General Information of Chiang Mai

Experiencing the merging of the past into the present in Chiang Maiwhere locals are proud of the city's 700-year history. Its richtraditional heritage and unique culture is a perfect foundation for thedevelopment of the city. Chiang Mai is one of the few places inThailand where it is possible to find in the heart of the citycenturies-old chedis and temples next to modern convenience stores andboutique hotels. The original city layout still exists as a neat squaresurrounded by a moat with vestiges of the fortified wall and its fourmain gates offering prime access to the old town.

For years, tourists have mistaken Chiang Mai as the northern junctionand the base from which they can explore other provinces. The phrase "aday in Chiang Mai is enough to see things around" was common. Today,tourists are surprised by the fact that there is always something newto discover Chiang Mai. Intriguing diversity among ethnic tribescoupled with breathtaking scenery makes Chiang Mai one of Asia's mostattractive tourist destinations. Two weeks in Chiang Mai may not belong enough for serious travelers.

The old city of Chiang Mai with its fascinating indigenous culturalidentity such as diverse dialects, cuisine, architecture, traditionalvalues, festivals, handicrafts and classical dances is a prime locationin its own right. In addition, the presence of hill tribes and theirwealth of unique cultures enhance Chiang Mai's distinctive diversity.

Chiang Mai is also blessed with pristine natural resources of mountains(dois), waterfalls, and other nature-based tourist attractions. At thesame time, Chiang Mai residents are warm, gracious and congenialproviding authentic hospitality making visits memorable and meaningful.Moreover, visitors from all walks of life can collect handicrafts ofsilk, silver and wood produced locally as timeless souvenirs. ChiangMai is a place where both backpackers and luxury tourists can enjoythemselves to the fullest. 

The PastChiang Mai literally means new city and has retained the name despitehaving celebrated its 700th anniversary in 1996. King Meng Rai foundedthe city as the capital of the Lanna (A Million Rice Fields) Kingdom onThursday, 12th April 1296 during the same period of time as theestablishment of the Sukhothai Kingdom. King Meng Rai the Greatconferred with his friends, King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai and KingNgam Muang of Phayao before choosing the site where the capital of theLanna Kingdom was to be founded.

From then, Chiang Mai not only became the capital and cultural core ofthe Lanna Kingdom, it was also the centre of Buddhism in northernThailand. King Meng Rai himself was very religious and founded many ofthe city's temples, which are still important today.

At the height of its power, the Lanna Kingdom extended its territoryfar into Burma and Laos, and southwards to Kamphaeng Phet a provinceabove Sukhothai.

The Burmese conquered the Lanna Kingdom in 1556 ending the dynastyfounded by King Meng Rai that lasted over 250 years. As Burma hadoccupied Chiang Mai for nearly 200 years, Burmese architecturalinfluences are visible in many temples. At the end of the 18th century,King Taksin the Great regrouped the Thais in the south and finallydrove the Burmese out with the help of King Kawila of Lampang therebyregaining Thai independence from Burma. Chiang Mai was then governed bya succession of princes who ruled the north as a Siamese protectorateunder the Chakri dynasty. In the late 19th century, King Rama Vappointed a high commissioner in Chiang Mai and it was only in 1939that Chiang Mai finally came under the direct control of the centralgovernment in Bangkok the same time the country was renamed Thailand.

In the past, Chiang Mai was only accessible by river and elephants.More convenient access was achieved only when the railway line wascompleted in the late 1920's. Moreover, the first motor vehicle drivendirectly from Bangkok arrived in Chiang Mai in 1932. Such isolation wasmore favorable to Chiang Mai as it helped to nurture and preserve theunique Lanna culture.
When we look at Chiang Mai today, it is the economic, cultural andcommunications hub of northern Thailand complete with excellentinfrastructure, good roads, by passes and road tunnels, and reliablecommunications infrastructure. 

The SettingChiang Mai, with an altitude of approximately 310 meters above sealevel, is situated approximately 700 kilometers from Bangkok on the MaePing River basin. Surrounded by high mountain ranges, the city coversan area of approximately 20,107 square kilometers and is the country'ssecond largest province. Chiang Mai borders Myanmar on the north,Lamphun and Tak Provinces on the south, Chiang Rai, Lampang and LamphunProvinces on the east and Mae Hong Son Province on the west. Theterrain is mainly comprised of jungles and mountains, which are home tothe hill tribes. In addition, wildlife and exotic flora may be found inthe national parks.

Most of Chiang Mai's mountains are oriented from north to south.Together they create a multitude of streams and tributaries includingMae Chaem, Mae Ngat and Mae Klang. One of Chiang Mai's distinctivefeatures is Doi Inthanon, Thailands highest peak, which is 2,575 metersabove sea level. In addition, the province boasts flat, fertilevalleys, which spread along the banks of the largest and most importantriver in Chiang Mai Mae Nam Ping (Ping River) which originates from theChiang Dao mountain range.

