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.
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.
Only 36 km away from town is the San Kamphaeng Hot Springs amidst natural forest surroundings and verdant hills. The continuously boiling water, with temperatures ranging from 90 to 100 Celsius, contains a high content of sulfur, popular for its curative and restorative properties. Private mineral water bathing rooms, a swimming pool, accommodations, and dining facilities are available.
Popular jungle treks , with durations of between 2-7 days, take visitors through forested mountains, high valleys, meadows, and terraced rice fields to remote hilltribe settlements for overnight stays. Travel frequently is a combination of foot, boat, elephant back, horse-back or by jeep, to reach these high altitude domiciles. Guides are usually hilltribe youths who can speak English, Thai and at least three tribal dialects.
Watch trained elephants demonstrate their highly valued forestry skills as they perform at the Mae Sa Elephant Camp from 09.30-11.00 hrs daily. After the show, hop on for a thrilling two-hour jungle tour on elephant back. Close by is the Chiang Dao Cave , a highly popular tourist attraction with a stream teeming with fish flowing in front of the cave's entrance. Within the cavern is Burmese-style Buddha images and spectacular rock formations.
Chiang Mai is Thailand's main center for quality handicrafts. Visitors can watch artisans working in the outlying villages where authentic cottage industries thrive, particularly along the Bo Sang-San Kamphaeng Road , lined with handicraft-producing factories. Along this road is the famous umbrella village of Bo Sang where young women manufacture and paint silk and cotton umbrellas and paper parasols. This trade has been passed down for more than 200 years. San Kamphaeng is renowned for its silk and handicraft products.
For those short on time, a visit to the Night Bazaar will give you the advantage of viewing a variety of handicrafts without traveling the distance. At night, the pavements of the Changklan Road are transformed into a bazaar selling a wide range of goods besides handicraft products.
Wat Phra Sing, located on Sam Lan Road, houses the revered Phra Phutthasihing Buddha image cast in Subduing Mara. The Buddha image is now enshrined in Vihan Lai Kham. During the Songkran festival, each April 13-15, people process the most sacred Buddha image around Chiang Mai town for traditional bathing. Formerly, this area was a Wat Li Chiang Market until 1345, when King Pa Yu, the fifth king of the Mengrai Dynasty, commanded the people to built this temple and a 24-feet chedi containing his father's ashes. The temple compound includes the lovely Lai Kham chapel featuring exquisite woodcarvings and northern-style murals, a magnificent scriptural repository with striking bas relief, and a circular stupa (in Lankan bell shape).
Wat Suan Dok is on Suthep Road. The temple was built in a 14 th century Lanna Thai monarch's pleasure gardens, and is a favourite spot for photographers particularly for striking sunsets. Several of the white chedis contain ashes of Chiang Mai's former royal family. The 500-year-old bronze Buddha image, in a secondary chapel, is one of Thailand's largest metal images.
Wat Chiang Man is Chiang Mai's oldest temple and probably dates from 1296. King Mengrai allegedly lived here while the new city of Chiang Mai was constructed. The temple is located within the walled city on Ratchaphakhinai Road. It is noteworthy for a chedi supported by rows of elephantine buttresses and a beautiful chapel. Enshrined in the temple is a tiny crystal Buddha called Phra Kaeo Khao , which is thought to have the power to bring rain. Another image, called Phra Sila Khao , reflects the fine workmanship of Indian craftsmen from thousands of years ago.
Wat Prasat , located on Inthawarorot Road near Wat Phra Sing. The temple houses a traditional Lanna architecture chapel, and the chapel roof is decorated in colourful glass and carved wooden lions. Wat Prasat houses one of the rare Lanna arts' Buddha image.
Wat Chedi Luang houses the largest chedi in Chiang Mai. The temple is located right in the middle of the city and was built in the reign of King Saen Mueang Mak, the seventh king of Mengrai Dynasty. The 98-metre tall and 54-metre wide chedi was built in the reign of King Tilokkarat. The construction was completed in 1481. In 1545 the chedi collapsed due to an earthquake, during the reign of King Jiraprapa. The chapel at the front, was built by Chao Khun Uba Lee Poramacharn (Sirichantathera) and Chao Kaeo Navarat in 1928.
The magnificent methodological serpents ramble from the entrance of the chapel to its doors on both sides. It is believed that they are the most beautiful manmade serpents in the north of Thailand.
Sao Inthakil or Sao Lak Muang , the city pillar was built when the founder of Chiang Mai, King Mengrai governed the city in 1296. It is located in front of Wat Chedi Luang and enshrined in a small Thai chapel. The pillar is made of wood and kept underground. The Khao Inthakil or city pillar celebration is held annually in May.
Wat Phan Tao , located on Phra Pok Klao Road beside Wat Chedi Luang. The temple was a throne hall for King Mahotara Prateth, thus the peacock shaped doors were built. It is believed that the peacock is a symbol of the king.
Wat Ku Tao, was formerly called Wat Veru Vanaram. The temple is located in Tambon Sri Phum near Chiang Mai Satdium. It is noteworthy for an unusual watermelon shaped pagoda, thus giving its symbolic name by locals. An exact period of its establishment is somewhat unknown, but from legend, the Ku Tao chedi contains ashes of Prince Saravadee, the son of King Bureng Nong who ruled Chiang Mai from 1579 to 1607.
Wat Saen Fang, is located on Tha Phae Road. This is an old temple, built in the Burmese style of architecture. The residence of the abbot, dating back for more than 100 years, is an interesting attraction in the temple compound. King Intavitchayanontha, the seventh king who governed Chiang Mai issued a command to destroy the residence of Phra Chao Gavirorossurivongs (Chao Chevit Ao), the sixth ruler of Chiang Mai 1877. Later his former residence was rebuilt in this temple. The celebration was held in 1878.
Wat Buppharam , located on Tha Phae Road, Muang district. The interesting attractions include the Burmese architectural chedi, the wooden carved roof of the main chapel, and the local style wooden small chapel.
Wiang Kum Kam is an ancient city that was built in the reign of King Mengrai in 1286. The city was surrounded by ditches in every corner, and they were used as reservoirs. From the discoveries, there are 20 ancient remains in and around Wiang Kum Kam include buildings and temples of Wat Chedi Liam, Wat Chang Kham , Wat Noi, Wat Pu Pia , Wat Ku Koa , Wat E Kang , Wat Hua Nong , and Wat Pu Song. The remains date from 21-22 Buddhist centuries.
Presently, Wiang Kum Kam is located in the south east of Chiang Mai, between Km.3-4 along Chiang Mai - Lamphun route, Tambon Wang Tan, Saraphi district. It is situated to the east of the Mae Ping River.
To get there- take the road at Nong Hoi Police box to the Ko Klang Pa Kluai intersection en route to Chedi Liam Police box.
Wat Chedi Liam or Chedi Ku Kham, the temple was built in 1288 in the reign of King Mengrai, after he had transferred the administrative responsibility of Lamphun town to his minister, Aey Fah. King Mengrai established a town in the northeast of Chiang Mai for 5 years and then resettled in a town near the Mae Ping River in 1277 and renamed it "Wiang Kum Kam". In 1287, the stupa of Wat Jamthewi, Lamphun was rebuilt in Wiang Kum Kam for the locals to worship.
After that for hundreds years, the temple was left abandoned. In 1908, a Burmese tycoon renovated it, thus the temple has influences of Burmese architecture instead of its former Khmer style. Only some parts were rebuilt in Khmer architecture.
Wat Chedi Chet Yot or Wat Photaram Viharn, is located on the Super Highway Road (Chiang Mai - Lampang), 4 kilometres from Chiang Mai town. It is one of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai and was recently renovated. The interesting attractions of this temple are the seven tapering finial-stupa which are supported by lovely divine sculptures at its base. The most interesting of all is that the stupa possesses architecture of the Phuttakaya stupa in India. Besides, the stupa contains ashes of King Tilokkarat, the king of the Mengrai Dynasty who built this temple, and it is worthy of a visit.
Chiang Mai National Museum is located on the Chiang Mai - Lampang Super Highway near Wat Chet Yot. The distinctive building was built in modern Lanna Thai architecture and features northern arts and culture. The area is peaceful and refreshing. It is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 09.00-16.00 hrs. and closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and national holidays. Contact tel. 0-5322-1308 for more information.
