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CHIANG MAI

Climate | History and Culture | Festivals | In the city | Doi Suthep Route | Western Route | Eastern Route
Highway No.1095 - off Highway No.107

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Chiang Mai
Located 761 kms. by rail, approximately 700 kilometers by road north of Bangkok, with an area of 20,107 square kilometers, is Thailand's second largest city and capital of the northern region. Chiang Mai is administratively divided into 22 Amphoes (districts): Muang, Chiang Dao, Chom Thong, Doi Saket, Doi Tao, Fang, Hang Dong, Hot, Mae Ai, Mae Chaem, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng, Omkoi, Phrao, Samoeng, San Kamphaeng, San Pa Tong, San Sai, Saraphi, Wiang Haeng, Chai Prakan and Mae Wang.

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Climate
Cool Season: late October to end of February. average temperature 21 C and much cooler at night. The coolest months are December and January. 

Hot Season: early March to end of May Average temperature 29.9 C The hottest month is April 

Rainy Season: early June to end of October. Average temperature 25.5 C .The wettest month is September.

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History and Culture
Perhaps the most important asset Chiang Mai can claim is its people. Their beauty, hospitality and good manners are legendary throughout Thailand. In the past, Chiang Mai has been a city of economic, religious and political importance. Present-day culture has very deeproots. Chiang Mai has its own dialect and its own cuisine. These have given it a sense of cultural security.

Chiang Mai is an old city with a proud history. It was founded by King Mengrai Pho Khun Mengrai Maharat who united several small tribes and called the new land Anachak Lanna Thai In 1259 after his father's death he ascended the throne at Yonok Nakhon and built Chiang Rai as his capital in 1262. In 1291, he decided to build a new city as the capital of Lanna Thai.

He invited King Ramkhamhaeng (Pho Khun Ramkhamhaeng Maharat of Sukhothai Kingdom and King Ngam Muang (Pho Khun Ngam Muang of Phayao Kingdom, his very close friends, to help select a site for the new city. They decided on a fertile plain in between Doi Suthep Mountain and the bank of the Ping River.

The new city was completed, surrounded by a moat and wall, in 1296. It was named Nopphaburi Si Nakhonping "Chiang Mai".

Chiang Mai was the capital of Lanna Thai for a long time. It was attacked frequently and finally came under the control of Ayutthaya, then Burma. In 1774, King Taksin of Thailand recovered it from the Burmese. Since then Chiang Mai has been a province of Thailand.

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Festivals
Chiang Mai celebrates many annual festivals. Three are particularly lively and lovely. These are the "Flower Carnival", the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of every February: ''Songkran'', 13-15 April each year; and "Yi Peng" on the full moon day of the twelfth lunar month, generally mid-November.

The Flower Carnival celebrates  the period when Chiang Mai's temperate and tropical flowers are in full bloom and is characterised by colourful floral floats and parades.

Songkran celebrates the traditional Thai New Year. Chiang Mai celebrates Songkran with special elation in a 3-day carousal of religious merit-making, pilgrimages, beauty parades, dancing and uninhibited, good-natured water throwing.

Yi Peng is Thailand's loveliest festival when, under the full moon, people float away onto rivers, canals, lakes and streams banana-leaf boats bearing a lighted candle, incense, a flower and small coin to honour water spirits and float away the past year's sins.

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In the city

Wat Suan Dok has the North's largest chapel royal. The principal Buddha statue is a huge cast mage named Phra Chao Kao Tu.

Wat Phra Sing has the most complete version of Lanna chapel and is home to Phra Buddha Sihing, considered Chiang Mai's important and sacred Buddha mage.

Wat Chiang Man is situated in town. It was the first temple built in Chiang Mai around 1300 A.D. Formerly it was the residence of King Mengrai, the founder of Chiang Mai. There are two famous Buddha images in this temple.

Wat Chedi Luang is situated in town. It was built in 1411 A.D. The big Chedi was damaged by an earthquake in 1545 A.D. and has never been restored.

Wat Ku Tao is situated in town. The Chedi was built in 1613 A.D. in the shape of five guards of diminishing sizes and beautifully decorated with colored porcelain, representing five lord Buddhas.

Wiang Kum Kam is and ancient town founded by King Mengrai. The main historical remains are : Wat Chedi Liam, Wat Chang Kham, and chedi's bases at Wat Kum Kam-Wat Noi, etc. Wiang Kum Kam is located on Chiang Mai - Lumphun Road, 3-4 kms. from town in the area of Amphoe Saraphi.

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Doi Suthep Route (Road no. 1004)

Chiang Mai National Museum situated near Wat Chet Yot contains ancient Buddhist statues and weapons.

Huai Kaeo Arboretum is near Chiang Mai University, 6 kms. from town, The attractively landscaped garden contain many kinds of trees and flowers.

Chiang Mai Zoo is near Huai Kaeo Arboretum, 6 kms. from town.

Doi Suthep - Pui National Park is in the area of Amphoe Mae Rim, Amphoe Hang Dong and Amphoe Muang, covering 262.5 square kilometres. The office of the park is on Doi Suthep route near Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The attractions in the area of the park are :

Namtok Huai Kaeo is a waterfall near Chiang Mai Zoo, 6 kms. from town. It's delightful atmosphere makes it the ideal place for picnics.

