Chiang Mai - top 10 Must see attractions

chiang-mai-top-10One of the many questions Thais may ask a foreigner visiting Thailand is ‘Have you been to Chiang Mai yet?’, underscoring the feeling that Chiang Mai is a keystone of any journey to Thailand.

Chiang Mai (เชียงใหม่) is the gateway to Northern Thailand. With a population of over 1,603,000 and growing, Chiang Mai is Thailand's largest city after Bangkok. With a cosmopolitan air and a significant expat population, it's much greener and quieter than Bangkok, factors which have led many Thai visitors from Bangkok to settle permanently in this "Rose of the North". Located on a plain surrounded by mountains, the peak of Doi Suthep looms just 13 kilometers away and  looks over the city and surrounding lush countryside.

Along with Sukhothai further south, it was the first Southeast Asian state to make the historic transition from domination by Mon and Khmer cultures to a new era ruled by Thais. (Thailand) – Chiang Mai (Thailand) – Chiang Mai Located more than 700km northwest of Bangkok, Chiang Mai has in excess of 300 temples (121 within the municipal limits) – almost as many as there are in Bangkok – a circumstance that makes the old city centre visually striking.
Thais idealise their beloved northern capital as a quaint, moated and walled city surrounded by mountains with legendary, mystical attributes.
In reality, Chiang Mai is a dynamic and modern city, which has successfully managed to combine its rich history and traditions with its increasingly modern side. 

Chiang-Mai-Doi-SuthepWat Phrathat Doi Suthep 
Rated #1 for all Chiang Mai things to do. This temple is Chiang Mai's most important and visible landmark, and overlooks this city from its forested mountainside backdrop.

It is 15 kilometres from town, 3,520 feet above sea level, and dates from 1383. this temple is approached on foot by climbing a steep staircase comprising 290 steps. this less energetic can ascend by funicular rail cars. this temple's golden pagoda contains holy Buddha relics, and attracts Buddhist pilgrims from all over this world throughout this year.
The pagoda of this temple is the symbol of Chiang Mai and this temple situated in Doi Suthep mountain in the city center of Chiang Mai as many travellers have to visit this historical site to pray and respect to the pagoda for good luck. It can be said that if you come to Chaing Mai and you don't visit this temple, it will be deemed that you have never come to this province. 

Doi-Inthanon-National-ParkDoi Inthanon National Park 

Rated #2 for all things to do. This 1,005 square-kilometer Park located south of Chiang Mai City is, in parts, mountainous and wild. Species not found elsewhere in Thailand can be found here. Perhaps its biggest draw is Doi Inthanon, Thailand's tallest mountain. Standing at 2,565 meters, it offers one of the best places in Thailand for bird watching. Other attractions include Wachiratarn Waterfall, twin stupas dedicated to the king and queen and hill-tribe villages. On higher ground, one can see wild orchids growing. Trekking tours can be arranged through many agencies in Chiang Mai. This is a great trip by motorcycle.This park is cool year round and a good respite from Thailand's hot season. In December and January temperatures of around 6 Celsius are common. Forests include evergreen, pine and mixed deciduous teak & mountain pine. Wildlife is decreasing due to encroachment and poaching, but the more remote area will have gibbon, serow, deer, tigers, hare, wild pigs. 

Queen-Sirikit-Botanic-GardenQueen Sirikit Botanical Gardens 

Rated #3 for all things to do. In the 1930s, Englishman Dr. Kerr started a small botanical garden in this location 12 kilometers along the Mae Sa Valley. The current garden covers a large area that incorporates many vegetation types, including some rare species. The mountain location makes it an enjoyable escape for everyone, particularly nature enthusiasts. The best time to see the flowers in bloom is during the cool season. Visitors can take a leisurely walk along the many winding nature trails and generally get away from it all.  The Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, this northern oasis has become an internationally recognized centre for botanical study and research, providing services on biodiversity and environmental conservation, while creating an aesthetic place for the general public. From the roadside, visitors enter the gardens via a bridge over a stream, and are greeted by an explosion of colour from beautiful flower beds on manicured lawns. 

chiang-mai-mae-sa-elephantMae Sa Elephant Training Center & Camp 

Rated #4 for all Chiang Mai things to do.  In the lush tropical jungle of Chiang Mai's Maesa Valley , a big family of elephants lives side by side with their mahout caretakers. The Camp is home to one of the largest assembly of elephants in the north of Thailand . Our philosophy is to create a natural and healthy environment for the elephants while working to conserve and breed them,due to the dwindling number of Asian elephants left in the wild. Come and watch the majestic elephants in one of Thailand's best elephant camps along the Mae Sa Valley. With shows every day , you can watch these mammoth creatures play football  , among other tricks. There are also opportunities to ride an elephant through the local countryside, feed them with bananas and sugarcane, and take plenty of photographs. Also within the camp you will find an elephant nursery and a rafting center. 

