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Chiang Mai, Thailand

Temple Wat Chedi Luang Varaviharn in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Elephants crossing the river near Chiang Mai, Thailand
Orchid Farm near Chiang Mai, Thailand
Above: Temple Wat Chedi Luang Varaviharn in Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Temple Wat Chedi Luang Varaviharn in Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Elephants crossing the river near Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Orchid Farm near Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is northern Thailand's largest city and is located approximately 700km north of Bangkok, between some of the countries tallest mountains. Recently, Chiang Mai has become a much more modern city, and has many attractions for visitors.

Chiang Mai was founded in 1296 by King Mengrai and succeeded Chiang Rai and the capital of the Lanna Kingdom. Due to its location, the city had to protect itself from the Burmese, this was done with high city walls and a moat. After the Burmese wars, which ended in the fall of Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai was abandoned from 1776 until 1791, during this period; Lampang became the centre of the Lanna Kingdom.

In 1774, Chiang Mai officially became part of Siam after King Taksin captured it from the Burmese. From this date onwards, Chiang Mai flourished as the un-official capital of northern Thailand.

Chiang Mai locals generally speak Kham Muang between themselves, but the official Thai of Bangkok is taught in all schools and is understood by most.

There are many religious sites to visit in Chiang Mai:

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
This is the most famous temple in the area, and stands on a hill-side in the northwest of the city. Doi Suthep dates back to 1383. It is said that the builders of the temple decided it's location by placing of relic of the Buddha on an elephants back and allowed it to roam until it came across a place where it trumpeted and circled before it laid down and died. Due to the temples location it offers superb views over the city.

Wat Chiang Man
This is the oldest temple in Chiang Mai and it dates back to the 13th Century. King Mengrai lived here whilst he was overseeing the construction of the city. The temple also houses 2 extremely important Buddha figures - the Marble Buddha and the Crystal Buddha.

Chiang Mai's other attractions include Thai cookery classes, Thai language classes, many festivals, shopping, hill tribe village trekking and much much more...

Chiang Mai is easily reached by overnight sleeper train from Bangkok.

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