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Chiang Mai Information

Chiang Mai Information by E-Biz Travel; Thailand Travel and
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 Chiang
Mai
Introduction
Chiang Mai
is Thailand’s principal northern province. It is some 700 kilometres
north of Bangkok and covers an area of 20,000 square kilometres. The
city is located in a fertile valley some 300 metres above sea level.
Chiang Mai was founded
as the capital of Lanna Thai (Kingdom of One Million Ricefields) in
1296. It flourished as a major religious, cultural and trading centre
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 as
being something of a national Shangri-la, thanks to its distinctive
festivals, historic temples dating from the 1300s, arresting scenic
beauty, temperate fruits and a crisp, invigorating cool season climate.

The people of Chaing Mai
enjoy one of the most distinctive cultural identities in the whole of
Thailand. Largely farmers and artisans, they have their own lilting
dialect, their own indigenous handicrafts, their own dances and their
own distinctive cuisine. Hilltribes also lend a great deal of character
and colour to the crisply beautiful mountainous landscape.

Attractions
CITY
ATTRACTIONS
Wat Phra Sing Located
on Sam Lan Road, this lovely temble dates from 1345 and is one of the
focal points of Songkran festivities each April 13-15 when people bathe
the revered Phra Phutthasihing Buddha 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 Located on Suthep Road, this temple was
built in a 14th century Lanna Thai monarch’s pleasure gardens and is
a favourite 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 image in a secondary chapel is
one of Thailand’s largest metal images.

Wat Chiang Man Located
on Ratchaphakkinai 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 This temple
is near the Chiang Mai Stadium. It is noteworthy for an unusual bulbous
pagoda. The structure is decorated with colourful porcelain chips and
is believed to represent five Buddhist monks’ alms bowls which symbolise
five Lord Buddhas.

Wat Chedi Luang Located
on 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. One of Wat Chedi Luang’s
most striking architectural features is a magnificent Naga staircase
adorns the chapel’s front porch.

Wat Chet Yot Located on
Super Highway, north of the Huai Kaeo Nimmanhemin Roads intersection.
This temple dates from 1458. The seven-spired 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 Located on
Suthep Road in a bucolic forest setting, this delightful meditation
temple is completely different from Chiang Mai’s other major temples.
It was built in 1296. The ancient chedi is of particular interest.

Chiang Mai National Museum
This is located beside Wat Chet Yot. The museum houses a collection
of Lanna Thai works of art, ancient Buddha images,and war weapons. It
is open daily, except Mondays, Tuesdays and official holidays, from
9.00 a.m. until noon, and 1.00 until 4.00 p.m.

 

OUT-OF-CITY ATTRACTIONS

Chiang Mai-Lamphun Route (Highway No. 106)

Wiang Kum Kam An ancient town founded by
King Mengrai is located 4 kilometres on Chiang Mai-Lamphun route in
the area of Amphoe Saraphi. The main historical remains are found in
Wat Chedi Liam, Wat Chang Kham, Wat Noi and Wat Kum Kam.

Chiang Mai-Doi Suthep
Route (Road No.1004)

Tribal Research Centre Located in the Chiang Mai University
Campus, this contains a permanent cultural exhibition of northern hilltribes.
The centre is open, Monday through Friday, from 8.30 a.m. until noon,
and from 1.00 to 4.30 p.m.

Chiang Mai Arboretum This
is next to Chiang Mai University. The attractively landscaped garden
contains many kinds of tropical trees and lovely flowers.

Chiang Mai Zoo Next to
the Chiang Mai Arboretum, this artfully landscaped complex occupies
the lower forested slopes of Doi Suthep mountain, and contains a fascinating
collection of Asian and African mammals and birds.

Huai Kaeo Falls Located
near the Chiang Mai Zoo, the cascade provides a delightful ambiance
for relaxation and picnics.

Kruba Sriwichai Monument
This is situated at the foot of Doi Suthep Mountain. The monument honours
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. It is 15 kilometres
from town, 3,520 feet above sea level, and dates from 1383. The temple
is approached on foot by climbing a steep 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.

Phu Phing Palace This
is located on the same road, beyond Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, 22 kilometres
from town. The royal winter palace was built in 1962. The lavishly landscaped
gardens and grounds are open to the general public on Friday, 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 kilometres 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.

