Visitors to Thailand who want to head North to discover the rich and diverse cultural heritage of this region, are certain to want to add Chiang Mai to their itineraries; known as the ‘Rose of the North’, Chiang Mai is a cultural melting pot of influences from nearby neighbours and adventurers who have passed through. As Thailand’s second largest city, Chiang Mai boasts more than 300 temples and a wealth of visitor attractions both cultural and adventurous.
It is the ethnic diversity of the North that makes it such a truly unique region to visit, particularly when looking to uncover Thailand’s past. Chiang Mai has born witness to much that is historically significant to the region and to Thailand; enhancing the unique culture and cuisine that is particular to the area. The old city of Chiang Mai is a wonder and a ‘must-see’ when visiting; the highly distinctive architecture and contrasts of the traditional with the modern are stark and memorable.
The surrounding countryside draws holiday makers, nature lovers and thrill-seekers alike with mountains to climb, waterfalls to marvel at, rivers to journey on and nature in all her colourful, tropical glory. History and heritage too can be found in the hills around Chiang Mai, where numerous hill tribes maintain their traditions and visitors are invited to visit and experience a way of life less touched by progress.
Cultural tours of Chiang Mai are so worthwhile because there is so much to explore; the history of Chiang Mai is proudly displayed and exhibited in museums, temples and cultural attractions. Chiang Mai is more than 700 years old, even if the name will always translate as ‘New City’, as it was named when King Meng Rai the Great proclaimed it the capital of the Lanna Kingdom in 1296; founding many temples and establishing the city as the centre of Buddhism in Northern Thailand. Careful preservation and respect enables today’s visitors to Chiang Mai to still experience the wonders of old, with much of even the earliest history still to be found within the moated old city.