How To Go to Chiang Mai

By Car from Bangkok

Route 1: Drive on Highway No.1 (Phahonyothin) andturn left to Highway No.32 (Asian Highway) which passes Phra Nakhon SiAyutthaya, Ang Thong, and Nakhon Sawan, then take Highway No. 117 toPhitsanulok and Highway No. 11 to Lampang, Lamphun and Chiang Mai. Thetotal distance is 695 kilometers.

Route 2: From Nakhon Sawan, take Highway No. 1 passing Kamphaeng Phet, Tak, Lampang, and Chiang Mai. Total distance is 696 kilometers.

By Bus

From Bangkok There are ordinary, 2nd class and 1st class air-conditioned busesleaving for Chiang Mai daily (8.00 a.m. to 09.00 p.m.) from theBangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Mochit 2 Bus Terminal). Call 02 9363600, 02 936 2852, and 02 937 8055 for a more updated bus timetable.Private buses, which can be conveniently booked in tourist-orientedplaces in Bangkok, are also available. However, the public buses fromthe Northern Bus Terminal are generally more reliable. The journeytakes approximately 10-12 hours, depending on traffic.

From Chiang Mai If you travel to any districts in Chiang Mai, use Chang Phuak BusTerminal located on Chotana Road, tel. 053 211 586. Destinationsinclude those located along the northern route (Highway No. 107) whichpasses through Mae Rim, Mae Taeng, Chiang Dao, Chaiprakan, Fang and MaeAi. Some buses continue to Tha Ton, the northern-most province ofChiang Mai.

If you wish to travel outside the province, use Chiang Mai ArcadeBus Station. Contact tel: 0 5324 2664 for a more updated bus timetable.Destinations include Golden Triangle, Mae Sai, Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai,Nan, Phayao, Phrae, Lampang, Lamphun, Phitsanulok, Sukhothai, Mae HongSon (both old and new routes), Mae Sot, Mae Sariang, Khon Kaen, NakhonRatchasima (Khorat), and Udon Thani.

By Train

Express and rapid trains operated by the State Railways of Thailandleave for Chiang Mai from Bangkoks Hua Lamphong Station 6 times a dayfrom 8.00 a.m.-10.00 p.m. The trip takes about 11-12 hours for expresstrains. For more information, contact tel. 1690, or 02 223 7010, 02 2237020. Chiang Mai Railway Station, tel. (053) 24 2094, 244 795, .247 462245 363-4

By Air

Domestic airlines including Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Air Asia,Nok Air, Orient Thai Airlines, Air Andaman and Phuket Air operateseveral flights daily between Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

Thai Airways also operates domestic flights from Chiang Mai to MaeHong Son, Chiang Rai and Phuket. International flights to and fromChitakong, Luang Phrabang, Khunming, Yangon and Japan (Narita) are alsoprovided. Call 02 628 2000 (Bangkok), 053 211 044-7 (Chiang Mai), orvisit www.thaiairways.com for more information.

Bangkok Airways also offers several flights daily on the Bangkok -Chiang Mai route, some with a stopover at Sukhothai. Internationalroutes to and from Jinghong and XiAn are also available. Call 02 2655555, 265 5678 (Bangkok Office) or 053 27 6176 (Chiang Mai Office) orvisit www.bangkokair.com for more information.

SGA offers flights to Chiang Mai. For more information, call Bangkok Office 66 2664-6099 or visit: www.sga.co.th

For Nok Air call 1318 or visit www.nokair.co.th for reservations.Apart from Bangkok-Chiang mai flight, the airlines also operate flightsbetween Chiang mai and Udon Thani twice aweek.
For Orient Thai Airlines, call 02 267 2999 or visit www.orient-thai.com for more information.

Foreign Airlines operating flights from Chiang Mai to several destinations are:
Air Mandalay operates flights between Chiang Mai and Yangon on Sundaysand Thursdays. Contact 053 818 049 (Chiang Mai office), visit www.myanmars.net/airmandalay or write to cnxrr6t@sita.gmsmail.com for more information.

Mandarin Airlines operates flights between Chiang Mai and Taipeithree times a week on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. For moreinformation call, 053 201 268-9 (Chiang Mai office) or visit www.mandarinair.com

Lao Airlines operates flights on the Chiang Mai Luang Phrabang routethree times a week on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Call 053 223 401(Chiang Mai office), visit www.laoairlines.com or write to qvcnx@loxinfo.co.th for more information.

Silk Air operates flights between Chiang Mai Singapore three times aweek on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Call 053 276 459 053 276 495(Chiang Mai office) or visit www.silkair.com for reservations.

Traveling within Chiang Mai

From Airport, Train and Bus Terminal to town: There is a licensed airport taxi service available at the taxi kioskoutside the baggage-claim area. Purchase a ticket and present it to thedrivers waiting by the arrivals exit area. The trip will costapproximately 100 bahts for a sedan car that seats 4-5 people (withluggage).

From the airport, train station and bus terminal, you can easily geta song taew (red mini-bus). To charter a minibus or car, please checkthe correct fare at the TAT counter first.

Normally, first-class hotels provide complimentary transportationbetween the airport, railway station or bus terminals and the hotel forguests who have made advance reservations.

