A journey to the North of Thailand would not be complete without visiting the laidback city of Chiang Mai, known as ''the rose of the North''. Founded in 1296, Chiang Mai is now an amalgam of the old walled city and the new metropolis which has grown around it. 'It's a city of contrasts; more than 300 revered temples, with a mixture of Lanna Thai, Burmese and Sri Lankan styles, take their place next to the fast-paced, traffic-ridden streets and modern buildings. Over the last twenty years, tourism has become ubiquitous in this once sleepy area, though it still retains much of its charm. While it may be continuing to modernise, it is still possible to get a feel for Chiang 'Mai's Thai roots and traditions.
There is much to do, see and experience within the city limits and amongst the lush countryside and rainforest surrounding it. One of the most popular experiences is a visit to an elephant experience. We'd urge extreme caution in this: they vary hugely in their approach to elephant welfare. Our consultants would be happy to guide you here. While in the countryside, you can also get off-the-beaten-track on our cycling tour as you explore farming life, the vibrant market trade and Buddhist traditions between pedalling through rice fields and plantations.
In the city, you could easily spend plenty of time meandering through the streets, shopping in boutiques and eating your way through the lively markets and street food stalls. For a memorable cultural experience, at dawn, you can watch as monks clad in saffron robes emerge from their monasteries to collect alms. Nowhere is this sense of spirituality as potent as at the sacred Doi Suthep Mountain just outside of Chiang Mai. Here you can witness the serene procession of monks before ascending the 309 steps to reach the golden pagodas at the top.
Are you considering a visit to Chiang Mai? Speak to our Thailand experts to discover how you can get the most out of your time in this exciting city.