Khruba Siwichai Monument is situated near Namtok Huai Kaeo. The monument was built to commemorate Khruba Sivichai who initiated a plan to construct a hillside road to the monastery on Doi Suthep.

Wat Phra Borommathat Doi Suthep is on Doi Suthep is a large golden pagoda in the center of the temple containing a part of the holy relics of the Lord Buddha. It is a holy spot visited throughout the year by Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world. This temple was built by King Gue-Na in 1383 A.D.

Phu Phing Palace is on Doi Buak Ha, about 4 kms. from Doi Suthep. Phu Phing Palace is the winter Palace and open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as well as holidays, when the Thai Royal Family is not in residence.

Hmong Tribal Village-Doi Pui is located about half an hour drive from Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep.

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Western Route (Highway No. 108 and No. 1009)

Silverware Factory is on Wau Lai Road, renowned for silver products such as ; cigarette cases, spoons and forks, trays, etc. There are other factories of the same kind on Chang Khlan and Chiang Mai - San Kampheang Road.

Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center is on Chiang Mai - Hang Dong Road. Proceeding along the Wau Lai Rd., the cultural Center is on the left, next to Chiang Mai Gate.

Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center gathers the Lanna Thai arts and culture. Within its area, a hilltribe village and a Thai-styled house have been erected. Souvenir shops are available. Two attractive events held regularly in the late evening are the Northern style supper called "Khan Tok" and folk dancing performances.

Muang Kung Earthenware Village included in TAT's Handicraft Village Project, is located on Chiang Mai - Hot Road 10 kms. from town. Various ceramic products such as cooking pots, water-containing pots, vases, etc. are made. An exhibition room and a tourist information center are available.

Ban Thawai is 15 kms. from town on Chiang Mai - Hot Road. This village is renowned for the imitative skills of ancient wood products. Carved - wood pieces are produced for retail and wholesale by factories here.

Wiang Tha Kan located in Ban Tha Kan, Amphoe San Pa Tong, 30 kms. from town to the south, is an ancient town of the Hariphunchai Period. The main historical remains left in the Tha Kan School area and the temple's compound are a chedi and a vihara's base. Both of them are made of brick and laterite. The ancient relics found are votive tablets, sandstone Buddhist images and baked clay Buddhist images. In addition, there are the remains of the Buddhist monastery and stupas as well as scattered remnants of brick and earthen tile.

Doi Inthanon National Park Doi Inthanon is one of Thailand's most famous National Parks and one of the best equipped to welcome visitors. It is situated in the area of three Amphoes : Chom Thong, San Pa Tong and Mae Chaem and covers some 1,005 square kilometers. It offers marvellous natural scenery. Shooting, fishing and causing damage to trees and plants are strictly forbidden.

To get to Doi Inthanon take Highway No. 108 (Chiang Mai - Hot) and turn to Highway No. 1009 at Km. 57 up to the top of Doi Inthanon for a distance of 48 kms. Attractions within the park include :

Namtok Mae Klang is at Km. 8 on Highway No. 1009. Namtok Mae Klang is a big cascade with a scenic spot for picnics.

Tham Borichinda is a cave situated 10 - minute drive from Namtok Mae Klang, branch off at Km. 8.5 on Highway No. 1009. The cave is not dark. The area is ideal for picnics.

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Eastern Route (Highway No.1006)

Cotton and Silk Weaving Village is in San Kamphaeng, 13 kms. from town. Silk and cotton materials are woven by local folk on traditional looms.

San Kamphaeng Hot Spring located amid beautiful natural scenery in an atmosphere of tranquility surrounded by green mountain ranges and shady trees. The San Kamphaeng Hot Spring is the ideal destination for health and physical well-being by a hot mineral soaking. It is only 23 kms. from Amphoe San Kamphaeng. Bungalows and camping area are available here.

Flower Festival held every first weekend of February. The north is noted for its rich variety of flowering plants, particularly temperate-zone specimens which are at their best during this cool month. Spectacular floral floats are a memorable feature of this annual event held in Chiang Mai, together with displays of flowers handicraft sales, and beauty contests.

Songkran Festival Held during April 13 - 15. Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year, is celebrated all over the country but nowhere with more enthusiasm than in Chiang Mai. Part of the celebration is religious, marked by merit-making ceremonies at local temples, and part is pure pleasure, with good natured water throwing, parades, and beauty contests.

Yipeng Loi Krathong Held every November. In Chiang Mai, an unusual part of the Loi Krathong celebration is the Yi Peng Loi Festival or the ritual of the lighted balloon. After a day of merit-making, the people launch colourful hot air paper balloons into the sky, bearing their troubles away. In the evening, all homes and shops are decorated with beautiful lanterns. Later, traditional Krathong are also floated on the river and other waterways.

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Highway No.1095 - off Highway No.107

Pa Pae Hot Spring It is located in Amphoe Mae Taeng, 40 kms. from town along Mae Malai - Pai Road.

Huai Nam Dang National Park is about 60 kilometers along Mae Malai - Pai Highway and 6 kilometers on turning right. It commands a breathtaking view of seas of mist, flower beds and Lisu tribal people. Points of interest are Doi Chang, Doi Kiu Lom, Pong Ron Hot Spring, Namtok Mae Yen, etc.

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