Travel to Chiang Mai, the second most-visited city in Thailand
Chiang Mai is the largest and arguably most important city in Northern Thailand. It’s 720 kilometers (450 miles) north of the Thai capital, Bangkok and is situated in a mountainous region of the country, on the Ping River giving this once capital city a very different atmosphere and ambiance to the capital.
Chiang Mai prides itself on being a center of culture and was voted into 24th place in the 2014 TripAdvisor best destinations in the world. Visit Chiang Mai today and you’ll see a city filled with a history that’s very much tied into its riverside location; a position that has made it a stopping point on major trading routes over the centuries. The city actually covers both sides of the Ping River, with three of its four wards Nakhon Ping, Srivijaya and Mengrai, located on the west bank, and the remaining ward, Kawila, located on the east bank. If you want to visit the city center of Chiang Mai, this can be found mostly within the Srivijaya ward.
There is certainly plenty to see when you visit Chiang Mai, as you might expect from its high TripAdvisor rankings. As a country, Thailand is known for its temples and Chiang Mai is no exception; there are more than 300 temples in this area alone. The most famous of the city’s temples to visit is Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep which is located on a hill called Doi Suthep, in the north west of Chiang Mai. This temple has been in existence since 1383. Despite its age this is surprisingly not the oldest temple in Chiang Mai; that honor goes to Wat Chang Man which was built in the 13th century and is home to two famous Buddha figures; one made of crystal, the other of marble.
A visit to Chiang Mai is not all about the temples though; there are also plenty of museums to explore where you can learn about the history of the region you’re visiting. These museums include Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center, Chiang Mai National Museum and the Tribal Museum which concentrates on telling the story of the various tribes that have lived in the area.
One of the best things about visiting Chiang Mai is the food. You can sample delicious dishes at the local markets or in the many restaurants in the city. One of the most famous eating experiences in Chiang Mai is the Khantoke dinner. This is a traditional celebratory meal which originated centuries ago. If you want to experience one of these dinners when you visit Chiang Mai you can do so at the Lanna Cultural Center. An experience like this helps you to immerse yourself in the history of a city that is still very much a cultural center today.
Chiang Mai is also a popular starting point for exploring some of Thailand’s beautiful natural scenery. Three national parks are close by, and two of these are mountainous. Hill trekking by foot and on elephants can be a great way to see this side of Thailand that you won’t experience just by visiting its capital city, Bangkok.