation. It also
provides the Doi Inthanon Birdwatching Diary, bird sketches by various
bird watching experts, birdwatching trails, bird pictures, and slides.
Winter is the best time for birdwatching when indigenous and migrant
birds are found including Eurasian Woodcock, White Wagtail, Grey
Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, Forest Wagtail, Chestnut
Thrush, Scarlet Finch, Little Bunting, and Crested Bunting.
Chiang Dao Cave
Tham Chiang Dao is a charming cave located in Amphoe Chiang Dao. It is
situated 72 kilometres from Chiang Mai town, turn left at the entrance
route and proceed for 5 kilometres on an asphalt road. Convenient
parking is available. Climb a staircase with a zinc roof to reach the
cave. The lovely cave greets visitors with various kinds of fish
swimming in a stream in front of the cave.
Touring in and around Tham Chiang Dao with a
local guide is possible by contacting local guides in front of the
cave. A service fee is charged.
Ban Hmong Mae Sa Mai
Hmong village has preserved their simple but splendid traditions and
lifestyles. The village can be reached by taking a left turn at Km.12
and proceeding for 7 kilometers. Only four-wheel vehicles in good
condition can make the trip. Along the route, you can visit resorts
which are open to visitors, including Mae Sa Valley, Mae Sa Resort
(offers a 9-hole golf course), and Kangsadan Farm.
Ang Khang Royal Project
Location: Ban Khum, Mae Ngon sub-district, Fang District,
Chiang Mai. Tel. 0 5345 0107-9 Fax. 0 5345 0106
Located in the valley of Doi Ang Khang, the station is
designated for conducting experiments on possible temperate plants to be grown
in Thailand. The experiment is aimed at promoting the cultivation of cash crops
to replace hill tribes opium plantations. Inside the station, there are
beautiful landscaped flower gardens, a restaurant and plantations. Advanced
contact is recommended for a group visit with lecturers available upon request.
Facilities include guesthouses (inside the station), food and beverage, parking
space, toilets, etc.
In addition, there are many guesthouses and a hotel
located around the station. The entrance fee is 50 bahts per vehicle (including
driver) and admission fee of 30 bahts per person. The morning market in front of
the station, which is the hill tribes market, is stunning and charming.
Doi Tao Lake
The lake is located approximately 133
kilometers from Chiang Mai town along the Chiang Mai-Hot-Doi Tao route. This
large reservoir is actually situated above the Bhumibol Dam in Tak province. The
lake offers many recreational opportunities during the rainy and cool seasons,
including rafting and cruise services to Bhumibol Dam. Accommodations are also
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
would say, You havent really gone to Chiang Mai unless youve been to Wat
Phratat Doi Suthep. Truly, the place is the most important and famous
Chiang Mai landmark. Built in 1383, this mountaintop temple has a chedi
(pagoda) that houses holy Buddha relics. The gold-plated chedi lies in
the middle of a square marble-tiled courtyard. The four corners of the
chedi are adorned with parasols which represent royal regalia. The
temples courtyard is lined by a cloister, which contains images and
murals depicting Buddhas life. There are also two viharns situated in
the middle of the east and west sides of the cloister.
This temple is 15 kilometers from town and is 3,520 feet above sea
level. It is the perfect place to get a birds eye view of the city. The
temple can be reached via a steep Naga staircase comprised of 290 steps
or railcars. The temple is open daily from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
To get there, drive along Huay Kaew Road up the
mountain. Alternatively, there are song thaew services available at the
foot of the mountain. It costs 30 baht/head to go up to Doi Suthep and
approximately 50 baht/head to go further to Doi Pui and Phu Phing
Palace. Note that these are one-way fares. (This is the added text)
How to get there
By Car from Bangkok (approximately 8 hours)
Route 1: Drive on Highway No.1
(Phahonyothin) and turn left to Highway No.32 (Asian Highway) which
passes Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Ang Thong, and Nakhon Sawan, then
take Highway No. 117 to Phitsanulok and Highway No. 11 to Lampang,
Lamphun and Chiang Mai. The total distance is 695 kilometers.
Route 2: From Nakhon Sawan,
take Highway No. 1 passing Kamphaeng Phet, Tak, Lampang, and Chiang
Mai. Total distance is 696 kilometers.
There are ordinary, 2nd class and 1st class
air-conditioned buses leaving for Chiang Mai daily (8.00 a.m. to
09.00 p.m.) from the Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Mochit 2 Bus
Terminal). Call 02 936 3600, 02 936 2852, and 02 937 8055 for a more
updated bus timetable. Private buses, which can be conveniently
booked in tourist-oriented places in Bangkok, are also available.
However, the public buses from the Northern Bus Terminal are
generally more reliable. The journey takes approximately 10-12
hours, depending on traffic.