Western Route (Highway
No. 1009)

Old Chaing Mai Cultural
Centre
Located on the road to Chom Thong, the centre stages
Lanna Thai cultural performances with a Khan Tok Dinner. Objects d’art
are displayed.

Earthenware & Lacquerware Shops
These are clustered together, some 4 kilometres from town, on the Chiang
Mai-Hang Dong Road.

Wat Phra That Si Chom Thong
This temple is 58 kilometres 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.

Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Inthanon is Thailand’s highest mountain and towers 2,565 metres
above sea level. Travel 58 kilometres west of Chiang Mai via Highway
107, by regular coach to Amphoe Chom Thong and thence by minibus to
the the peak for a further distance of 48 kilometres.

Complex mountain ranges and a mild climate
characterise an area with moist and dense summit forest which is the
source of important tributaries of the Mae Ping River, one of northern
Thailand’s major waterways. Various streams descend, forming beautiful
waterfalls throughout the park. These include the Siriphum, Vajirathan,
Mae Pan, Mae Klang, and, the largest of all, Mae Ya waterfalls. Meo
and Karen hilltribes inhabit the park.

Visiting the Doi Inthanon National Park
is possible throughout the year. The best period for viewing waterfalls
is May through November. The best period for viewing wild flowers is
December through February. The best period for ornithologists is November
through March.

Ban Rai Phai Ngam This
is a village where famous cotton cloth woven in the old style has been
long produced. At present the weavers’ central gathering is the home
of the late National Artist, Pa (Aunt) Sang Da Bansit, who had transferred
her knowledge on the weaving process to other villagers. The village
is located on the left of Chiang Mai-Hot between Km. 68-69, about 4
kilometres off the main road.

Op Luang Gorge This picturesque gorge is 105 kilometres from Chiang
Mai provincial capital, and is framed by teak forests and mountains.

Northern Route (Road
No. 1096 off Highway No. 107)

Orchid & Butterfly
Farms
Major nurseries is located along Mae Rim-Samoeng route
(Road No.1096). These farms include Sai Nam Phung, Mountain Orchid,
and Mae Ram Orchid. Each provide opportunities for visitors admire these
exotic year-round blooms. Certain orchid farms also have special butterfly
enclosures where in 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 giganic towering trees.

Elephant Training Centres
Each morning, at Km. 10 on Mae Rim-Samoeng route, some 30 kilometres
from town, trained elephants demonstrate their formidable and highly-valued
forestry skills from 9.30 until 11.00 am, at the Mae Sa Elephant Training
Centre. A jungle tour on elephant back, lasting more than two hours
through adjacent forests, is offered after the show. Elephants at work
can also be seen at the Pong Yaeng Elephant Centre at Km. 19 on the
same route, and the Elephant Nature Park at Mae Taman on the Chiang
Mai-Fang Road, some 57 kilometres from Chiang Mai.

Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden
This national botanic garden is located at Km. 12 of Mae Rim-Samoeng
route and covers an area of 560 acres. It was established in April 1992
in order to gather, to conserve, as well as to strengthen studies and
reserch on Thai plants. More than 700 species of plants with the emphasis
on Thai Flora have been collected.

Taeng Dao Elephant Camp
This riverside enclave, at km. 56 on Highway No. 107, features daily
shows of elephants at work, from 9.00 a.m. and offers elephant rides,
and opportunities for bucolic river-rafting through largely pristine
and tranquil forests, or jungle treks to neighbouring hilltribe settlements.

Chiang Dao Caves Sacred
Buddha images occupy the caves of Wat Tham Chiang Dao at KM. 72 on Highway
107. Caves are illuminated by electric lights. Deepest recesses can
be explored with local guides.

Doi Ang Khang This royal
agricultural station situated among beautiful mountainous scenery, provincial
capital, 163 kilometres north of Chiang Mai, is a demonstration site
for planting and researching flowering plants, temperate fruit trees,
vegetables and other crops under the patronage of His Majesty King Bhumibol
Adulyadej.

