:: CHIANG MAI

Popularly known as the Rose of the North, Chiang Mai is blessed with stunning natural beauty and unique indigenous cultural identity. The city was founded by King Mengrai the Great as the capital of the Lanna Thai kingdom by merging the various city-states in the region in 1296. Today Chiang Mai is the economic, communications, cultural and tourism centre of Northern Thailand.

About 700 kilometres from Bangkok, Chiang Mai is situated on the Mae Ping River basin some 310 metres above sea level. Surrounded by high mountain ranges, it covers an area of approximately 20,107 square kilometres. The terrain is mainly jungle and mountains, parts of which are within national parks, and still fertile and verdant with plentiful flora and fauna. There are many sites and locations where tourists prefer to visit to study the lifestyle of the tribal people who live in the high hills.

:: Attractions

The most important and most visible landmark, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep , is perched high atop a mountain overlooking the city, with the forested mountain backdrop providing a very scenic panorama. The temple is accessible by climbing a steep 300-step staircase with naga siderails or, for those less active, by funicular railcars. The temple's golden pagoda contains the holy relics of Buddha. Further up the road from the temple is the Phu Phing Palace. Built in 1962, the royal winter palace's lavish landscaped gardens are open to the public on weekends and holidays when the Royal Family is not in residence.

Wat Chiang Man , the city's oldest temple, dates back to 1296 and is the finest example of Northern Thai architect. The temple was the residence of King Mengrai, the city's founder. The temple has massive teak columns and a chedi supported by rows of elephant-shaped buttresses. It also houses a 20-30 cm. marble Buddhist relief believed to have originated in India or Sri Lanka some 2,500 years ago and Phra Kaew Khao, a small, ancient crystal Buddha image.

The focal point of the Songkran (Thai New Year's) festivities occurs at Wat Phra Sing, where local people bathe the revered Buddha image. Dating back to mid-14th century, the lovely temple is named after the Phra Singh Buddha image, believed to have originated in Sri Lanka 300 years ago. The Buddha image's travels to its present location is clouded in myth. View the exquisite woodcarvings on temple pillars, doors and northern style murals.

The highest point in Thailand is located at the peak of the Doi Inthanon National Park. Rare, colorful floral plants that thrive in the year-round chilled air, are only found here at the peak. Sites of interest include the Inthanon Royal Project which promotes sustainable income to Karen and Maew hilltribe people who grow flowers, and the Royal Pagodas dedicated to H.R.H. the King and the Queen.

Early birds are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the sea of mist that rises in the early morning hours at the Huai Nam Dang National Park. The park also has well maintained flowerbed landscapes and tribal villages. Nearby at the Huai Nam Roo , visitors can stop by a Lisu hilltribe village, or enjoy the tranquility of a coffee farm and fruit cultivation center.

 
 
 
Provinces consists within Region

01. CHIANG MAI
02. CHIANG RAI
03. KAMPHAENG PHET
04. LAMPANG
05. LAMPHUN
06. MAE HONG SON
07. NAKHON SAWAN
08. NAN
09. PHAYAO
10. PHETCHABOON
11. PHICHIT

12. PHITSANULOK
13. PRAE
14. SUKHOTHAI
15. TAK
16. UTHAI THANI
17. UTTARADIT