Short-distance travel

1. For relative short distances you can take a sam lor or tuk-tuk (atricycle). Fares must be bargained in advance. Short rides within thecity costs between 20 and 30 bahts. Longer rides may cost as much as 50bahts.

2. Just new in town is the taxi-metre, the same as those running around Bangkok. The minimum (starting) fare is 35 bahts.

3. Song taew (red mini-bus) is the most common means oftransportation in town. Passengers can hop in and out as they wish.Simply tell the driver the destination and negotiate the price beforeboarding. Fares range from 10-20 bahts depending on the distance.

4. Bicycles
Some travelers prefer to ride a bicycle around the city as most of theroads and alleys are accessible by bicycle. Bicycles can be rented frombicycle shops and certain guesthouses.

5. Rental cars
All major car rental companies such as AVIS, Budget, and Hertz, as wellas Thai car rental companies are ready to provide suggestions on travelitineraries. The easiest way to locate a car rental company is to askat the airport or the hotel, as those are the places where mostcompanies are located.

Chiang Mai roads are in good condition with signs posted in English. Why not take a car for a spin

Activities in Chiang Mai

Trekking

The best trails are found in Doi Inthanon National Parkwhere over 360 bird species, spectacular butterflies, wildlife, orchidsand other distinct flora vie for the hiker's attention. Within thenational park, there are beautiful Siriphum and Chedi waterfalls. TheArmy Pack Division Headquarters on Chotana Road in Mae Rim District offers camping trips and horseback riding along with basic jungle survival skills training.

Contact 0 5329 7478 ext 205.

Whitewater Rafting

Raftingdown the Mae Chaem through Ob Luang George in inflatable boats isavailable through Mae Sot Travel. Another challenging route is the MaeTuen in Omkoi District, where the river rushes through virgin foreststo end at the Pha Dam Waterfall. No rubber raft is available at thesite, so it’s best to book a trip with a tour agen in Chiang Mai.

Mountain Biking

The centre of biking activity, the mostscenic route is from Doi Inthanon to Ob Luang George via Mae Chaem. Thefirst leg, a route of about 20 kilometres, is strictly for experiencedmountain bikers while the second section, 30 kilometre long, is lessdemanding and suitable for bikers of intermediate skills and higher.

The Sky Experience Tour

There are 3 interesting programs as following:

NO.1 PROGRAM

NO.2 PROGRAM

NO 3. PROGRAM

13.00 - 17.00 TRASPORT TOVISIT MAE KAMPONG HOME STAY HIGHTLAND VILLAGE1,300 METERS ABOVE SEA LEVEL. THE VILLAGE OF BAN MAE KAMPONG STAND AS AFINE EXSAMPLES OF EC0 – TOURIST HOME STAY PROJECT HAS BEEN USED TOPROMOTE.SUCCESSFULLY ENVIROMENTAL ERS IN UNDERSTANDING AND EDUCATE

VILLAGOUSERVATION METHODS,HELPING TO PRESERVE THE ABUDANCE OFBIO-DIVERSITY AND OFFERING VISTORS OF AN INSIGHT INTO THE CULTURE ANDUNIQUE LIFESTYLE OF THE LOCAL PEOPLE.WHILST ROVIDING THE VILLAGERS WITHA GOOD SOURCE OF IN COME.BAN MAE KAMPONG IS AN IDAL DESTIUATION FORANYONE SEEKING BOTH GREATER CULTURAL AND ENVIROMENTAL A WARENESS OFNORTHERN THAI LAND AS WELL AS THE UNSPOILED BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY SIDE.

MONLAN MOUNTAIN HIGHT OVER 1,400 METERS ABOVE SEA LEVEL. IT ISTHE VIEW POINT THREE PROVINCE ( CHIANGMAI , LAMPHOON AND LAMPANG) INTHE MIDDLE OF DESEMBER EVERY YEARS THIS ALL MOUNTAIN THERE AREBEAUTIFUL THE PINK FLOWER NAME PHA-YA SAU- KRONG OR SAKURA THAILAND. ITIS GOOD REMEMBER FOR THE TOURIST WHEN TO SEE.
19.00 - 21.00 EVERY PROGRAM (N0.1- NO.3) THERE ARE KHUNTOKE DINNER THE FAMOUS FOOD
OF NORTHERN THAILAND AND OLD CULTURAL SHOWS . EVERY PROGRAM WE ARE ONLYV.I.P. SERVICE ,START PICK YOU UP AT YOUR HOTEL UNTIL FINIST PROGRAME.

Call for more informations at The Spirit of Chiang Mai 0 53327171, 08 11575 2842, 08 4797 6239, 08 1883 4130, 08 1785 7813 or visithttp://www.thespiritofchiangmai.com

Bird Watching

This northern capital is on important bird watching destinationl. Doi Inthanon, The highest peak in Thailandat 2,565 metres above sea level, froms the southernly end of theHimalayan range and provides a home for 364 species of birds, many ofthem not seen elsewhere in the country. The best time for bird watching is from November to February.

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