Thailand’s “Rose of the North” is a cultural and natural wonderland with ethnic diversity, a multitude of attractions, and welcoming hospitality. Chiang Mai literally means “new city” and has retained the name despite celebrating its 700th anniversary in 1996. King Meng Rai the Great founded the city as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom on Thursday, April 12 1296 around the same time as the establishment of the Sukhothai Kingdom. King Meng Rai even conferred with his friends, King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Phayao before choosing the site where the capital of the Lanna Kingdom was to be founded. Henceforth, Chiang Mai not only became the capital and cultural core of the Lanna Kingdom, it was also to be the center of Buddhism in northern Thailand, King Meng Rai himself a very religious leader who even founded many of the city’s temples that remain important to this day.
Chiang Mai features an amazing array of accommodation choices, including dozens of mom-and-pop guesthouses, mid-range hotels, and some of the finest luxury resorts in Thailand.
Activities & Attractions
As one of the premier tourist destinations in Thailand, Chiang Mai has innumerable activities to participate in, ensuring that visitors with any interest will find something to keep them entertained on their Chiang Mai holiday. The following are some of the most popular activities on Chiang Mai. As one of the premier tourist destinations in Thailand, Chiang Mai has innumerable attractions, ensuring that visitors with any interest will find something to keep them entertained on their Chiang Mai holiday.
Food & Drink
As one of the top tourist destinations in Thailand its not surprising that there is a wide range of authentic international restaurants run by both Thais and foreign expats. Most guesthouses also feature menus that include both Thai and foreign dishes. However, Chiang Mai also features many foods that are part of its own distinctive cuisine, including both those handed down over the generations from the Lanna kingdom and those influenced by its neighbors, especially Myanmar (Burma). Chiang Mai specialties include spicy sausage, khao soy (a type of noodle soup), and the ultimate in northern cuisine, a khan toke dinner; khan toke dinners usually consist of several small dishes, such as curries, crispy fried pork skin, and northern style chili sauces, served with sticky rice on a small round table, usually in front of a traditional dancing show, especially if you are a foreign visitor.
Shopping is one of the premier activities in Chiang Mai, where nearly every souvenir product found elsewhere in Thailand is available for sale. The advantage of shopping in Chiang Mai is that visitors may learn about handicrafts production by watching artisans making the products firsthand. Both in the city itself and in several outlying villages, particularly along the Bo Sang-San Kamphaeng road, there are establishments where visitors can purchase handicrafts and works of art directly from the people who produced them. In addition to other goods, Chiang Mai produces parasols, silk and cotton textiles, jewelry, woodcarvings, silverware, celadon, and lacquerware.
For the more casual shopper, the Chiang Mai night market features numerous street stalls and shops, the Sunday Market offers more unique, independently created souvenirs and products, and the indoor, air conditioned Central department store shopping complex on Huay Kaeo Road sells international brand name products.
(original information sourced from Thailand Tourism Dept)