Wat U Mong, is located on Suthep Road in the town. The spacious temple was founded in the reign of King Mengrai around 1296. Its renovation was done in the reign of King Keu Na. The large wall like building with a connecting tunnel inside, is a remarkable piece of art located in the temple compound. A large stupa is located near the temple's wall. Wat U Mong is blessed with various kinds of trees, thus making it an ideal meditation place.
Kad Suan Kaeo Art & Cultural Centre, is located in Kad Suan Kaeo Shopping Mall. As the name indicates, it is a centre of art and cultural performances. The Kad Suan Kaeo theatre is equipped with advanced technology where numerous Thai and foreign shows are performed. For more information contact, tel : 0-53 22-4333 ext. Kad Silpa.
Insect and Natural's Wonders Museum, has a fascinating collection of domestic and foreign insects including animal fossils. It is located at 72 Nimmanhemin, Soi 12 (Sirimangkhlalachan Soi 3), Huai Kaeo, Mueang district, tel : 0-5321-1891, fax : 0-5341-0916, E - mail : insects_museum@hotmail. com
Western Route (Highway No. 1004)
Doi Suthep-Doi Pui National Park , the superb landscaped national park covers an area of 262 square kilometres of Amphoe Mae Rim, Amphoe Hang Dong, and Amphoe Mueang. The park consists of verdant forests and mountain ranges.
Major mountains include Doi Suthep, Doi Buak Ha, and Doi Pui. This is a main source of tributaries and streams in Chiang Mai. Sacred places, religious attractions and historical sites are located in the park complex. To get to the park office, d rive from Chiang Mai town for 5 kilometres on the Huai Kaeo-Chiang Mai University-Chiang Mai Zoo route to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, en route to the intersection on the right, the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park road sign can be seen.
Attractions in the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park :
Doi Pui Tribal Village is a Hmong tribal village some 3 kilometres along an asphalt road from Phu Phing Palace. The village presents the typical lifestyle of the Hmong as well as a scenic view of Doi Inthanon, the highest peak in Thailand. The trip takes only an hour from Chiang Mai town and the village is easily accessible.
Huai Kaeo Waterfall is located 6 kilometres from Chiang Mai town. The 10-metre cascade provides a delightful ambiance of scenic views and various plants.
Khru Ba Siwichai Monument is situated at the foot of Doi Suthep Mountain. The monument honours the devoted Buddhist monk whose followers built the first 10-kilometre motor road to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in 1935.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is Chiang Mai's most important and visible landmark, and overlooks the city from its forested mountain backdrop. This temple is 15 kilometres from town, 3,520 feet above sea level, and dates from 1383. The temple is approached on foot by climbing a steep Naga staircase comprising 290 steps. The less energetic may ascend by funicular railcars. The temple's pagoda contains holy Buddha relics, and attracts Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world throughout the year. The temple compound offers an exhilarating view of Chiang Mai City and the surrounding countryside.
Phu Phing Palace is located on the same road, 4 kilomet re s beyond Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, on Doi Buak Ha. The royal winter palace was built in 1962. The lavishly landscaped gardens and grounds are open to the general public on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and official holidays, when the Thai royal family is not in residence.
Huai Kaeo Arboretum is next to Chiang Mai University. The attractively landscaped garden contains many kinds of tropical trees and lovely flowers. It is best for recreation, exercise, and plants study.
Chiang Mai Zoo is located next to Huai Kaeo Arboretum. It is a well-managed large zoo, which occupies the lower forested slopes of Doi Suthep Mountain. The zoo contains more than 200 types of Asian and African mammals and birds. It is open everyday from 08.00 to 19.00 hrs. Admission fee for adults is 100 baht, and children 20 baht. Restaurants and a camping site are available. For advance booking contact tel. 0-5322-1179, 0-5322-2283
Southwestern Route (Highway No. 108)
Doi Inthanon National Park is Thailand's highest mountain and towers 2,565 metres above sea level. Doi Inthanon is a part of the Himalayas, which ranges across Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and ends at Northern Thailand. Complex mountain ranges and a mild climate characterise an area with a moist and dense summit forest. Doi Inthanon is very intersting for ornithologists. The summit forest is the source of important tributaries of the Mae Ping River. Meo and Karen hilltribes inhabit the park.
Visiting Doi Inthanon is possible throughout the year. The best period for viewing waterfalls is May through November. The best period for viewing wild flowers is December through February. The best period for ornithologists is November through March.
Attractions in Doi Inthanon National Park :
Namtok Mae Ya is one of the most beautiful cascades in Chiang Mai. Water flows from a 280-metre steep cliff onto different rock formations in a lower basin like drapes. The well-managed waterfall is teeming with verdant forests and is best for recreation. It is located 1 kilometre from Highway No. 1009 junction, turn left for 14 kilometres and then take a 200-metre walk.
Namtok Mae Klang is a 100-metre one-level waterfall located 8 kilometres from Highway No. 1009 junction, where you turn left onto an asphalt road for 500 metres.
Tham Bori Chinda is a large cave located near Namtok Mae Klang at Km. 8.5 of Highway No. 1009. The road sign to Tham Bori Chinda can be seen at the junction on the right. The deep cave has stalactite and stalagmite formations, Buddha images and a rocky stream. The surface of the water glitters like diamond flakes when light reflects the stream. Sunlight in the cave allows visitors to see the entire cave. The Tourist Centre at Km. 9 has exhibits on nature and animals that inhabit the area.
Namtok Wachirathan is a large waterfall which plummets over the edge of a high cliff into a deep pool below. When there is a large amount of water, there are large splashes in the basin, creating a cool and refreshing environment. The delightful ambience can be felt by walking on a slippery bridge that leads to the waterfall. To get there, turn right off Highway No.1009 at Km. 21, then follw the signpost to the waterfall a further 350 metres on foot. At Km.20 a new road has been built to reduce the walk to the waterfall.
Namtok Siriphum is a splendid waterfall that falls from a steep cliff in two cascades and can be seen en route to Doi Inthanon. The attractive waterfall is located at Km. 31 of Highway No. 1009, where you take a right turn for 2 kilometres and approach is by foot only to the base of the waterfall. Getting There: Travel 58 kilometres west of Chiang Mai via Highway No. 107 to Chom Thong, then turn right into Highway No. 1009 and continue a further distance of 48 kilometres along Highway No. 1009 to the summit. A good asphalt road takes visitors up but is rather steep, thus the vehicle must be in a good condition. Visitors can pay the entrance fee at Km. 8.
Doi Inthanon can be reached by a local truck (Song Thaeo) from Phra That Chom Thong or Mae Klang Waterfall. The Song Thaeo runs to Doi Inthanon National Park Office (Km. 31) and neighbouring villages. The fare costs 20 baht each. A chartered Song Thaeo costing around 800 baht can make stops at other attractions around the area. Accommodation, restaurants, and camping sites are available at the park headquarters at Km. 31.
Southwestern Route (Highway No. 109)
Doi Inthanon Royal Project is in Khun Klang village close to the park headquarters. The project was initiated in 1979 to help the hill tribes to cultivate cash crops other than opium and train them on modern agricultural practices. Most products are temperate-zone plants. Flower plantations, a plant breeding research lab and flower plantations cultivated by hill tribes (Hmong) are open to visitors.
Phra Mahathat Napha Methanidon and Phra Mahathat Naphaphon Phumisiri, twin pagodas located at Km. 41.5, were built to commemorate the fifth cycle birthdays of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. Both pagodas share similar bases as well as a two-level walking path that surrounds them. The pagodas enshrine Lord Buddha's ashes and Buddha images, and overlook the magnificent scenery of Doi Inthanon.
Doi Inthanon Peak has a cool climate all year round. The Air Force Radar Station as well as King Inthawichayanon's stupa is located on the mountaintop. King Inthawichayanon, the last king of Chiang Mai, was concerned about the importance of forests and wanted to preserve the forests for future generations. He was so attached to the area that he asked that part of his ashes be kept here. The Tourist Information Centre near the top of Doi Inthanon exhibits a chronological background of the mountain, including its geography, biology, forests, and animals.
Namtok Mae Pan is the longest waterfall in Chiang Mai, which flows from a 100-metre cliff. It's charm can be enjoyed by standing some distance from the falls. From afar, the white water and the green forests around the falls make for a lovely picture. From Km. 38 of Highway No. 1009, drive along the Doi Inthanon-Mae Chaem road (Highway No. 1192) for 6 kilometres and a sign to the waterfall can be seen. Then drive on an unpaved road for 9 kilometres, after which the waterfall can be reached by a ten-minute walk from a parking lot. In the rainy season, the road to Namtok Mae Phan is in a poor condition; and only a four-wheel vehicle can make the journey.
