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Ching Mai is a large city in Thailand. The name Chiang Mai, also written as “Chiengmai” or “Chiangmai”, means “New City”. The city is located close to the Ping River which is one of the rivers feeding into the Chao Phraya River.
Founded in 1924, the city was part of the greater Lan Na Kingdom. It prospered during the middle of the 16th century. However, Chiang Mai was invaded between the 16th and 18th century. Burma and Ayutthaya both occupied the city for a time. The Burmese occupation ended in 1774 after King Taksin of Thonburi sent forces and drove the foreigners out. It officially became part of the Thonburi Kingdom in 1775. Chiang Mai slowly developed into an important cultural, economic and trading hub in Northern Thailand.
Ching Mai is the largest city in Northern Thailand and the fourth largest in the whole country as of April 2017. The metropolitan area has a population of close to one million people. In February 2017, the government announced that the city would be developed into a “smart city” which will include the transportation, agriculture, healthcare, and tourism sectors.
Being in the northern part of Thailand, the city has a tropical savanna climate thanks to the low altitude and moderate elevation. All year-round the weather is warm to hot where the temperature can go over 40°C. The population of Chiang Mai speaks mainly Lanna or Kham Mueang, a Northern Thai language.
There are a few options to reach Chiang Mai. Domestic and international travellers can fly in and land at the main airport, the Chiang Mai International Airport. Located about 3 kilometres from the city center, this airport has many buses, taxis and other local transport that can take you to your hotel or to other parts of the city.
If you are in a different part of Thailand, you can easily get to the city by taking a bus. The Arcade Bus Station is where most buses arrive in Chiang Mai. A bus journey from Bangkok, for example, could take about nine to 12 hours. Buses can range in price and comfort.
Another method to reach Chiang Mai is via train. The train station in Chiang Mai is about three kilometres east of the city centre. There are daily trains that run from Bangkok’s Hualamphong Train Station to the Chiang Mai Station. The journey takes about 12 to 15 hours and it is advisable to book the tickets in advance.
Once in Chiang Mai, the most common method to travel around the city is by songthaew, a converted, covered pick-up trucks with two rows of seats. There are also e-hailing services, motorcycle taxis, buses, as well as tuk-tuks and rickshaws.
Chiang Mai is a great vacation spot for solo tourists, group travellers and even family vacations. There a variety of cultural attractions in the city. It has an arts and cultural centre, many museums and over 300 Buddhist temples or “wat” for you to visit and admire. The city also hosts many Thai festivals such as Songkran, the Chiang Mai Flower Festival, the Inthakhin Festival, and Loi Krathong. You can also hike or enjoy nature in the few national parks nearby.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Often referred to as Doi Suthep, it is the most famous temple out of over 300 temples in the city. You can see the temple from almost anywhere in the city as it is shiny and gold against the greenery of the mountain. The location is 30 minutes away from the city. From the parking area, you need to take the 300 plus steps up the staircase to the temple. If you do not fancy a climb, you can take the cable car instead.
Doi Inthanon National Park
This national park is one of the most popular national parks in the country. The mountain on which the park sits is called Doi Inthanon, and it is the highest mountain in Thailand at 2,565 meters above sea level. At that height, the weather is brisk and cool year round. You can explore the park on foot and enjoy the many spectacular waterfalls along the climb.
Chiang Mai Night Safari
Experience a thrilling night out in the wilderness at the Chiang Mai Night Safari. You get to tour the three zones- Jaguar Trail, Savanna Safari and Predator Prowl. The safari lets you enjoy the park either in an open-sided tram or on foot. Here you can also feed the animals, pet tiger cubs and watch laser shows. It is better to plan ahead as there are English trams available if you do not speak Thai. The park is open in the daytime as well.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
This elephant sanctuary is one of the pioneers of the new ethical elephant attraction. Located 60 kilometres from Chiang Mai, you do not have to feel guilty about animal torture when you visit the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Chiang Mai. A sort of retirement home after a lifetime in the logging industry, the sanctuary is home to more than 30 elephants. Riding the elephants are prohibited here but you can play with these gentle giants as they bathe and roam the place.
An egg noodle dish with rich and savoury curry soup which is a must eat for anyone visiting Chiang Mai. The soup of the dish is made with coconut milk and yellow curry. Usually, you can order either chicken, beef or pork Khao Soi. Some places offer a seafood version. You can find this dish at a typical restaurant that serves it like Khao Soi Mae Sai and Khao Soi Nimman. Want a Halal one? Head to Khao Soi Islam.
Khao Kha Moo
Braised pork leg that falls off the bone and served with rice. The pork is seasoned with soy sauce, sugar and spices. Of course, each restaurant or stall has its own recipe. A popular stall that serves this is the stall of the night market near the Chang Phuak Gate. You can easily find this stall as the lady who runs it wears a cowboy hat. Dubbed as the Cowboy Hat Lady, she is at the market every night. It is best to be enjoyed with the whole family.
Nam Hed Song Kreung
Chiang Mai is the third most vegan-friendly city in Asia. So why not try this homemade fermented mushroom sausage. The dish is served with lime, ginger, red onion, chilli, spring onion, cilantro and cashew nuts. To eat it, you take a bit of everything and enjoy the flavours as it complements each other. This dish can be found at the Pun Pun Vegetarian Restaurant.
Chiang Rai is also the name of a mountainous city in the province of Chiang Rai. This city is fast becoming a popular place to visit among tourists looking for a weekend getaway from Chiang Mai located about 185 kilometres away. When heading towards the city, why not give yourself a treat at the Mae Khachan Hot Springs which is along the way. Once at Chiang Rai, get your adrenaline fix by zip-lining through a tea plantation. There are four different zipline courses at Singha Park for thrill seeker of all ages. Visit the Blue Temple and admire the stunning architectural design as well as the mural artwork. Finally, stop by the renowned White Temple, Wat Rong Khun.
About 106 kilometres away or an hour and 41 minutes from Chiang Mai lies Lampang or Nakhon Lampang. Here you can visit the Thai Elephant Conservation Center which consists of an elephant hospital and training school. Then take a hike on one of the trails in the Chae Son National Park home to the Chae Son waterfall, a 150-meter high six-tiered waterfall. There are plenty of other waterfalls there as well as some hot springs. Do not forget to visit the temples here as many are built in the Burmese-style.
With the flight and hotel ticket package available at Traveloka Malaysia, you can visit Chiang Mai easier and cheaper. Choose a variety of tour packages that we offer, and modify as you like to get the combination you want.
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