Attraction in Thailand : Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai
Chiang Rai
Khamphaeng Phet
Mea Hong Son
Nakorn Sawan

Chiang Mai is Thailand's principal northern city. Chiang Mai is the provincial capital of a largely mountainous province, also called Chiang Mai, which is some 20,000 square kilometers in area. Chiang Mai City is 700 kilometers north of Bangkok, was founded in 1296, and is located in a fertile valley some 300 meters above sea level. Chiang Mai was the capital of Lanna Thai (Kingdom of One Million Rice fields), the first independent Thai kingdom within the fabled Golden Triangle. Chiang Mai flourished as a major religious, cultural and trading center until 1556 when a Burmese invasion reduced it to a vassal state. The Burmese were expelled in 1785, whereupon Lanna Thai once again became part of northern Thailand. Many lowland Thais regard Chiang Mai City and province as being something of a national Shangri-la, thanks to its beautiful women, distinctive festivals, historic temples dating from the 1300s, arresting scenic beauty, temperate fruits such as apples peaches and strawberries, and a crisp, invigorating cool season climate.

Attractions - in the city

Wat Phra Sing - 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 Buddha Sihing 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-relief.

Wat Suan Dok - Suthep Road

This temple was built in a 14th century Lanna Thai monarch's pleasure gardens and is a favorite spot for photographers, particularly for striking sunsets. Several of the white chedis contain ashes of Chiang Mai's former royal family. The 500-year-old bronze Buddha images in a secondary chapel is one of Thailand's largest metal images.

Wat Chiang Man - Ratchaphakhinai 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 - near Chiang Mai Municipal Stadium

This temple is noteworthy for an unusual bulbous pagoda. The structure is decorated with colorful porcelain chips and is believed to represent five Buddhist monks' alms bowls, which symbolize five Lord Buddhas.

Wat Chedi Luang - Phrapokklao 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. A magnificent Naga staircase adorns the chapel's front porch.

Wat Chet Yot - Super Highway, north of the Huai Kaeo, Nimmanhemin Roads intersection

This temple dates from 1458. The sevenspired 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 - Suthep Road

This delightful meditation temple is completely different from Chiang Mai's other major temples and enjoys a bucolic forest setting. The ancient chedi is of particular interest.

Chiang Mai National Museum - near Wat Chet Yot

The museum houses a collection of Lanna Thai works of art, ancient Buddha images, and war weapons.

Attractions - out of the city


Tribal Research Institute

This contains a permanent cultural exhibition of northern hill tribes.

Chiang Mai Arboreum

The attractively landscaped garden contains many kinds of tropical trees and lovely flowers.

Chiang Mai Zoo

This artfully landscaped complex occupies the lower forested slopes of Suthep Mountain, and contains a fascinating collection of Asian and African mammals and birds.

Huai Kaeo Falls

The cascade provides a delightful ambiance for relaxation and picnics.

Khruba Sriwichai Monument

This monument honors the man whose followers built the first motor road to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in 1935.

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. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is 15 kilometers from town, 3,520 feet above sea level, and dates from 1383. The temple is approached on foot by climbing a steep Naga staircase comprising 290 steps. The less energetic may ascend by funicular railcars. The temple's golden pagoda contains holy Buddha relics, and attracts Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world throughout the year. The temple compound offers an exhilarating view of Chiang Mai City and surrounding countryside.

Phu Phing Palace

This is located on the same road, beyond Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, on Doi Buak Ha, 22 kilometers from town. The royal winter palace was built in 1962. The lavishly landscaped gardens and grounds are open to the general public on Fridays, 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 kilometers from the Phu Phing Palace, and offers vignettes of modern tribal life.

Pha Dam (Black Cliff)

This area near Wat Phra That Doi Suthep comprises a scenic spot ideal for picnics.


Old Chiang Mai

Cultural Center

Located on the road to Chom Thong, the center stages Lanna Thai cultural performances with a Khantoke Dinner. Objets d'art are displayed.

Earthenware & Lacquer ware Shops

These are clustered together, some 4 kilometers from town, on the Chiang Mai- Hang Dong Road.

Wat Phra Borommathat Si Chom Thong

This temple is 58 kilometers 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.

Mae Klang Waterfall

Chiang Mai's most photographed waterfall lies some 58 kilometers west of the city at the foot of Doi Inthanon Mountain, and provides a picturesque setting for picnics and relaxation.

Borichinda Cave

Visiting the cave, which provides a pleasant setting for picnics, entails a 10-minute drive and a walk of some 2 hours from the Mae Klang Waterfall.

Mae Ya Waterfall

This is located 12 kilometers from Chom waterfalls in Thailand.

Ob Luang Gorge

This picturesque gorge is 88 kilometers from Chiang Mai provincial capital, and is framed by teak forests and mountains.

Doi Inthanon National Park

The 1,005-square-kilometer park covers Thailand's highest mountain (2,565 meters). The lovely Wachirathan, Siriphum and Mae Pan waterfalls share the mountain with Meo and Karen hill tribe settlements. Forest above 1,800 meters is covered with lichens and wild orchids.


Lanna Golf Course

This public 18-hole golf course is located on the Chiang Mai-Mae Rim Road, some 4 kilometers from town. The course is open daily from 6.00 AM until 7.00 PM. Golf club rentals and caddy services are available.

Chiang Mai Green Valley Golf Course

This is located some 16 kilometers from town along the same road, and is open to the public.

Orchid & Butterfly Farms

Major nurseries in the Mae Sa Valley include the Mountain Orchid, Mae Rim Orchid and Sai Nam Phung Orchid complexes. Each provides opportunities for visitors to admire these exotic year-round blooms. Certain orchid farms also have special butterfly enclosures wherein exotic species can be seen in their natural environment.