Namtok Huai Sai Lueang is beyond Namtok Mae Pan, about 21 kilometres from Doi Inthanon-Mae Chaem Road. Turn left to an unpaved road, where only a four-wheel vehicle can make a trip in the rainy season. The medium-sized cascade has water all year round and flows from a cliff to each level.
Natural Study trek on Doi Inthanon
Kiu Mae Pan starts from Km. 42. This short trail, winding through tall pristine forest for about 2.5 kilometres, a 3-hour walk, allows the hiker to experience the natural beauty of the forest at first hand. The Rhododendrons, commonly found in the Himalayas, are found along the trail and they are in full bloom during December-February.
Trekkers on this route should seek permission from the park headquarters at Km. 31 for safety reasons. A group of not more than 15 people is recommended. Food consumption is not allowed while trekking. This nature trail is closed for reforestation from June 1 to October 30 annually.
Ang Ka Luang Nature Trail was surveyed and designed by Mr. Michael MacMillan Walls, a Canadian volunteer biologist who was devoted to his work and died from a heart attack on this mountain. This trail is 360 metres long, passing through wet and cold areas in a lush valley. Forest above 2,000 metres is covered with lichens and wild orchids. Indigenous plants that need a high level of nutrition, organic deposits, and rare species of birds are seen along the trail.
There are more nature trails on Doi Inthanon, each providing different views of the diversity of plants, reforestation, the importance of tributaries, the origin of caves, hill tribe agriculture, and birdwatching. Walking trails range from 1 to 8 kilometres. Each trip needs approval from the Chief of the National Park and a trekking leader is needed. The service is obtained at the Park Office at Km. 31.
Birdwatching on Doi Inthanon
Inthanon Birdwatching Information Centre (Uncle Daeng's Shop) is located at Km. 31. This is a bird information exchange centre among birdwatchers, nature students and the general public. The information details the habitat and food of birds and animals living on Doi Inthanon. The aim is to pass on this knowledge to the next generation. It also provides the Doi Inthanon Birdwatching Diary, comprising bird sketches by various bird watching experts, birdwatching trails, bird pictures, and slides. The Centre is open to both foreigners and Thais.
Winter is the best time for birdwatching when indigenous and migrant birds are found including Eurasian Woodcock, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, Forest Wagtail, Chestnut Thrush, Scarlet Finch, Little Bunting, and Crested Bunting.
Chiang Mai Cultural Centre at the beginning of Chiang Mai-Hang Dong road has an excellent collection of Lanna Thai art, and displays of traditional northern culture. A spectacular folk dance is performed while the typical northern dinner "Khan Tok" is served. The Khan Tok comprises Kaeng Hang Le, a gingery pork curry; the chilli-tomato-minced pork dip called Nam Phrik Ong; and the crunchy pieces of pork scratching, or Kaep Mu, for dipping into the rich gravy. Enjoyable tribal shows of Karen, Hmong, Lahu, Akha, Mien and Lisu are performed after dinner from 19.00 to 22.00 hrs. For more information, contact tel. 0-5327-4 540, 0-5327-5097.
Wiang Tha Kan is an ancient walled city that dates back to the Hariphunchai period, built before the advent of King Mengrai. During excavations, sandstone and earthen Buddha images including earthen amulets, brown jars with bones and Chinese porcelains from the Yuan Dynasty (1280-1368) were found in the area of Tha Kan village. The best preserved of the ruins are the pagoda and the foundations of the vihan, constructed from bricks and laterite. Wiang Tha Kan is located about 34 kilometres to the south of Chiang Mai along Highway No.108.
Wat Phra That Si Chom Thong is 58 kilometres from the town in Chom Thong district and dates from the mid-1400s. The temple houses a collection of bronze Buddha images, and the secondary chapel contains a holy Buddha relic.
Wat Phra That Doi Noi is in Tambon Doi Lo, Amphoe Chom Thong along Highway No.108 between Km. 43 and 44. The temple was built by Queen Jamathewi in 658 AD. During excavations, numerous marble Buddha images, Buddha image containers, and a chapel were discovered. The hilltop temple allows visitors to glance the scenic beauty of the Mae Ping River and surrounding hills and valleys. The temple is approachable on foot by climbing 241 steps.
Traditional Cotton Woven Village is located 3 kilometres from Mae Chaem District Office in Tambon Tha Pha. The weaving of northern unique style Sarongs is conducted in this tambon (sub-district). Around 150 households produce this distinctive cotton. Nowadays, the unique weaving style fabric is in great demand because of its striking colour and indigenous style. It can be purchased at a low cost for a token of souvenir.
Getting There: Take Chom Thong - Mae Chaem line local truck (Song Thaeo) from Amphoe Chom Thong Market at Wat Phra That Si Chom Thong and terminates at Mae Chaem Hospital. Operating time is from 09.00-17.00. The fare is around 45 Baht. Take a chartered van or Song Thaeo to the village for about 100 Baht.
Wat Phutha Oen is located in Tambon Chang Khoeng, Amphoe Mae Chaem. According to a legend, this temple was built in the early Ratanakosin period, or dates back for more than 200 years. One of the most interesting historical attractions in this temple compound is the Water Chapel. The Chapel is surrounded by water battlements instead of ordinary cement battlements. The Vihan is located behind this water chapel and houses artistic mural painting, but its colour has faded over time.
Ban Rai Phai Ngam is renowned for its high quality traditional woven cotton. The village is located between km.69 to 70 along Chiang Mai - Hot route, where you turn left for 1 kilometre to the village. The bamboo shadow along the entrance to this village makes for a pleasant environment. Presently, villagers who were trained to produce the natural dyed cotton by the late National Artist, Pa (Aunt) Sang Da Bansit, exhibit their artistic cottons which are woven at her house, and which is located beside the Mae Ping River. The house has been transformed to a museum showcasing traditional local life style including the works of the founder. For more information, contact tel: 0-5336-1231, fax: 0-5336-1230 and Chiang Mai office tel: 0-5327-3625.
Op Luang National Park is an amazing natural attraction comprising both splendid natural charms as well as mysterious scenery. A zigzagging river flows in front of a picturesque gorge. The area has a high, steep cliff with a narrow passage, creating strong currents and powerful echoes. An area to the north of this stream is teeming with various kinds of plants that provide a pleasant ambience all year round. Magnificent views of Op Luang National Park can be seen from the bridge that links with the gorge. An interesting prehistoric archaeological site is also located in the park.
Getting There: The Op Luang National Park is located 105 kilometres from Chiang Mai town along Highway No. 108 (Chiang Mai-Hot-Mae Sariang). The road stretches alongside the Mae Chaem River and zigzags along mountain ranges. Blue buses originate from the Hot-Mae Sariang roundabout. There are 3 lines of buses: Hot-Mae Sariang, Hot-Mae Chaem, Hot-Om Koi. All of them stop at Op Luang National Park.
Bo Kaeo Botanic Research Station is a station that plants pine and eucalyptus on an area of 828 acres. It has a cool and moist climate throughout the year.
Mae Tho National Park is 160 kilometres from Chiang Mai town. Drive along the Hot-Mae Sariang road and en route to Mae Tho for 16 kilometres at Km. 55, drive onto asphalt and unpaved roads which are steep and curved. Only vehicles in good condition are recommended. The Mae Tho National Park Office overlooks Karen highland paddy fields that resemble a flowing stream.
The picturesque green paddy fields are most splendid in the rainy season. On a clear day, the peak of Doi Inthanon can be seen from here. The area is cool and foggy in the morning throughout the year. Camping and trekking is possible by contacting the national park office.
Doi Tao Lake is located 133 kilometres from Chiang Mai town along the Chiang Mai-Hot-Doi Tao route. The large reservoir with lush green trees is situated beyond the Bhumibol Dam in Tak province. It was used for agriculture and fishery irrigation. This great body of water offers many recreational opportunities during the rainy and cool seasons, from July to December. Rafting lodge prices range from 1,000 to 1,500 baht. Cruise services to Bhumibol Dam are available during this period.
