Chiang Mai is the second largest city in the Kingdom of Thailand in terms of area and population, after Bangkok, bearing in mind that the difference between the two cities is very wide, as the population of Chiang Mai and its suburbs is less than one million, while the population of Bangkok exceeds and its suburbs 15 million.
There are not many skyscrapers in Chiang Mai, as in the case of its sister Bangkok
Chiang Mai is located in the north-east of the Kingdom of Thailand, about 750 km from the capital, Bangkok. It is characterized by a different nature and climate from Bangkok and the whole of Thailand, as it is located on the edge of a mountainous region that includes the highest peaks of Thailand, which is the summit of Mount Doi Inthanon, which is more than 2500 meters above sea level. The region is generally characterized by a milder climate than the rest of Thailand, and the weather is somewhat cold between late November and late February. It may happen that cold northern waves reach the region for a few days during this period, during which the degrees fall a lot. Chang Mai can be reached by train, plane, car or bus from the capital, Bangkok, the island of Phuket, and several other major destinations in the Kingdom. The road trip from Bangkok requires between 9 hours by car and 11 hours by train, while the flight time does not exceed 90 minutes.
The downtown area includes landmarks and buildings from different historical periods
In terms of cost, the plane journey is not much more expensive than the train, with airfares starting at around 1,000 baht. Ticket prices for train trips (round trip) from Bangkok to Chang Mai start at 121 baht for third class, 281 for second class and 593 for first class. There are also trains with wagons equipped with beds that travel at night, and ticket prices (pajamas) start at about 750 baht. There are also private trains with luxurious bedrooms, ticket prices starting from 1253 baht. As we mentioned many times before, we always advise traveling by land during tourism if time permits. Although it takes a longer period, road trips, whether by train or car, allow a better view of the nature and landmarks of the country that the tourist is visiting, and learn about the customs and traditions of its people.
There is no metro in Chang Mai, with bus, tuk-tuk and taxi the main modes of transportation
The region in northern Thailand was an independent country called the Lan Na Kingdom, with its capital at Chang Mai, until 1775, when it was united under the banner of the Kingdom of Thailand as we know it today. The city of Chiang Rai, located in the north-east of Thailand, was also within this kingdom.
The word Lana means “the kingdom of a thousand rice fields,” as rice was a source of pride for the kingdom of Lana. Its vast fields and full granaries were an indication of its wealth, and ensured that the country and its people were satisfied with the bounties of their land. Today, Chiang Mai is still proud of its production of a large number of varieties of edible rice, and is keen to preserve the ancient history and traditions of this important cultivation in Asia.
The city of Chiang Mai was established in 1996. It was built to succeed Chang Rai as the capital of the Lanna kingdom. Work has been done to fortify it well. The kingdom of Burma, the largest and most powerful neighbor, has always represented an imminent threat to the small and generally peaceful Lanna kingdom. The former capital, Chiang Mai, was attacked and occupied by the Burmese for a few hundred years, and the capital was then moved to Fang and Wiang Kum Kam for two decades, before Chiang Mai became the capital for the next five centuries.
Chang Mai is well fortified, with a stone wall built around it, and a moat surrounded. The wall included the entire city, with the exception of the market, which remained outside the walls to make room for merchants from different parts of the region to buy and sell there.
Today, only scattered and dilapidated parts of this wall remain, in addition to the surrounding moat. The old city, and the rest of its temples and palaces are located within the vicinity of this wall, while the urbanization extended far distances outside the vicinity of the wall. This area is one of the most important features of the city of Chiang Mai, as it includes most of its historical sites, temples and ancient palaces. When visiting the old section of Chang Mai City, one can see the remaining part of the ancient wall, the city gate, and the moat surrounding it. I recommend walking from the old city gate to the popular Night Bazaar area, a journey that takes no more than an hour to an hour and a half (depending on the walking speed), as it allows you to see many of the ancient and modern features of Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai accounts for a large proportion of tourists who visit Thailand, which is evident in all parts of it, especially the historical city center.
The northern region of Thailand is characterized by its cuisine that is somewhat different from the rest of the Kingdom, where Chang Mai is the best place to learn about the dishes, food and drinks that distinguish this cuisine. It is worth noting that the dishes are more spicy compared to the world-famous Thai dishes and in the rest of Thailand, where more pepper is used.
The night market offers many activities for visitors
In addition, in addition to rice, the northern region of Thailand is famous for its cultivation of coffee, and Chang Mai is proud of its coffee varieties, and its streets are full of small and large cafes that offer a selection of hot and iced coffee drinks. Without a doubt, no visit to Chiang Mai is complete without trying some of the coffees produced in the region.
The streets of Chang Mai are dotted with cafes serving drinks made with local coffee
In the ancient city of Chiang Mai, there are a number of important archaeological temples, among which we mention the Wat Chiang Man Temple, whose construction dates back to the 13th century, and is one of the oldest landmarks of the Lanna Kingdom, characterized by its beautiful design and high attention to internal and external details.
The Temple of Doi Suthep (Wat Phra That Doi Suthep) is one of the most important landmarks of Chang Mai and Thailand in general. It is built at the foot of a relatively high mountain, with a height of more than 1050 meters above sea level. The construction of this temple dates back to the 14th century. As well as being a masterpiece of architecture, the temple offers a wonderful view of Chiang Mai from its high peak (when the weather is fine), not to mention that the trip itself is wonderful, as soon as the car leaves Chiang Mai The road becomes mountainous, passing through a beautiful and dense tropical forest.
The temple is about 13 km from the city of Chang Mai, and access to it requires a long staircase, or a cable car ride (Teleferic). There are many stops on the way for food or coffee and beautiful views of the tropical forest, and some areas offer city views.
The cost of a round trip to the temple is 800-1000 baht, but most taxi drivers in Chiang Mai try to charge more and unreasonable sums from tourists, some of whom may go for 2500 baht. So I recommend asking more than one driver and agreeing on the amount before setting off on the trip.