Chiang Mai is a land of misty mountains and colorful hill tribes, a
playground for seasoned travelers and a delight for adventurers. On a
trip to this tranquil city, curious travelers can expand their horizons
with Thai massage and cooking courses. Others will be bowled over by the
variety of handicrafts and antiques. There are plenty of lively
nightlife spots and excellent eateries specializing in local cuisine.
Chiang Mai is 700 km north of Bangkok, set in a verdant valley on the
banks of the Ping River. The city was founded in 1296 as the capital of
the ancient Lanna Kingdom and it still proudly wears its distinctive
culture and long history for all to see. However, it's now a place where
the past and the present seamlessly merge with modern buildings standing
side by side with venerable temples. Despite its relatively small size,
Chiang Mai truly has it all.
Things to do in Chiangmai
Doi Suthep is the regal mountain overlooking the city of Chiang Mai from the
northwest. It is home to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, an awe-inspiring temple
that is crowned by an elaborate chedi, 24 meters tall and gold plated from
top to bottom. It gleams like a northern star from the heights of the
The temple is one of the most historically and spiritually significant
places in Thailand and is an impressive embodiment of the Lanna culture,
with its origins dating back almost 700 years. As such, large numbers of
Thais and foreigners come to experience the special magic of this holy
place. Scattered around the temple are various statues depicting everything
from the legendary white elephant upon whose grave the temple was erected to
the assorted gods and Buddhas of the Thai religion.
Wat Chedi Luang is conveniently located right in the middle of the Old City,
walking distance from many of most popular hotels and markets. Luang translates
in the old Lanna language to something like "very big", and the enormous
crumbling central structure certainly lives up to its name. The main chedi
is 80 meters tall, making it the highest point in Chiang Mai’s Old City
The temple complex dates all the way back to 1385, but has had various
additions, re-builds and revamps since. It was once home to the
highly-revered Emerald Buddha, which now takes pride of place in Bangkok’s
Wat Phra Singh stands as one of the most visually impressive temples in
Chiang Mai, partially thanks to a huge renovation in the 19th century, plus
numerous licks of paint ever since. The main temple building is the star of
the show, featuring those iconic slanted Lanna-style roofs and an
intricately decorated façade that shines brightly in the sunlight.
There are various stupas and pagodas dotted around the grounds, which are
free to enter. Walking distance from Wat Chedi Luang in the Old City, our
recommendation is to fit in both during a morning or afternoon sightseeing
trip on 2 feet or a tuk-tuk.
Wat Umong certainly shows its 700-year age, despite numerous touch-ups over
the years. The crumbling, weather-worn central stupa towers into the sky,
set around a well-maintained tropical garden and smart-looking green lawns.
While the main stupa provides a neat photo-op, there’s plenty more to do at
Wat Umong. You can feed the fish and turtles in the garden’s main pond, walk
around the ‘talking trees’ that offer words of advice (in Thai and English),
and head underground to check out the series of ancient tunnels. Find it
just beyond the airport, in the foothills of Doi Suthep Mountain.
Location: 135 Moo 10, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200,
Open: Daily from 5 am to 8 pm
Phone: +66 (0)85 033 3809