Hang Dong-Samoeng Route (Highway No. 1269 off Highway No.108)
Huai Phak Phai Royal Project is at Ban Mae Ha, Tambon Ban Pong, Amphoe Hang Dong along the Samoeng-Hang Dong route. It is some 300 metres from Km. 17. From Chiang Mai, it can be reached via 2 routes: Chiang Mai-Mae Rim-Samoeng-Hang Dong route, a distance of 32 kilometres, and Chiang Mai-Hang Dong-Samoeng route that is 43 kilometres. The project is responsible for collecting, researching, and breeding roses. One of the highlighted attractions in this project is the Royal Rose Garden, which covers an area of 8.4 acres. Roses have been planted along mountain ranges. This is where various kinds of roses are found. The best time to visit is from October to February.
A number of pretty resorts that are decorated with highland flowers are located along the route to Huai Phak Phai Royal Project, and are open to the public and for camping. Accommodation is available at Kritsada Doi and Utthayan Lanna. Please refer to the accommodation sheet for more information.
Northern Route (Highway No. 107, Chiang Mai-Fang)
Doi Ang Khang is on Highway No. 107 (Chiang Mai-Fang). Turn left at an intersection around Km. 137 (at Mae Kha Market) and proceed to Doi Ang Khang for a further distance of 25 kilometres. It is a steep zigzagging asphalt road. Therefore, only vehicles in good condition and experienced drivers can make the trip. The local truck (Song Thaeo) from Mae Kha Market offers chartered service to the splendid mountain. The area has a cool climate all year round, particularly from December to January, when much of the area is frosty. During that period, visitors should be prepared to cope with cold weather.
Tribal Museum is in King Rama IX Lanna Garden on Chotana Road. This is an ethnology museum featuring the indigenous culture of 9 hill tribes including Karen (Kariang), Hmong (Meo), Mien (Yao), Lisu (Liso), Akha (Iko), Lahu (Musoe), Lau, Thin, and Khamu including the minority tribe of Malabri. Each tribe possesses a unique identity and culture. The museum exhibits ways of life, culture, beliefs, and local wisdom of those tribes, which have been intellectually conveyed through artistic objects displayed in the museum. It is open daily to the public from 09.00 to 16.00 hrs. For more information, contact tel. 0-5321-0872.
Tham Chiang Dao is a charming cave located in Amphoe Chiang Dao. It is situated 72 kilometres from Chiang Mai town, turn left at the entrance route and proceed for 5 kilometres on an asphalt road. Convenient parking is available. Climb a staircase with a zinc roof to reach the cave. The lovely cave greets visitors with various kinds of fish swimming in a stream in front of the cave. Touring in and around Tham Chiang Dao with a local guide is possible by contacting local guides in front of the cave. A service fee is charged.
Doi Luang Chiang Dao is a limestone mountain in the Chiang Dao Wildlife Reserve area, Amphoe Chiang Dao. This cone-shaped mountain is 2,195 metres from sea level, which makes it the third highest mountain in Thailand after Doi Inthanon and Doi Pha Hom Pok. Narrow plains on top of the mountain overlook spectacular views that include a sea of fog on the Amphoe Chiang Dao side, Doi Sam Phi Nong, the Chiang Dao mountain range, and the far end of Doi Inthanon. The peak is cool and windy. It is full of rare highland flowers, birds, and butterflies. Visiting Doi Chiang Dao needs an approval letter from the Director of Wildlife Reserve Division, Royal Forest Department. It must arranged at least 2 weeks before travelling. Contact tel. 0-2561-2947 for more information.
Getting there: The peak is accessible on foot. At Chiang Dao cave, guides, porters, and chartered transfers to the starting point of the trail are available. Rented local truck costs around 900 baht and, a porter is 300 baht per person. There are no tourist facilities on Chiang Dao Mountain. Visitors must bring their own sleeping bags, food, and water.
Descending the mountain is possible on the trail near Ban Tham, which is located near Chiang Dao cave. The trail is rather steep; nevertheless, it could shorten the walking distance upon descending. It is quite difficult to climb up.
Huai Luk Royal Project is located along the Chiang Mai-Fang route. Take a right turn at Km. 95 for around 500 metres. The project provides farming area to Hmong, Karen and lowland farmers. It promotes, researches, and plants flowers, fruits, and vegetables for farmers. Produces of this projects range from vegetables and flowers such as cantaloupe, chrysanthemum, peacock flower to fruits like guava and pomegranate. The best time to visit is during November to March as agricultural produces are plentiful.
Wat Tham Tap Tao is in Amphoe Chai Prakan on the Chiang Mai-Fang route. Take a left turn at an intersection for 3 kilometres. The temple is situated between Km.120 and Km.121. The peaceful temple compound comprises a mid-pond scripture hall and Tap Tao cave, which is the beauty highlight. The cave is somewhat smaller than Chiang Dao cave, but it offers the unique charm of Buddha images inside.
Fang Hot Springs is at Ban Pin, which is 8 kilometres northwest of Fang. The 50 hot springs originate from simmering granite with temperatures from 90 to 100 degrees Celsius. The largest spring one spews out consistent steam with a strong scent of sulphur.
Tha Ton is a village in Amphoe Mae Ai where the Kok River flows to Chiang Rai town. The lifestyle of the locals living along the river as well as hilltribal villages can be seen during the river trip. Long-tail boat departs Tha Ton daily at 12.30 hrs., reaching Chiang Rai around 16.00 hrs. The fee is 200 baht per person. A chartered service is around 1,600 baht. Travellling by bamboo raft takes 3 days.
Activities include rafting to hot-springs, visiting a Lahu (Musoe) village, and elephant riding around the village and forests are available. For more information, contact Chan Kasem shop tel. 0-5345-9313, Thip Travel tel. 0-5345-9138, and Tha Ton Tour tel. 0-5337-3143.
Wat Tha Ton occupies an area of more than 160 acres and spreads over several rolling hills. The temple is situated on the bank of the Mae Kok River, and offers beautiful scenery. The temple also houses a school for monks, novices, and youths as well as a drug rehabilitation centre and a hill tribe support unit.
Mae Rim-Samoeng route (Highway No. 1096 off Highway No. 107)
Ban Hmong Mae Sa Mai is a Hmong village where unchanged traditions and ways of life can be seen. It can be reached by taking a left turn at Km.12 for 7 kilometres on a steep dirt road. Only four-wheel vehicles in good condition can make the trip.Along the route, there are several pretty resorts decorated with flowers, which are open to visitors including Mae Sa Valley, Mae Sa Resort, which offers a 9-hole golf course, and Kangsadan Farm. See the accommodation sheet for more information.
Orchid and Butterfly Farms are along the route. Visitors can enjoy exotic year-round blooms. These farms also have special butterfly enclosures where tropical species can be seen in a natural environment.
Sai Nam Phung Farm, located 2 kilometres along the Mae Rim-Samoeng route, and turn left for 1 kilometre. For more information, contact tel. 0-5329-7152, 0-5329-8771-2. Mountain Orchid is situated opposite Sai Nam Phung Farm, contact tel. 0-5329-7343 for more information. Mae Ram Orchid is located around Km. 5.5. For more information, contact tel. 0-5329-8801-2.
Mae Sa Snake Farm is around Km. 3 along the Mae Rim-Samoeng route. It is home to various kinds of snakes of Thailand and conducts snake breeding. It features daily snake shows. Each show takes around 30 minutes. For more information, contact tel. 0-5386-0719.
Mae Sa Waterfall is at Km. 7, then take an access road on the left. The famous 8-tiered waterfall in Amphoe Mae Rim occupies a natural setting among towering trees, and has a lovely breeze all year round. It is best for recreation for both the locals and visitors.
Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden covers a mountainous area of 560 acres. It is located around Km. 12 along the Mae Rim-Samoeng route. This international botanical garden was established to honor Queen Sirikit in 1992. It has a fine collection of Thai and foreign plants. The garden is set up to exhibit plants according to species and climate. Visitors can drive around the area. Places to see include the Tourist Information Centre, the Thai Orchid Breeding Centre, Herbs Museum and Research Centre.
The garden offers 3 walking trails:
- Rock Garden-Thai Orchid Nursery , takes around 30-60 minutes on foot;
- Arboreta (plant study trail) , showing more than 10 species of plants including banana, palm, fern, and ginger. This trail takes around 45-60 minutes;
- Climber Collection takes around 1-2 hours to climb the mountain.
It is open daily to the public from 08.30 to 16.00 hrs. For more information, contact tel. 0-5329-8171-5 ext. 4736, 4739, fax: 0-5329-9754.
Mae Malai-Pai route (Highway No. 1095 off Highway No. 107)
Huai Nam Dang National Park covers an area of 180 square kilometres of Amphoe Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai and Amphoe Pai, Mae Hong Son. Most of the areas are ranged highlands. The mountain has a verdant forest, which is the source of tributaries and various streams.
