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Chiang Mai

Destination: ChiangMai

Chiang Mai -- The Rose of the North

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Chiang Mai is situated on an elevated plain, about 300 meters altitude. In the East and the West mountain ranges line the city. In 1296 Chiang Mai was founded by King Mengrai and was the capital of the Lanna Kingdom - the kingdom of 1 Million Rice fields. Mengrai was a Thai-Lao prince from Chiang Saen.  He managed to unite several Thai clans and his influence throughout the North grew, he finally took over Haripunchai (today's Lamphun) a Mon-Kingdom,  and made Chiang Mai the capital of his Kingdom.
The 15th century was the golden age of the Lanna Kingdom. In 1478 the Buddhist world council was held in Chiang Mai. Only the relationship with Ayutthaya has been overshadowed by wars and competition. In 1515 Lampang was conquered by Ayuttaya and in 1556 the Kingdom of Lana became part of the mighty Burmese King Bayinnaung. After the decline of the Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Mai was under Burmese hegemony. 1775 General Taksin managed to make  Chiang Mai part of  the kingdom of Siam.
However, in some parts of the Old City with its many temples you can still feel the peace and tranquility of the ancient times. 33 of Chiang Mai's 79 temples are located in the Old Town. The footprint of the town is a square of approx. 1500 meters length. Part of the old city walls around the moult are still intact. The old city can easily be explored on foot. For other excursions either rent a motorbike if you are an  experienced driver or take a taxi or tuk tuk. Bicycles can be rented as well, however as traffic is dense, and quite dangerous.
The three most interesting temples in the Old City
Wat Phra Sing - Attractions
Not Rated
Wat Phra Sing (วัดพระสิงห์วรวิหาร) (ChiangMaiOldCity)

Wat Phra Sing ,organically named Wat Li Chiang, is one of the most important temples of Chiang Mai. The temple was constructed during the time of Phra Chao Kham Fu.During the Songkran festival between 13 - 15 April, people come to the temple to splash water on the worshiped Buddha image named Phra Buddha Sing housed in Viharn Lai Kham. The Viharn Lai Kham is a beautiful ancient gilded chapel with delicate woodcarvings and northern style murals.

Wat Chiang Man - Attractions
Not Rated
Wat Chiang Man (วัดเชียงมั่น) (ChiangMaiOldCity)

Wat Chiang Man is the oldest temple of Chiang Mai built by King Mengrai in 1296.
Wat Chiang Man houses a small famous Buddha image called Phra Kaeo Khao. Another image called Phra Sila Khao, they reflect the fine workmanship of Indian craftsmen from thousands of years ago. A delightful ancient chedi surrounded by elephant statues can also be seen at the temple.

Wat Chedi Luang - Attractions
Not Rated
Wat Chedi Luang Varaviharn (วัดเจดีย์หลวงวรวิหาร) (ChiangMaiOldCity)

The stupa of Wat Chedi Luang was supposed to be 90 meters high in 1454. After an earthquake it was destroyed and all that remained was the 60 meter ruin of the chedi. In one of the niches the emerald Buddha resided here for 84 years before it was taken to Vientiane. On the left you can see the statue of Lak Muang the guardian Buddha of Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai also calls itself the Rose of the North and has developed into a modern city with a population of over a million. Just like Bangkok, Chiang Mai has many modern faces, such as universities, an international airport, golf courses, shopping malls, international food chains,  IT stores, international restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries. Spas as well as  luxury  five star resorts are not missing either.
Chiang Mai still has a backpacker scene along with middle  and high class accommodation. You can find the full range of hostels, hotels, resorts and luxurious places. There is a lot to explore in and around Chiang Mai. Take a stroll through the old town. Visit one of the modern shopping malls, take a tuk tuk up to Doi Suthep and beyond to a small mountain village where time stands still. Go trekking in the national parks of Chiang Mai province - check out more in the chapters on your left.
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