Fang Hot Springs Located
at Ban Pin, also 163 kilometres north of Chiang Mai provincial capital,
50 hot springs occupy a 10-acre forest setting. Three boil continuously
with a strong smell of sulphur. Water temperatures at the springs range
from 90 to 100 degrees Celsius.

Eastern Route
(Road No.101)

Bo Sang Umbrella/Parasol Village The world-famous
village is 9 kilometres from town, along a road lined with handicraft-producing
factories. In genuine cottage industries, young women manufacture silk
and cotton umbrellas and paper parasols which are subsequently hand
painted in various animal and floral desings. 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 kilometres
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 kilometres from town amid natural surroundings of
trees and verdant hills. The water has a high sulphur content and posseses
curative and restorative properties. Accommodation, a swimming pool,
dining facilities and segregated mineral water bathing rooms are available.

Trekking
Tour
Meo, Lisu, Yao, Akha, Lawa
and Karen hilltribes live throughout northern Thailand’s mountains.
They share animist beliefs and honour 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 hilltribe settlements
for overnight stays. The best guides are hilltribe youths who customarily
speak English, Thai and at least three tribal dialects.

Treks commonly feature travel by foot, sometimes by boat, elephant-back,
horse-back 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. Avoid companies that do not abide by this law. Visitors
are welcome to enquire from the Tourist Police to confirm which tour
companies have negative or bad reputations, or visit the TAT Chiang
Mai office to obtain a list of registered travel agents.

Also, avoid narcotics, essentially everything
from soft drugs such as marijuana to hard drugs such as opium and heroin
both during travel and at hilltribe villages. There are severe penalties
for such usage.

Wear sensible clothing to protect your
limbs and sleep under a mosquito net at night. Malaria is a real threat,
and sensible precautions should be taken to avoid it.

Visitors should remember to

a) Respect hilltribe beliefs and religious symbols and structrures.

b) Dress modestly. Hilltribe people are generally modest. Inappropriate
attire may offend them.

c) Ask permission before photographing someone. Some villages do not
permit photography.

d) Avoid trading western medicines and articles of clothing. Contributions
to their welfare, items such as pens, paper, needles, thread, cloth
and material used for embroidery are perfectly acceptable.

Trek prices are determined by the duration of the trip, transportation
modes, meals available and the size of the trekking party. Check directly
with the Chiang Mai TAT office for current information.

Shopping
Chiang Mai is, quite simply,
Thailand’s major centre for quality handicrafts. The visitor need merely
visit the nearest city emporium or night market to purchase handicrafts.
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, jewellery, woodcarving, silverware,
celadon, and lacquerware are manufactured, and number among popular purchases.
Major Chiang
Mai products include:
Cottons & Silks
First-class Chiang Mai cottons and silks are of incomparable quality.
Cottons and silkshave innumerable fashion and furnishing applications.
The largest possible selection is available in San Kamphang.

Umbrellas-Parasols – 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.

Silverware – The finest
Thai silverware is exquisite, and is made in Chiang Mai, where certain
families have pretised 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.

Lacquerware – Striking
black and gold designs give lacquerware its visual appeal and sheen.
This decorative are enhances items made of wood, bamboo, metal, paper
and baked clay, in the form of receptacles, ornaments and various souvenirs.

Furniture/Woodcarving
– Chiang Mai is a major centre 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, wood carving 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.

Hilltribe Products – These
include silver ornaments, such as bracelets, necklace, pendants 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-carat gold
to creat unusual gift items such as necklace pendants,hairpins and earrings.

Pottery – Chiang Mai is
the major centre 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.

How
to get there
By Bus
– The 10-hour journey from Bangkok can be made on airconditioned coaches
and non-airconditioned buses originating from the Northern Bus Terminal
on Bangkok’s Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road (Tel: 936-3660, 937-8055) for further
details.
By Air – Thai Airways
operates daily flights from Bangkok and other northern Thai cities.

Pls click
here to preview flight timetable or to book a flight

By Rail – The State Railways
of Thailand operates daily services from Bangkok’s Hualamphong Railway
Station, including a popular overnight sleeper. Call 223-7010 or 223-7020
for further information.

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 colourful best. Festivities
include colourful floral floats, parades,music and dancing, and beauty
pageants.

Songkran – 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 – 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 honour
the water spirits and wash away the previous year’s misfortunes.

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