A ttractions include:
Huai Nam Dang Viewpoint, Doi Kiu Lom overlooks Doi Chiang Dao, and is a superb spot to see the sunrise amid cloudy valleys in the early morning. To get there, drive along Mae Malai-Pai Road to between Km. 65-66, and then take a 6-kilometre access road to the park office.
Doi Chang Viewpoint is located 20 kilometres beyond the Huai Nam Dang Viewpoint. Only a four-wheel vehicle can make the trip. The scenic views of natural mountain ranges and early morning sea of cloud can be seen from here. Camping is possible provided that visitors bring their own tents and food. Nearby attractions in Mae Hong Son province such as Pong Nam Ron Tha Pai (hot spring) and Namtok Mae Yen (waterfall) are worth visiting.
Pong Duat Pa Pae is located in Amphoe Mae Taeng, some 40 kilometres from Chiang Mai town. The hot spring spurts out steam 4 metres above ground and is situated amid a forest that has a strong sulphuric scent. To get there, drive on Mae Malai-Pai Road for 35 kilometres and then turn right for 6.5 kilometres onto an unpaved road.
Namtok Mok Fa is a one-level cascade located on the Mae Malai-Pai road. Take a left turn left at Km. 20 onto a dirt road for 2 kilometers. It is teeming with lush green trees and full of water all year round. The delightful ambience of the waterfall makes it an ideal place for recreation.
Muang Ngai-Wiang Haeng Route (Highway No. 1322 off Highway No. 107)
King Naresuan Stupa is located at Mueang Ngai Village. The locals built the stupa to mark the stay of King Naresuan the Great before he led his troop to invade Angwa in Myanmar in 1604.
Amphoe Wiang Haeng is a district that borders Myanmar. The area is home to various groups of northern Thais including hill tribes, Shan (Thai Yai), and Haw. Each possesses indigenous traditional ways of life and are mainly engaged in farming. Villagers lead a simple life, as progress has not overcome them yet. It can be reached via a winding road that runs through various mountains. At present, an asphalt road is available as a means to open the district to the outside world.
Phra Borom That Saen Hai in Amphoe Wiang Haeng dates from the early Buddhist times and was renovated in 1914. The pagoda is an architectural blend of Myanmar and Lanna Thai styles. It is believed that King Naresuan rested his troops here and built a pool at the foot of the hill for his own use and the use of his elephants.
Wat Fa Wiang In is a temple of Shan architecture located in Ban Lak Taeng right on the Thai-Myanmar border. In the past, Khun Sa, a drug warlord, once governed the area, but after he surrendered to the Myanmar government, the temple was divided into 2 parts. A golden pagoda is located on the Thai side, while the chapel's red roof can be clearly seen on the Myanmar side.
Ban Piang Luang located on the Thai-Myanmar border, is a temporary checkpoint where border trading operated by people of the two nations can be seen. Villagers living in the area are of Haw and Shan descents. The Haw migrated from China during the Chiang Kai Shek nationalist period. They still preserve their traditional lifestyle and study Chinese every evening with support from the Taiwanese government.
Getting to Wiang Haeng: Drive on Highway No.107, take a left turn at Mueang Ngai to Highway No. 1322 for 72 kilometres or get on a Wiang Haeng-Piang Luang local truck (Song Thaeo) from Chiang Mai. The truck leaves Chang Phuak Road, Chaing Mai at 08.00, 12.00 and 15.00 hrs, and from Wiang Haeng Market at 07.00, 08.00, and 15.00 hrs. The trip takes 4 hours and the fare is 70 baht per person.
Eastern Route (Highway No. 118 and 1006)
San Kamphaeng , a district in Chiang Mai, is famous for silk and a cotton-weaving. It is located 13 kilometres to the east of Chiang Mai town. Most visitors to Chiang Mai visit San Kamphaeng for souvenirs that are made from high quality but inexpensive silk and cotton. The village showcases a weaving factory as well as a silk weaving process. On the way from Chiang Mai to San Kamphaeng, there are factories and souvenir shops that sell woodcarvings, silverware, earthenware, lacquerware, and cotton fabrics.
an Kamphaeng Hot Springs are located 36 kilometres from town admid natural surroundings of trees and verdant hills. The water has a high sulphur content and possesses curative and restorative properties. Accommodation, a swimming pool, dining facilities and segragated mineral water bathing rooms are available. Nearby is Roong Arun Hot Spring Resort which offers bungalows, mineral baths and a sumptupous park setting. Public transport operates from Chang Phuak bus terminal, get off at San Kamphaeng, and then ride a chartered local truck (Song Thaeo) for around 200 baht per truck.
Northeastern Route (Highway No.1001, Chiang Mai-Phrao)
Si Lanna National Park is full of wildlife and verdant forests, which are the source of various tributaries of the Mae Ping River. The park covers a mountainous area of 260,800 acres in Phrao, Mae Taeng, and Chiang Dao districts.
Attractions in Si Lanna National Park :Mon Hin Lai Waterfall, the 9-tiered waterfall is located in Mae Ngat Forest, Amphoe Phrao. It is full of water all year round and falls straight down off a mountain. The unique cascade has many outstanding leveled tiers. The top tier, in particular, is an ideal viewpoint from where to observe the splendid landscape of Phrao district. To get there, drive on the Chiang Mai-Phrao road for 85 kilometres, turn left for 4 kilometres onto a dirt road. Only four-wheel vehicles can make the trip.
Mae Ngat Sombun Chon Dam is located at Km. 41 on the Chiang Mai-Fang route and then turn right for 11 kilometres. The area has a very scenic forest. Privately run rafts and restaurants are available throughout the year.
Other interesting sites in the area include Huai Mae Rangong Waterfall, Huai Pa Phlu Waterfall, Pha Daeng Cave, and Doi Mae Wa Hang Natural Study Trail (it is located around 4 kilometres from the National Park office).
Getting to the park office: Drive along Highway No. 107 (Chiang Mai-Fang route), and then turn right to Sombun Chon Reservoir for 12 kilometres (on the way, there are stalls selling scented lime). No accommodation is available, but camping can be done at Huai Kum camping area, which is located near the So Ro 6 Conservation Unit, Huai Kum around Km. 260 along Chiang Mai-Fang route.
Activities Available for Visitors to the Angkhang Nature Resort in Doi Angkhang.
Visiting the Royal Angkhang Station Project : A visit to the Royal Angkhang Station Project is a must while in Doi Angkhang hilltribes develop non-indigenous crops to grow. Beautiful flower and bonsai gardens are tended alongside fruit, vegetables and herb gardens. The healthful produce of the Royal Angkhang Agricultural Station Project is available for purchase, depending on the season.
Mule Riding : The mule trek begins in the Baan Khum Village, which is 5 minutes from the Angkhang Nature Resort. The mules are used to carry agricultural produce between villages. The mule trek takes approximately one and a half hours, and goes through the jungle and up to a point on the mountain where you can see across to Myanmar. On the return journey, the route goes past the Royal Angkhang Station Project.
Trekking : Those who enjoy trekking will find much to see in the Doi Angkhang area. From spectacular viewpoints, some standing at over 1,900 metres above sea level, the natural beauty of the area is obvious. The Rhododendron (one thousand year rose) grows in profusion. This tree which grows only on high mountains and in cool climates, blooms in both red and white, though only the red variety is seen on Doi Angkhang. Various treks, ranging from one hour to all day can be arranged. For whole day treks, it is necessary to take along sufficient food and water. Guides can accompany the trekkers with mules to carry heavy provisions.
Mountain biking : A popular way to explore the environment around Angkhang Nature Resort is by mountain bike. The resort keeps a few on the premises, which can be booked by guests. The route from the resort to Nor-Lae is relatively easy while from Baan Luang to Pa-Daeng is a little more challenging.
Bird Watching : More than 1,000 species of birds frequent Doi Angkhang, many of which are now rare or endangered. A good spot to watch for them is at Mae Phur Forest Station and on the way to Angkhang Nature Resort itself. Within the resort a wide variety of birds can also be seen.
Cultural Performances : Cultural performances by the different ethnic groups can be arranged, highlighting the traditions of their cultures.