Mae Sa Waterfall

This 8-tiered waterfall is 26 kilometers from town and occupies a natural setting among gigantic, towering trees.

Elephant Training Centers

Each morning, at Km 10 on the Mae Rim- Samoeng route, trained elephants demonstrate their formidable and highly valued forestry skills from 9.30 until 11.00 AM, at the Mae Sa Elephant Training Center. The center is some 30 kilometers from town. Elephants can also be seen at the Pong Yaeng Elephant Center at KM 19 on the same route, and the Elephant Nature Park at Mae Taman on the Chiang Mai-Fang Road, some 57 kilometers from Chiang Mai.

Taeng Dao Elephant Camp

This riverside enclave, features daily shows of elephants at work, from 9.00 AM until 10.00 AM, and from 10.00 AM until 11.00 AM. Elephant rides and opportunities for bucolic river rafting through largely pristine and tranquil forests, or jungle treks to neighboring hill tribe settlements.

Chiang Dao Caves

Sacred Buddha images occupy the caves of Wat Tham Chiang Dao. Caves are illuminated by electric lights. Deepest recesses can be explored with local guides.

Doi Ang Khang

This royal agricultural station, 163 kilometers north of Chiang Mai provincial capital, is a demonstration site for planting and researching flowering plants, temperate fruit trees, vegetables and other crops, and enjoys the patronage of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Fang Hot Springs

Located at Ban Pin, also 163 kilometers north of Chiang Mai provincial capital, and 50 hot springs occupy a 10-acre forest setting. Three boil continuously with a string smell of sulfur. Water temperatures at the springs range from 90 to 100 degrees Celsius.


Bo Sang Umbrella/Parasol Village

The world-famous village is 9 kilometers from town, along a road lined with handicraft producing factories. In genuine cottage industries, young women manufacture silk and cotton umbrellas and paper parasols that 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 kilometers 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 kilometers from town amid natural surroundings of trees and verdant hills. The water has high sulfur content and possesses curative and restorative properties. Accommodation, a swimming pool, dining facilities and segregated mineral water bathing rooms are available.


Meo, Lisu, Yao, Akha, Lawa and Karen hill-tribes live throughout northern Thailand's mountains. They share animist beliefs and honor 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 hill-tribe settlements for overnight stays. The best guides are hill-tribe youths who customarily speak English, Thai and at least three tribal dialects. Treks commonly feature travel by foot, sometimes by boat, elephant-back, horseback 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.


Chiang Mai is quite simply, Thailand's major center for quality handicrafts. The visitor need merely visit the nearest city emporium or night market to purchase an extraordinary variety of antiques, silver jewelry, hill-tribe opium pipes and embroidery, Thai silks and cottons, basketry, celadon, silverware, furniture, lacquer-ware, woodcarvings and parasols. 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, jewelry, woodcarving, silverware, celadon and lacquer-ware are manufactured.

Major Chiang Mai products include:

Cottons & Silks

First-class Chiang Mai cottons and silks are of incomparable quality. Cottons and silks have innumerable fashion and furnishing applications. The largest possible selection is available in San Kamphaneg.


These are inextricably associated with Bo Sang where villagers have been engaged in their manufacture for at least 200 years. All materials, silks, cottons, sa paper (manufactured from the bark of the mulberry tree), and bamboo are produced or found locally. Visitors to Bo Sang will see literally hundreds of designs and sizes ranging from the miniature to the gigantic.


The finest Thai silverware is exquisite, and is made in Chiang Mai, where certain families have practiced their art for several generations. Traditional skills and a guaranteed content of at least 92.5% pure silver invest bowls, receptacles and decorative items with authentic value. Silver shops are concentrated on Wua Lai Road, where silverware artisans and their families live.


Striking black and gold designs give Lacquer-ware its visual appeal and sheen. This decorative art enhances items made of wood, bamboo, metal, paper and baked clay, in the form of receptacles, ornaments and various souvenirs.


Chiang Mai's Ban Thawai village in Hang Dong district, is a major center of furniture making. Major woods and materials include teak, rosewood and rattan. Items may be unadorned or, especially with teak and rosewood, artfully carved in traditional or modern designs. Woodcarving is a traditional northern Thai art featured in numerous temples. In recent years, woodcarving has increasingly embellished furniture, gracing screens, chairs, tables, beds, indeed anything bearing a wooden surface large enough to be carved. Carved elephants figurines and tableware number among other popular purchases.

Hill-tribe Products

These include silver ornaments, such as bracelets, necklaces, pendants, hairpins and pipes of intricate design, and embroidered items including tunics, jackets, bags, purses, caps and dress lengths.

Gold Plated Orchids & Butterflies

Orchids and butterflies are preserved and plated with 24-karat gold to create unusual gift items such as necklace pendants, hairpins and earrings.


Chiang Mai is the major center of Thailand's pottery industry. Prized items include high-fired celadon, which is produced in many forms, including dinner sets, lamp bases and decorative items.

Major Events & Festivals

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 Mai's temperate and tropical flowers are in full bloom and at their colorful best. Festivities include colorful floral floats, parades, music and dancing, and beauty pageants.

Songkran Festival

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 Festival

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 honor the water spirits and wash away the previous year's misfortunes.

The Bo Sang Umbrella Fair & San Kamphaeng Handicrafts Festival

Each January celebrates traditional skills and features contests, exhibitions, stalls selling umbrellas and other handicrafts, and the selection of a Miss Bo Sang.