From Chiang Mai
If you travel to any districts in Chiang Mai,
use Chang Phuak Bus Terminal located on Chotana Road, tel. 053 211
586. Destinations include those located along the northern route
(Highway No. 107) which passes through Mae Rim, Mae Taeng, Chiang
Dao, Chaiprakan, Fang and Mae Ai. Some buses continue to Tha Ton,
the northern-most province of Chiang Mai.
If you wish to travel outside the province,
use Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Station. Contact tel: 0 5324 2664 for a
more updated bus timetable. Destinations include Golden Triangle,
Mae Sai, Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai, Nan, Phayao, Phrae, Lampang,
Lamphun, Phitsanulok, Sukhothai, Mae Hong Son (both old and new
routes), Mae Sot, Mae Sariang, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima
(Khorat), and Udon Thani.
Express and rapid trains operated by the
State Railways of Thailand leave for Chiang Mai from Bangkoks Hua
Lamphong Station 6 times a day from 8.00 a.m.-10.00 p.m. The trip
takes about 11-12 hours for express trains. For more information,
contact tel. 1690, or 02 223 7010, 02 223 7020. Chiang Mai Railway
Station, tel. (053) 24 2094, 244 795, .247 462 245 363-4
Domestic airlines including Thai Airways,
Bangkok Airways, Air Asia, Nok Air, Orient Thai Airlines, Air
Andaman and Phuket Air operate several flights daily between Bangkok
and Chiang Mai.
Thai Airways also operates domestic flights
from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai and Phuket.
International flights to and from Chitakong, Luang Phrabang,
Khunming, Yangon and Japan (Narita) are also provided. Call 02 628
2000 (Bangkok), 053 211 044-7 (Chiang Mai), or visit
Bangkok Airways also offers several flights
daily on the Bangkok - Chiang Mai route, some with a stopover at
Sukhothai. International routes to and from Jinghong and XiAn are
also available. Call 02 265 5555, 265 5678 (Bangkok Office) or 053
27 6176 (Chiang Mai Office) or visit
www.bangkokair.com for more
SGA offers flights to Chiang Mai. For more
information, call Bangkok Office 66 2664-6099 or visit:
For Nok Air call 1318 or visit
www.nokair.co.th for reservations. Apart from Bangkok-Chiang mai
flight, the airlines also operate flights between Chiang mai and
Udon Thani twice aweek.
For Orient Thai Airlines, call 02 267 2999 or visit
Foreign Airlines operating flights from
Chiang Mai to several destinations are:
Air Mandalay operates flights between Chiang Mai and Yangon on
Sundays and Thursdays. Contact 053 818 049 (Chiang Mai office),
www.myanmars.net/airmandalay or write to
email@example.com for more information.
Mandarin Airlines operates flights between
Chiang Mai and Taipei three times a week on Tuesday, Friday and
Saturday. For more information call, 053 201 268-9 (Chiang Mai
office) or visit
Lao Airlines operates flights on the Chiang
Mai Luang Phrabang route three times a week on Tuesday, Friday and
Sunday. Call 053 223 401 (Chiang Mai office), visit
write to firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information.
Silk Air operates flights between Chiang Mai
Singapore three times a week on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Call 053
276 459 053 276 495 (Chiang Mai office) or visit
Travelling within Chiang Mai
From Airport, Train and Bus Terminal
There is a licensed airport taxi service
available at the taxi kiosk outside the baggage-claim area. Purchase
a ticket and present it to the drivers waiting by the arrivals exit
area. The trip will cost approximately 100 bahts for a sedan car
that seats 4-5 people (with luggage).
From the airport, train station and bus
terminal, you can easily get a song taew (red mini-bus). To charter
a minibus or car, please check the correct fare at the TAT counter
Normally, first-class hotels provide
complimentary transportation between the airport, railway station or
bus terminals and the hotel for guests who have made advance
1. For relative short distances you can take
a sam lor or tuk-tuk (a tricycle). Fares must be bargained in
advance. Short rides within the city costs between 20 and 30 bahts.
Longer rides may cost as much as 50 bahts.
2. Just new in town is the taxi-metre, the
same as those running around Bangkok. The minimum (starting) fare is
3. Song taew (red mini-bus) is the most
common means of transportation in town. Passengers can hop in and
out as they wish. Simply tell the driver the destination and
negotiate the price before boarding. Fares range from 10-20 bahts
depending on the distance.
Some travelers prefer to ride a bicycle around the city as most of
the roads and alleys are accessible by bicycle. Bicycles can be
rented from bicycle shops and certain guesthouses.
5. Rental cars
All major car rental companies such as AVIS, Budget, and Hertz, as
well as Thai car rental companies are ready to provide suggestions
on travel itineraries. The easiest way to locate a car rental
company is to ask at the airport or the hotel, as those are the
places where most companies are located.
Chiang Mai roads are in good condition with
signs posted in English. Why not take a car for a spinω