Discovering the Natural Environment : There are many viewpoints in the Doi Angkhang area. One popular spot is Kiew Lom, found between Angkhang Nature Resort and Khob Dong Village. It gives a view of Fang and a haunting cloud of fog through which the sun rises and sets. Also, the area has many natural sights, such as waterfalls and caves. The Forest Authority and Fang District Council are presently developing plans to highlight Doi Angkhang's various attractions.
Experiencing the Hilltribe Culture : There are four different hill tribes located in the area near Doi Angkhang, which can be visited, the Muser, Palong, the Thai Yai and the Jean Hor.
Muser : It is believed that the Musur or Lahu originally came from the highlands of Tibet and that they, together with the Lisor and the lgor, have a close connection with the Lolo tribe in the south of China. Musur people are found in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Tak, Kamphaeng Phet and Nakhon Sawan province. There are several groups of Musurs in Thailand, such as the Red Musur, the Yellow Musur, the Black Musur, and the Musur Le.
Muser communities are normally situated on highlands of about 1,000 meter above sea level. They cultivate rice, corn and opium in mobile plantations. Regarding their religions and beliefs, most of the Red Musur and the Black Musur believe in ghost spirits while the Yellow Musur are mostly Christian. The Muser celebrates New year in January and March of each year. Musur people are monogamous. After marriage, the husband usually moves in to the family home of his new wife. This is to show gratitude and respect to the parents of the bride. A census completed in 1995 showed that there are approximately 82,000 Muser people living in Thailand.
The Muser people live in the Khob Dong Village, where there are both Black Muser and Red Muser hilltribes, who both live together. They have their own language and culture and an easy-going nature. At present they receive support from the Royl Project for Agriculture and Handicrafts and make traditional crafts such as weaving dried grass bracelets. Khob Dong Village has a spectacular viewpoint and a walkway to the top of the hill, from where one can see the sunrise and a beautiful view of the sea of mist that carpets the valley below each morning.
Palong : Originally from the Chan State in Burma, approximately 2,000 people of the Palong, Or Da-ang tribe migrated from Burma to Thailand around 1984. The Palong people have their own language and culture which, like that of the Muser hilltribe, follows the ancient traditions of their ancestors. Their arrival in the Doi Angkhang, Fang Amphoe area of Chiang Mai province initially caused some problems, as their migration was considered illegal. Eventually, they were categorised as a minority people and given the right to stay in 1986. The Palong make their living agriculturally, growing vegetables for which they receive the support of the Royal Project.
A survey conducted in 1995 showed that at that time, a total of 1,937 Palong people lived in four villages in Fang Amphoe, Chiang Mai province. One of these villages is the Nor Lae Village, about 4 kilometres from Khob Dong Village. The village is situated on the Thai and Burmese border and soldiers from both countries can be seen in the area. Nor-Lae is popular with tourists in part for the spectacular view one gets from the peak.
Thai Yai : The Thai Yai can be found in the south of China, Burma, Laos and Thailand. They usually call themselves "Tai". They have lived in Mae Hong Son province for a long time; in fact it is said that they are the indigenous people of that area. At present, the influence of the Tai culture can still be seen in the way people dress and the many cultural ceremonies held in the province.
In 1995, The Highland Community Roster categorised the Thai Yai people as a minority group. According to a survey conducted at that time, there are a total of 13,810 Thai Yai people in 57 villages and 13 Amphoes, spread through four provinces of Thailand.
Jean Hor: The Jean Hor originated in Mainland China. During the Cultural Revolution, they migrated to the border between Thailand and Burma in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai to escape the onset of communism. Once settled in the area, they protected Thailand's border from the encroachment of the communist movement, which was expanding quickly through South East Asia at that time. The Thai government considered the Jean Hor political refugees and set up a community area in which they could stay.
The Highland community Roster categorised the Jean Hor people as a minority group in 1995. A survey set their population at approximately 20,000 spread through 65 villages, and 17 Amphoes in 5 provinces in Thailand.
These different Hilltribes live in four villages in a near-by area, which can be visited by tourists.
An elephant show is performed in the morning from 09.40 to 10.30 hrs. The show begins with elephants bathing in the pond to cool down, and then mahouts place a log harness on their backs. Finally, the elephants will demonstrate their formidable forestry skills. Elephant riding and rafting are the most enjoyable activities. Elephant shows are performed at the following places:
Tha Phae Mae Taman is along Highway No. 107 (Chiang Mai-Fang) for 43 kilometres, turn left for 7 kilometres. Contact tel. 0-5329-7060 for more information.
Pang Chang Mae Taeng is on the same route to Tha Phae Mae Taman. It is 9 kilometres from the entrance and is opposite the Mae Taman temple. For more information, contact tel. 0-5384-4 818, E-mail: email@example.com
Chiang Dao Elephant Training Centre is around Km. 56. Coming from Chiang Mai, it is on the right. The centre trains young elephants in forestry skills and is open to the public daily at 09.00 and 10.00 hrs. Contact tel. 0-5329-8553, 0-5386-2037 for more information.
Pang Chang Mae Sa is at Km. 10 of the Mae Rim-Samoeng route. Contact tel. 0-5329-7060.
Pang Chang Pong Yaeng is located at Km. 18.5 of the Mae Rim-Samoeng route. Take the same route that leads to Kangsadan Farm.
Mountain Biking. This is a fun activity that provides both good health and a relaxed feeling. Mountain biking can be done on several routes in Chiang Mai including around the old city moats, Doi Suthep-Khun Chang Khian-Huai Tung Thao, Huai Nam Dang, Huai Nam Ru, and Mae Taeng. Contact Chiang Mai Green Tour, tel. 0-5324-7374.
Homestay at Ban Mae Kampong: Ban Mae Kampong is some 50 kilometres east of Chiang Mai in Mae On district. The village is situated in a mountainous area with lush jungle surroundings. Visitors can experience real Thai village culture as well as enjoy several activities. Nearby attractions include beautiful waterfalls, a cotton weaving village and the Huai Hong Khrai Royal Agricultural Station. Reservations should be made through Erawan P.U.C., tel: 0-5327-4212-3, fax: 0-5327-6548.
A great many of the tourists visiting Chiang Mai make enquiries about hilltribe trekking. Of particular interest to most are the six major hilltribes who inhabit the Northern Highlands. The largest group is Karen, followed by the Meo, Lahu, Yao, Akha and Lisu. They share animist beliefs and honour numerous forest and guardian spirits. Each tribe has distinctive ceremonial attire, courtship rituals, games, dances, agricultural customs, puberty rites, languages or dialects, aesthetic values and hygienic habits.
Popular'Jungle Treks', lasting from 2 to 7 days, take visitors through forested mountains and high valleys and meadows, and include visits to remoter high-altitude hilltribe settlements for overnight stays. The best guides are hilltribe youths who customarily speak English, Thai and at least three tribal dialects.
Treks commonly feature travel by foot, sometimes by boat, elephant-back, horseback or jeep, and frequently a combination of two or three modes of transportation. Three main trekking areas, in which there are many different routes, are as follows:
- Chiang Mai - Mae Taeng Route usually includes a raft trip down the Mae Taeng River.
- Chiang Mai - Mae Hong Son Route take adventurers through spectacular mountain scenery, where some roads are virtually impassable except in the dry season.
- Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai Route offers an extremely pleasant, but potentially exciting long-tail boat ride on the Mae Kok River, all the way from Tha Ton to Chiang Rai.
The other major trekking areas in the North are Chiang Dao, Pai, Mae Chaem, Mae Chan, Ngao, Phrao, Wiang Pa Pao and Lampang.
Prospective trekkers are advised to shop around companies offering such tours, for the best conditions. All treks must be registered with the Tourist Police. This is done for the trekkers' protection. Avoid companies that do not abide by this law. Visitors are welcome to enquire and confirm from the Tourist Police which tour companies have negative or bad reputations, or visit the TAT Chiang Mai office to obtain a list of registered travel agents. The Tourist Police are located at 75 Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road, tel: 0-5324-8130 fax: 0-5324-8974
Also, avoid narcotics, essentially everything from'soft drugs' such as marijuana to'hard drugs' such as opium and heroin both during travel and at hilltribe villages. There are severe penalties for such usage. Valuables should be deposited in the safe of your hotel or guest house while you are trekking upcountry. Wear sensible clothing to protect your limbs and sleep under a mosquito net at night. Malaria is a real threat, and sensible precautions should be taken to avoid it. Visitors should remember to:
- Respect hilltribe beliefs and religious symbols and structures.
- Dress modestly. Hilltribe people are generally modest. Inappropriate attire may offend them.
