Chiang Mai and around

When Reginald Le May wrote about Chiang Mai back in 1938, this was, in his view, one of the loveliest cities imaginable. Life, as they say, has moved on since then. But while old Thailand hands may worry about lost innocence, Chiang Mai is still worth visiting.

While in Chiang Mai don't forget to climb Doi Suthep, the city's revered mountain, which rises 1000 m above the city and is crowned with an important temple. While this temple has succumbed to money-grabbing practices, it is still a beautiful setting and worth the effort. A visit to the tribal museum, just to the north of the city centre, is essential to understanding the region's indigenous peoples while to the south rests the handsome remains of a ruined city, Wiang Kum Kam.

The city's monasteries are the most beautiful in the north; there is a rich tradition of arts and crafts, and the moated old city still gives a flavour of the past. It is the unofficial 'capital of the north', there are also some good practical reasons to base yourself here. It is an important transport hub, there is an excellent range of hotels and restaurants, the shopping is the best in the north, and there are also scores of trekking and other companies offering everything from whitewater rafting to elephant treks.

The nearby historical towns of Lamphun and Lampang provide handsome, striking temples - some say they are the best in the whole country. Both can be reached as day excursions from Chiang Mai though Lampang, with its laid-back riverside vibe, warrants a little more attention.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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Chiang Mai & Northern Thailand Focus Guide

Roam ancient ruins, immerse yourself in the serene monasteries of Chiang Mai, or trek into the...
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