Chiang Mai’s the second biggest city in Thailand and one of the most visited in that country. That’s probably because it’s got a really wide cultural offer, it’s near the main mountains and woods and because it keeps its Thai essence despite growing a lot during the last years.
Chiang Mai is situated 700 km north of Bangkok, the capital, and many has given it the name “The Rose of the North” because it’s... got over 300 temples and wonderful architecture ruins which are known worldwide. Though it has a lot of tourism flow all year long, Chiang Mai is still a quiet place where its past traditional essence remains and keeps it different from Bangkok’s racket. It’s the perfect spot to go deep into Thai culture and to explore its treasures, habits and food. It’s also the starting point to set off towards the wildest areas in the region.
Besides that, the northern Thai people’s kind, cautious and friendly personality makes the visitor feel at home. The inhabitants and their traditions –such as the festivals held in the city, filled with light and color- are one of its central themes. If you travel to Thailand, Chiang Mai and its surroundings are a must see destination.
The city itself offers plenty of things to do in the way of cooking classes, temple visits, street food, and culture. But beyond its boundaries, you'll find natural perfection, awe-inspiring animals, and unique communities deep into the mountains. It's a special city with much to offer us.
A sprawling modern city has grown up around ancient Chiang Mai, ringed by a tangle of superhighways, but if you drive in a straight line in any direction, you'll soon find yourself in the lush green countryside of northern Thailand. A short ride by motorcycle or chartered rót daang ('red truck') will deliver you to pristine rainforest reserves, churning waterfalls, serene forest wát, bubbling hot springs and peaceful country villages – as well as a host of adventure camps, elephant sanctuaries and souvenir markets.
Whether you find yourself passing through or staying for a longer visit, it will never seem long enough and you will soon find yourself planning to visit Chiang Mai, Thailand again.
CHIANG MAI WEATHER
The climate of Chiang Mai is controlled by tropical monsoons and falls into three main seasons. The weather, like in most of Thailand, is typically hot and humid with the temperatures in Chiang Mai are often close to or above to 30°C. From June to late October, you can expect frequent rain and thunder showers.
November to February: This season starts in November and lasts until February. Chiang Mai’s climate remains warm for most of the year and the cooler weather normally only occurs in the northern mountains, therefore tourists often prefer this season.
March to June:The hot season starts from mid-March until late June. Higher relative temperature and infrequent rain are the general characteristic of this season.
July to October: The rainy season in Chiang Mai lasts from July to October. Heavy downpour dominates and flash floods can occur. The temperatures range from 25 to 34 °C.
Getting Around in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai International Airport is the main airport in Chiang Mai and operates both domestic as well as international flights. The airport is located about 3 kilometres south-west of the city centre and there are taxis, buses and other local transport options available to travel between the city and the airport.Domestic airlines, including Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia, and Nok Air, operate several flights daily between Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai Train Station is located about 3 kilometres east of the city centre. Daily trains operate from Bangkok’s Hualamphong Train Station to the Chiang Mai Station and take about 12-15 hours to reach Chiang Mai. The train journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is fairly comfortable and one has the option of travelling first or second class. It is advisable to book tickets in advance to avoid disappointment and last minute rush.
Most buses in Chiang Mai arrive at the Arcade Bus Station from other destinations. Daily buses operate from the Northern Bus Terminal (Moh Chit) in Bangkok and take anywhere between 9 to 12 hours to reach Chiang Mai. These include both government-run buses and buses operated by private transport companies.
A great way to explore the Chiang Mai and to travel outside the city is by hiring cars for self-drive. One can rent cars from several places in the city centre and also at the Chiang Mai International Airport. Thailand is a left-hand drive country and it is a must to have an international driving license to drive in Thailand.
Must see in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Night Safari
A spectacular sight to enjoy for people of all ages is a trip to the Chiang Mai Night Safari. It is one of Thailand's greatest attraction. The Night Safari is essentially a zoo set out like a theme park. For animal viewing it is separated into three main areas. Get a warm welcome from the small & cuddly animals at the walking zone and then board the tram for a trip to the South & North zone.The tram ride gives you the best view of the tiger, lion,zebra & giraffes etc . For the last part of the trip, heads to musical fountain & water screen Laser Light Show.Everyone who has been to the Night Safari agrees that the water show is one of the best ever.To sum it all up, this is a journey into Thailand wildlife.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
The quintessential image of Chiang Mai with its large gilded chedi, visible from the city on a clear day.On top of Doi Suthep Hill, at 3,520 feet above sea level, finds the revered golden Phra That (chedi) of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep rises against the sunlight. The monastery was established in 1383 by King Keu Naone to enshrine a piece of bone said to be from the shoulder of the historical Buddha. The bone shard was brought to Lanna by a wandering monk from Sukhothai and it broke into two pieces at the base of the mountain, with one piece being enshrined at Wat Suan Dok. The second fragment was mounted onto a sacred white elephant that wandered the jungle until it died, in the process selecting the spot where the monastery was later founded. After praying the Phra That for good lucks, don not forget to proceed to the terrace to soak up panoramic views of Chiang Mai town and surrounding countrysides.
Chiang Mai Zoo
Chiang Mai Zoo is a 200- acre zoo located just north of chiang mai University. It is better than many zoos in the region when it comes to animal welfare, and the setting, sprawled across the forested slopes of Doi Suthep, is gorgeous. It is the first commercial zoo is privately operated & included a large variety of animals. In addition, it provided two large aquarium. On october 2008,an aquatic tunnel with a length of 133 metres was opened to the public. It also has a marine aquarium, Which is the largest one in Asia.
Many animals from across the globe, including penguins in their own refrigerated ice-house, the zoo has several special exhibits requiring separate admission, including an impressive aquarium, the panda and the snow dome where locals come for their first taste of the cold stuff. Many enclosures sell bananas and other healthy snacks for the animals; kids will love the ruckus of feeding emus and other exotic beasties.
Wat Suan Dorg
The fourteenth century temple of Wat Suan Dok is located just west of the old city walls on Suthep Road. The temple was built by King Keu Na of Lanna for a revered priest visiting from Sukhothai as a place for the monk to spend the rains retreat. The name of the temple roughly translates to "field of flowers." The main chedi is a gilded, bell-shaped structure that rises dramatically above a sea of immaculate white memorial chedi honouring members of the Thai royal family, with the misty ridge of Doi Suthep soaring behind.Wat Suan Dok is also a temple where you can try to learn more about Buddhism, through their "monk chat" program.
Doi Suthep National Park
Looming over the city like guardian spirits and providing a sanctuary of forest and mountain cool air, Chiang Mai's sacred peaks, Doi Suthep (1676 m) and Doi Pui (1685 m) were used by the city's founders as a divine compass in locating an auspicious position.It covers a 262-square-meter verdant forest and mountain ranges in three districts of Chiang Mai. Attractions in this national park include Huai Kaew Waterfall and Kru Ba Sri Wichai monument tribute to a Buddhist monk who successfully initiated the construction of a road to the peak of Doi Suthep, which was completed in 1935.. Among the major hills: Doi Suthep, Doi Buak Ha, and Doi Pui, Doi Suthep is perhaps the best known as its peak is the location of a sacred Wat Phra That Di Suthep and the golden pagoda that shrines against the sun.Forests in the park consists of evergreen forest on higher altitudes above 1000 meters and deciduous forest on lower parts with some mixed deciduous-evergreen forest occurring in gullies and along streams.There are nearly 2000 species of ferns and flowering plants, nearly 300 species of birds and number of mammal species.During the rainy season, butterflies bloom as abundantly as the flowers., so keep your camera at the ready to capture any wildlife encounters.