About Chiang Mai
Cultural Heritage of Chiang Mai
On a mountain overlooking Chiang Mai is Wat Doi Suthep, an impressive temple with a famous golden pagoda. As well as being a popular pilgramage site, it also attracts many visitors due to its fantastic views across over Chiang Mai. This is just one of many temples within the city, so days can be well spent wandering the ancient streets, temple spotting. The streets are indeed ancient as a trip to the old city of Wiang Kum Kam will atest.
The city of Chiang Mai is on the banks of the river Ping. Set back from the riverside is the older walled city, surrounded by a moat. While the moat is still full of water, little remains of the walls, with the highlight at Thapae gate, the Eastern gateway.
One of the most popular stopping points for tourists visiting Chiang Mai is the Night Bazaar, where every night the area between the moat and the river comes alive with street vendors, stalls as tourists search for souvenirs and items beautifully created by local the craftmen. Traditional products include silverware, lacquerware, woodwork, umbrellas, hand carved soaps and many more. Some of the products are made on site so shoppers can enjoy learning how the craftsmen work. Others come from the famous craft village of Sam Kampaeng - a short tour from the city where a pleasant afternoon can be spent viewing and buying local traditional products. A little further from the city is Ban Tawai which is perhaps most famous for its beautiful teak furniture.
Surrounding Chiang Mai
The city is surrounded by beautiful mountains and valleys, which are home to a growing number of beautiful golf courses and resorts, all lending themselves to a location thats rapidly gaining a reputation as a world class golfing destination. Day trips from the city include tours to visit hill tribes, Doi Inthanon (the highest point in Thailand), the caves at Chiang Dao, hot springs at San Kamphaeng, the historical city of Lamphun, Elephant riding in Maerim, bamboo rafting in Mae Taeng or into the Doi Suthep mountain range. The more adventurous might be tempted to take on a bungee jump, go paintballing or off road quadbiking. Any of these tours can be arranged directly through this site.
Overnight tours from the city can take you into the golden triangle famed for the opium trade in the border area with Laos and Myanmar. Now as well as a musuem to the trade, visitors can cross the border to Laos and Myanmar. Alternatively take a tour to Mae Hong Son, the home of the Karen hill tribe, famous for their long decorated necks. A day tour south of Chiang Mai takes visitors to Sukhothai, another former capital of Thailand who's ruins are now well preserved.
Here is lots of fast facts about Chiang Mai, and Thailand. If you want more information why not check out our booklist?
Thailand uses the Baht. Paper currency includes a 1,000 (grey), 500 (purple), 100 (red), 50 (blue), and 20 (green) baht note. Money can be changed in many locations, at banks, airports or in tourist locations. Most places accept credit cards and travellers checks.
Thailand is tropical and so hot and humid! There are 3 seasons, the hot season (March-June), the rainy season (June-October) and the cool season (November-February). Chiang Mai, being located in the north, is cooler than Bangkok or southern regions.
Tourist Visas can be obtained on arrival lasting for 30 days.
Thailand is GMT+7.
Thai's unsurprisingly speak Thai! But, in Chiang Mai, sometimes the locals will use a northern dialect. While most people you might encounter in tourist areas will be able to communicate in English, being able to say some basics is always useful, check out our quick language guide. Note that if you are a male or female you may need to say something different!
- Sawatdii Krap/Ka - Hello (m/f)
- Kob Khun Krap/Ka - Thank-you (m/f)
- Mai Aow Krap/Ka - I don't want (m/f)
- Rong Raam - Hotel
- Sa Nam Bin - Airport
- Khao Pad Gai - Fried Rice with Chicken (in case you get really stuck!)