Most tourists are heading to Thailand looking for sunny beaches and exotic country. The more experienced travellers, however, travel directly to the north to the Thai Mountains. Here lies the famous Chiang Mai province surrounded by impenetrable jungle. Instead of hanging out on the beaches, you can go to the mountains, visit the elephant reservations, discover pure Thai culture, and discover amazing sights. What awaits you in this corner of the world? Meet another face of Thailand.

Chiang Mai is in the north of Thailand, surrounded by green mountains and beautiful national parks. It is the second-largest city in the country and is one of the starting points when travelling in the north. Chiang Mai is about 700 km from Bangkok; there is a cooler climate than in the Southern areas and, therefore, the surrounding landscape is very fertile. Far from the white beaches, turquoise sea and green palm trees, Chiang Mai is a popular destination. The city has an unmistakable atmosphere and has become a paradise for digital nomads and various freelancers who settle there for a long-term stay. What makes Chiang Mai so interesting? Come discover it with us!

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Chiang Mai offers hundreds of different sights

Chiang Mai is full of sights and diverse activities

Chiang Mai is a city located in the province of the same name, full of literally thousands of breath-taking monuments! In the 13th century, Chiang Mai was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lanna, which flourished and prospered. From this period, the most distinctive temple is Wat Phan Tao, with typical period architecture. In 1557, the kingdom was conquered by neighbouring Burma, who had the whole area under their dominion for many centuries. It was only at the end of the 18th century that the Thais managed to regain their territory. Although the province is part of Thailand, it has always retained some autonomy. The beautiful temples that adorn the whole town and its surroundings are a monument to various historical periods. Local culture is also much purer here; the inhabitants have preserved many interesting holidays and festivals, as well as mountain tribes in the local jungle. Check this one-week itinerary in Northern Thailand and see more than just Chiang Mai.

tom_profilDid you know that the city of Ayutthaya used to be the capital of Siam (Thailand) for centuries, and in those days, it was said that it was the most beautiful city? Today, it remains only ruins, but even those can acknowledge that the city must have been beautiful in its time. Ayutthaya is located just an hour from Bangkok, so be sure to make a short stop there while travelling.

The most prominent sights are in the city centre, which is divided into squares by moats. Here, you will find beautiful temples, such as Pansao, Duang Dee, Lok Molee, Phra Singh, Chedi Luang, Chiang Man and Tha Phae Gate. The oldest monuments in the area include the Wat Chiang Man temple, which hides a rare Buddha statue with its remains. If you want to soak up the real atmosphere of Chiang Mai, you must not miss the pearl of all the temples – Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, which lies on top of the city. The path leads to the summit dotted with classic souvenir stalls, but visiting the temple is a real experience.

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Phra That Doi Suthep Temple is truly fascinating

Besides the historical monuments, Chiang Mai is a modern city that invites you to visit various museums, luxury restaurants, shops, bars, hotels and local markets. The local cuisine is excellent and worth a taste. Thanks to many digital nomads, interesting educational courses are often organized in the city, including cooking, tai-chi, Thai boxing, yoga or Thai massage. The selection of activities is wide, and the location attracts for a longer stay. There’s still something to discover.

Go to the Chiang Mai festival

Locals like to celebrate the annual festivals and the most unusual festivities that bring tourists from all over the world. When planning a trip to Chiang Mai, it is a good idea to remember when the festivals take place. The most important include:

Floral celebration

This festival takes place every first weekend in February when thousands of live flowers scent the streets of the bustling city of Chiang Mai. Almost every corner is decorated with colourful flowers, and exhibitions of beautiful plants take place in the streets. A flower parade with dancers walks through the streets, and other activities related to the theme are available.

Loy Krathong Festival of Lights

This festival is very romantic and takes place during the full moon in November. The holiday includes lighting up candles and various lights, religious ceremonies, burning incense and sending boats on the water. The highlight of the evening is the launch of a thousand lit lanterns to the night sky.

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Festival of Lights is one of the most amazing experiences

Songkran Thai New Year celebration

This holiday is one of the most popular in Thailand. It takes place in mid-April when temperatures in all of Thailand often reach 40 degrees. So the streets of Chiang Mai literally engage in a water battle. Regardless of age, passers-by in the streets pour water, spray on each other with plastic guns, and sometimes, even powder. Watering as a celebration of the New Year, however, has its symbolism. Thais believe that by doing so, they wash away everything bad and can look forward to bright tomorrow. Each region in Thailand celebrates Songkran a little differently. Perhaps the wildest battles are taking place in Bangkok.

National parks and nature in Chiang Mai

There are several national parks around Chiang Mai. On mountainous terrain, there are dense tropical forests interwoven with waterfalls, mountain rivers and caves. Perhaps the most visited is the Doi Inthanon National Park, which is the highest mountain in Thailand. The mountain massif rises to a height of 2,565 meters above sea level and is often nicknamed as “The Roof of Thailand.” Some ornithologists report that there are over 500 bird species in the park, which is the highest number in Thailand.

Book a trip to Doi Inthanon National Park

eva_profilThe so-called Golden Triangle is the border region between Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. The area, once covered by opium smoke and the main territory of the drug mafia, is now a tourist paradise. Currently, the area is safe, but it is recommended to check the current situation before each trip.

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The forests around Chiang Mai are full of beautiful waterfalls

Elephants in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is known for its high concentration of elephant reserves. Near the city is the Elephant Nature Park, where you can meet face-to-face with these amazing mammals. Elephants have always been an important part of Thai culture and have been an integral part of it for centuries. For the last few decades, elephants have been used in logging and transport. With increasing technology, however, the local government banned the use of elephants for this work. Thousands of elephants lost their jobs in just a few moments. The animals live for about 70 years, and their owners care about them as part of their family. Each elephant undergoes special training and works for most of his life before he can retire. Every animal consumes about 250 kg of food a day, so the elephant must really work hard every day.

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Do not support the elephant’s mistreatment and rather visit one of the reservations

So the elephants have found their place in tourism. As an attraction, they carry tourists on their backs, paint pictures, or are trained for various circus performances. Although these activities seem innocent, in fact, there is hard training behind them, often bordering on abuse. Nowadays, rescue stations and reservations are being created where old or rescued animals are placed, and they take care of them in a completely different way. Tourists can visit such a reservation, spend the day with elephants, feed them, bathe and feel good about it. If you want to see elephants close, find out in advance if there are many possibilities.

If you have visited Chiang Mai, what do you like most? Did you visit some of the local festivals? Write us a comment!