- Ask permission before photographing someone. Some villages do not permit photography.
- Avoid trading western medicines and articles of clothing. Contributions to their welfare, items such as pens, paper, needles, thread, cloth and material used for embroidery are perfectly acceptable.
Trekking, prices are determined by the duration of the trip, transportation modes, meals available and the size of the trekking party. Average cost per person, for treks including 4-6 persons, is likely to be as follows:
- 2 days and 1 night/ 1,600 baht
- 3 days and 2 night/ 1,800 baht
- 4 days and 3 night/ 2,200 baht
The above costs include guide, transportation, full board & lodging inclusive of travel by elephant, raft, or other modes. Check directly with the Chiang Mai TAT office for current information.
Bo Sang Umbrella Festival is held in January in the Bo Sang Handicraft Centre. The festival features paper products, paper parasols in particular, cultural shows, a parade showing traditional ways of life, and several contests.
Flower Festival is held in February. The festival includes ornamental garden flower contests, floral float parade in the morning and beauty pageants. The parade begins at Chiang Mai Railway Station and passes Nawarat Bridge and ends at Nong Buak Hat Park.
Songkran Festival is held annually from 13 to 15 April. The 13 th of April is the Great Songkran day featuring the revered Phra Phutthasihing Buddha image parade around Chiang Mai town for bathing, sand pagoda making, blessing of elders, and water splashing.
Doi Suthep Pilgrimage On the night of Visakha Bucha Day, worshippers gather to light candles and make the 7-kilometre pilgrimage up to the temple on Doi Suthep.
City Pillar Inthakin Festival is held to invoke blessings of peace, happiness and prosperity for the city and its residents. Buddha images are paraded around the city. It is held at Wat Chedi Luang for 7 auspicious days and nights in the 7 th lunar month.
Yi Peng Festival is held annually on Loi Krathong day. It is a very interesting event of Chiang Mai. The festival features the release of lanterns into the sky to worship the gods. There are also fireworks, lantern contests, and beauty pageants.
Hotels and accommodation
- Al-Farooq : 341 Charoen Prathet Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5382 1107-11 Fax: 0 5382 1106] : 85 rooms : 360 baht
- Amari Rincome : 1 Nimmanhemin Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5322 1044, 0 5322 1130 Fax: 0 5322 1915] : 158 rooms : 1,500-5,535 baht
- Amity Green Hill : 24 Chiang Mai- Lampang Super Highway Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5322 0100-9 Fax: 0 5322 1602] : 198 rooms : 1,500-6,700 baht
- Amity Green Hills Hotel : 24 Super Highway Chiangmai- Lampnag Road, [(66 53) 220-100-2]
- Ang Khang Nature Resort : 1/1 Mu 5 Tambon Mae Ngon Doi Ang Khang, Amphoe Fang [(Tel: 0 5345 0010-9, 0 5345 0110] 1,200-47,000 baht
- Ang Khang Villa : 16 Mu 5 Tambon Ban Khum, Tambon Mae Ngon,Doi Ang Khang Amphoe Fang : 1,200-2,500 baht
- Angkhang Nature Resort : 1/1 Moo 5 Baan Koom, Mae Ngon, Fang [(66 53) 450-110]
- Anodard : 57 Ratchamankha Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5327 0755-8 Fax: 0 5327 0759] : 260-450 baht
- Apple House : 208 Mu 3 Fang-Tha Ton Road, Tambon Tha Ton Amphoe Mae Ai [Tel: 0 5337 3144, 0 5345 9315 Fax: 0 5337 3145] : 200-250 baht
- Arcade Inn : Soi 5 Kaeo Nawarat Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5324 9721-3 Fax: 0 5324 0925] : 590 baht
- Art : 19/4 Soi 1 Ratchadamnoen Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 5322 5128] : 100 baht
- At Home Lodge : 99 Mu 1 Tambon San Phisuea Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 5337 9379] : 150-200 baht
- B.R. : 6 Morakot Road Tambon Chang Phueak Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 5322 0061-2] : 300-500 baht
- Baan Klang Doi Hotel Resort & Spa : 190 Hangdong-Samaeng Rd., Banpong Hangdong [053-365-306-7]
- Babana:: 4/9 Ratchaphakhinai Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 5320 6285 Fax: 0 5327 5077] : 60-150 baht
- Ban Jong Come : 47 Soi 4 Tha Phae Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 5327 4823, 0 5320 7043] : 350-450 baht
- Ban Kaeo : 142 Charoen Prathet Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 5327 1606 Fax: 0 5327 3436] : 400-450 baht
- Ban Klang Doi : 190 Km. 16 Hang Dong-Samoeng Road Amphoe Hang Dong [Tel:0 5336 5306-7] : 2,000-8,000 baht
- Ban Suan Riverside Resort : 302 Mu 14 Tambon Tha Ton Amphoe Mae Ai [Tel: 0 5337 3173-5, 0 5345 9289 Fax: 0 5337 3215] : 100 baht
- Banana Bonbon Resort : 28-28/1 Moo 8, Tambol Baan Pong, Amphur Hangdong [(66 53) 365-440]
- Belle Villa : 135 Mu 5 Tambon Ban Pong Amphoe Hang Dong [Tel: 0 5336 5318-21 Fax: 0 5336 5322] : 3,200-6,700 baht
- Belle Villa Resort : 135 Moo 5, Tambol Baan Pong, Amphur Hangdong [(66 2) 693-3990 # 60]
- Bossotel :: 10/4 Rotfai Road, Tambon Wat Ket Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5324 9046-8 Fax: 0 5324 9099] :: :: 800-1,600 baht
- BP Chiangmai City Hotel :: 154 Ratmankha Road, Phra Sing, Muang [(66 53) 270-710-16]
- Bua Luang : 16/1 Huai Kaeo Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5322 1678 Fax: 0 5321 7338] : 500-1,500 baht
- Bua Rawong Resident : 129/9 Rakaeng Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5327 3283, 0 5327 6005, 0 5327 5762 Fax: 0 53820 602] : 450-600 baht
- C & C Teak House : 39 Bamrungrat Road, Tambon Wat Ket Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 5324 6966] : 80-150 baht
- Candy House : 1 soi 4 Charoen Prathet Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 5327 6457, 0 5381 8392] : 180-300 baht
- Center Place : 17/2 Soi 1 Loi Khro Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 5327 1169] : 450 baht
- Chiang Mai Gate : 11/10 Suriwong Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5327 9179, 0 5327 9221, 0 5320 3896-9 Fax: 0 5327 9085] : 800-1,000 baht
- Chiang Mai Hill : Huai Kaeo Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5321 0030-4 Fax: 0 5321 0035] : 1,600-4,000 baht
- Chiang Mai Inn : 15/1 Soi 2 Chaiyaphum Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5325 1400 Fax: 0 53 25 1401] :200-350 baht
- Chiang Mai Lakeside Ville : 308 Mu 1 Nong Phueng, Soi 8 Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road Amphoe Saraphi [Tel: 0 5332 2061-2 Fax: 0 5332 2062] : 800-2,400 baht
- Chiang Mai Lucky Inn : 359/7 Mahidol Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 05328 2061, 0 5380 1251-2] : 250-500 baht
- Chiang Mai Orchid : 23 Huai Kaeo Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5322 2091-6, 0 5322 2099 Fax: 0 5322 1625] :2,400-25,000 baht
- Chiang Mai Phu Wiang : 5-9 Chotana Road Soi 4 Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5322 1632, 0 5321 5232] : 250-350 baht
- Chiang Mai Phucome : 2 Khlong Chonprathan Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5321 1026-31 Fax: 0 5321 6422] : 1,350-1,950 baht
- Chiang Mai Plaza : 92 Si Don Chai Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5327 0036-50 Fax: 0 5327 9457 Bangkok Tel: 0 2276 2623-7] : 1,000 -13,000 baht
- Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel : 92 Sridonchai Road [(66 53) 801-630-1]
- Chiang Mai President : 226-8 Wichayanon Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5325 1025-31 Fax: 0 5325 1032] : 840-1,320 baht
- Chiang Mai S.P. : 7/1 Soi 7, Mun Mueang Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5321 4522, 0 5321 9402-4] : 500-700 baht
- Chiang Mai Sport Club : 284 Mu 3 Tambon Don Kaeo, Km. 7 Mae Rim-Fang Road Amphoe Mae Rim [Tel: 0 5329 8326-30 Fax: 0 5329 7897] : 2,400-6,500 baht
- Chiang Mai Travel Lodge : 18 Kamphaeng Din Road Amphoe Muaeng : [Tel: 0 5327 2448-9 Fax: 0 5327 1572] : 450-550 baht
- Chiang Mai Youth Hostel 1 : 21/8 Chang Khlan Road, Un Ruean Village, Tambon Pa Daet Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 5327 6737 Fax: 0 5320 4025] : 150-350 baht
- Chiang Roy : 23/1 Arak Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5341 6302, 0 5341 6304] : 350-800 baht
- Chiangcome : 51 Suthep Road Amphoe Muaeng [Tel: 0 5328 1016-9 Fax: 0 5327 8809] : 400-600 baht
- Chiangmai Gate Hotel : 11/10 Suriyawong Rd, T.Haiya A.Muang [(66 53) 203-895-9]
- Chiangmai Hill Hotel : 18 Huay Kaew Road [(66 53) 210-030-1]
- Chiangmai Mountain View : 103-105 Sripum Rd, [(66 53) 212-866]
- Amphoe Muang
- Arunrai : 45 Khotchasan, Tel: 0 5327 6947 (Thai food, A la carte)
- Ban Roi Chan : 7 Flr. Kad Suan Kaew, Tel: 0 5322 4333, 0 5322 4493 (Khantok Dinner)
- Ban Suan : 25 Mu 3 Tambon San Phisuea,Tel: 0 5385 4169-70 (Thai, European food)
- Chia Thong Heng : 193/2 Si Donchai, Tel: 0 5327 5242 (Chinese food)
- Chiang Mai Suki Rim Ping : 267/1 Charoenrat Road, Tel: 0 5324 6486, 0 5324 5609 (Sukiyaki, A la rcarte)
- Come In House : 79/3 Chiang Mai-Lampang Road, Tambon Chang Phueak, Tel: 0 5321 2516, 0 5321 2683 (Thai Northern style food),
- Darets : 4/5 Chaiyaphum Road, Tha Phae Gate, Tel: 0 5323 5440 (A la carte)
- Fai Food Center : 6/21 Suthep Road, Tel: 0 5327 8798 (A la carte),
- Huanpenn : 112 Ratchamankha Road, Tel: 0 5327 7103, (Thai, Northern style food),
- Huean Sunthri Wechanon : 46/1 Wang Sing Kham Road, Tel: 0 5325 2445 (Northern style food)
- Ka Lae : 65 Suthep Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-5327-8655
- Kab Kaew Suan Dok : 2 Soi 28 Wat Phra Non Chottana Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-5321-5748
- Kaeng Ron Bann Suan : 149/3 Soi Chomdon, Rim Klong Chonpratan Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-5321-3762
- Kaitong : 67 Kojchasarn Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-5327-6584
- Kaiwan : 181 Nimmanhemin Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-5322-2147, 0-5322-1435
- Khantoke Palace : 288/19 Chang Khlan Road, Tel: 0 5327 2757 (Khantok Dinner)
- Khum Khantoke : 139 Mu 4 Nong Pa Khrang, Tel: 0 5330 4121-3 (Khantok Dinner)
- Khumkaew Palace : 252 Phrapokklao, Tel: 0 5321 4315 (Khantok Dinner)
- Le Grand Lanna : 51/4 Chiang Mai- San Kamphaeng Road, Tambon Tha Sala, Tel: 0 5326 2569, (Thai)
- Makkaroni Sawoei : 29/10 Sam Lan Road, Tel: 0 5327 7949 (Noodle dish)
- Mit Mai : 42/2 Ratchamankha, Tel: 0 5327 5033, (Thai, Chinese)
- Nampueng Grilled Chicken : 40-42 Charoen Prathet Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-5327-1488
- Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center : 185 Wua lai Road, Tel: 0 5327 5097 (Khantok Dinner)
- Rim Ping Riverside : 9/11 Charoenrat Road, Tel: 0 5324 3239, (Thai, European food)
- Ruean Rim Ping : 40/1 Chang Khlan Road, Tel: 0 5327 5961 (Fish menu),
- Sawasdee : 84/3 Super Highway, Tel: 05322 1990 (Vegetarian food)
- Sipsong Panna : 66/2 Mu 10 Suthep Road, Tel: 0 5381 0695 (Khantok Dinner)
- Suan Phak : 61 Mu 3 San ambin Road, Tambon Suthep, Tel: 0 5320 1690 (European food)
- Suki Coca : 32/7 Huai Kaeo Road, Tel: 0 5322 1706 (Sukiyaki, A la carte)
- The Gallery : 25-27-29 Charoenrat Road, Tel: 0 5324 8601 (Thai, European food)
- Thong Chai Photchana : 200 Rat Chiang Saen Road, Tambon Hai Ya, Tel: 0 5328 2065 (Noodle dish)
- Whole Earth : 88 Si Donchai Road, Tel: 0 5328 2463 (Vegetarian food)
- Amphoe Mae Ai
- Chankasem : 209 Mu 3 Tambon Tha Ton, Tel: 0 5345 9313 (A la carte)
- Amphoe Fang
- Lim Nguan seng : 103 Km. 140 Chotana Road, Tel: 0 5345 2241 (Noodle dish)
- Thippharot : 399 Mu 5 Chotana Road, Tel: 0 5345 1024 (Noodle dish)
- Amphoe Mae Rim
- Mae Rim Lagoon : 65/1 Mu 6 Mae Rim-Samoeng Road (old route), Tel: 0 5329 7288, (Thai, Chinese, European food)
How to get there
* By car
- From Bangkok drive on Highway No.1 (Phahonyothin) to Highway No.32 passing the provinces of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Ang Thong, and Nakhon Sawan, then take Highway No. 117 to Phitsanulok and drive on to Highway No. 11 to Lampang, Lamphun and Chiang Mai. The route is 695 kilometres.
- From Bangkok drive to Nakhon Sawan and then take Highway No. 1 passing Kamphaeng Phet, Tak, Lampang, and Chiang Mai. The route is 696 kilometres.
* By bus
- The 10-hour journey from Bangkok can be made on air-conditioned buses originating from the Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2), contact tel. 936 2852 for more information. Buses leave for Chiang Mai several times a day from 8.00 to 21.00 hrs. In Chiang Mai contact Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Station, tel: (053) 242664.
- There are services from Chaing Mai's Chang Phuak Bus Terminal to various districts in Chiang Mai. Buses ply along the northern route (Highway No. 107) passing through Mae Rim, Mae Taeng, Chiang Dao, Chaiprakan, Fang and Mae Ai. Some buses continue to Tha Ton. Local city buses ply between Chiang Mai and Lamphun on Highway No. 106. Chang Phuak Bus Station tel: (053) 211586.:: By train
The State Railways of Thailand operates daily services from Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lamphong). Trains leave for Chiang Mai 6 times a day from 8.00-22.00 hrs. For more information, contact tel. 1690, 223 7010, 223 7020. Chiang Mai Railway Station, tel. (053) 242 094.
* By plane
- From October 20,2003, Phuket Air offers 2 daily shuttle service flights from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai with YS-11 aircaft. The journey takes only 40 minutes and the flight times are available at 07.30 and 18.00 hrs. For more information, call Bangkok Office 66 2679-8999 or Chiang Mai Office 66 5392 2118-9 or view at www.phuketairlines.com
- Thai Airways has numerous daily flights servicing the Bangkok-Chiang Mai route. In addition, they have daily flights connecting Chiang Mai with Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, and Phuket. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at Reservations by Phone 24 Hrs: Tel : 66 2628 2000, Chiang Mai office at tel. 66 5321 1044-7, or view their website at www.thaiairways.com.
- Bangkok Airways has 2 daily flights connecting Chiang Mai with Bangkok. In addition, they have daily flights servicing the Chiang Mai-Sukhothai route. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel: +66(0)265 5678 For Reservation tel: +66(0)265 5555 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Getting Around
- For relative short distances you can take a tricycle (Sam Lor). Short rides within the city cost between 20 and 30 baht. Longer rides may cost as much as 50 baht.
- Tuk-Tuks (three-wheeled motorised taxis) are also popular for short and quick journeys. Fares must be bargained in advance. Minimum fares are approximately 20 baht.
- The most common means of transport is a "See Lor" (literally "four wheel") or "Song Theao". They all are red-coloured and look like pick-up trucks but with a roof over the back. They pick up as many passengers as they can and drop them off as the drivers reach their destinations. To go by "See Lor", simply tell the driver your destination. Fares range from 10-20 baht according to the distance.