Chiang-Mai-Zoo-PandaChiang Mai Zoo 

Rated #5 for all Chiang Mai things to do. Chiang Mai Zoo was established by the The Zoological Park Organization, Thailand in 1974. Situated on 531 Rai of verdant forest land at the foothill of Doi Suthep mountain, the zoo is surrounded by hilly terrain which is home to thousands of species of wild plants and flowers adorning the natural landscape of valleys, streams and waterfalls. Chiang Mai Zoo is the first and only zoo in Northern Thailand where visitors can experience the excitement and intimacy of various species of animals in their natural habitat. This zoo houses more than 6,000 animals in an environment comprising two waterfalls, reservoirs, an open park, camping spots and animal breeding areas. It also offers some spectacular views of the city. It is best to hire a vehicle as it is too big to walk and bicycles and motorbikes are not allowed.         

Wat-Phra-SinghWat Phra Singh 

Rated #6 for all Chiang Mai things to do. In the centre of the city Wat Phra Singh is located in the western part of the old city centre of Chiang Mai, which is contained within the city walls and moat. The main entrance, which is guarded by Singhs (lions), is situated at the end of the main street (Rachadamnoen road) of Chiang Mai. The road runs east from the temple, via Tapae Gate, to the Ping River. It is probably Chiang Mai's best-known temple, housing the Phra Singh image. Of particular note historically is Wihaan Lai Kham in the back, featuring Lanna-style temple murals and intricate gold patterns on red lacquer behind the altar. The large chedi was built in 1345 by King Pha Yu to house the remains of his father King Kam Fu. A typical scripture repository is located at this temple as well. These repositories were designed to keep and protect the delicate sa or mulberry paper sheets used by monks and scribes to keep records and write down folklore. 

Night-safariChiang Mai Night Safari

Rated #7 for all Chiang Mai things to doChiang Mai Night Safari (CnS) is a goverment nature theme park which is built to promote Chiang Mai tourism regarding to the government's policy apart from arts, cultures, traditions, and the beauty of nature which are the main fascinating tourist attractions. The government also works for the promotion of Chiang Mai Airport in order to make it an international airport which will allow Chiang Mai to be the tourist center in Indo-China and Southeast Asia. Therefore, if you are looking for a place to visit, a place to hang out at night amidst the real natural environment where you can relax and learn ecosystem, wildlife and natural resources not only in terms of quantity but also quality, Chiang Mai Night Safari is the best answer for you. Chiang Mai Night Safari is located at Doi Suthep-Pui National Park which covers Tambon Nhong Kway, Hang Dong District, and Tambon Mae Hia, Muang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai Province. 

Chiang-Mai-Hot-SpringsHot Springs  

Rated #8 for all Chiang Mai things to do
Fang Hot Springs Hot springs shooting up to the sky. It is one of the least spoiled areas of Thailand. Doi Pa Hom Bok Clum, 2285 meters high, is the second tallest mountain in Thailand, strong winds blow all round and have caused the mountain to have a flat top from where there is a magnificent view. There are several spectacular waterfalls and caves. 
Sankampaeng Hot Springs  Finish a day's shopping in Sankampaeng and wind down at the hot springs with hot tubs and a pool. The drive to the small weaving village of Sankampaeng passes a large number of handicraft shops and the famous umbrella village of Bo Sang. Some three kilometres beyond the village, is a pleasant forty-acre park containing hot springs. 
Muang On Cave For something totally different to see and do, try to fit in your trip a visit to the Cave in the Chiang Mai area. The cave is a fascinating place to visit. 

Wat-Chedi-Luang Wat Chedi Luang 

Rated #9 for all Chiang Mai things to do Prapokklao Road. Located directly in Chiang Mai centre. In its day, Wat Chedi Luang must have been the most impressive temple in Chiang Mai. Built about 600 years ago, the huge chedi which gave the temple its name (the name of the temple translates to "royal pagoda") must have soared high above the surrounding city. We say "must have" because the chedi was mostly destroyed within a few hundred years of its construction. Some say it was an earthquake in the 17th century that did the deed; others say it was King Taksin's cannons firing on the city to chase out the Burmese in the 18th century. The pagoda has been partially reconstructed, but the spire has not been recreated since nobody can be sure what it looked like. Jade Buddha Reproduction of the Emerald Buddha in the Eastern niche of the chedi. 

Wiang-Kum-KamWiang Kum Kam the Underground Ancient City 

Rated #10 for all Chiang Mai things to do.  Wiang Kum Kam [ the former capital city of King Mangrai ] [ 1288 ] King Mangrai founded this settlement around 1286-1288, making it the capital until he moved to Chiang Mai in 1296. He fortified it and enclosed it with a moat by diverting the flow of the Ping River. Subject to constant flooding, the site was buried under mud when the river changed during the Burmese reign. Restoration of the area began in 1980s, and it is now a historical park. The Wat Kan Thom lies in the centre with a Lan Na style chedi and new viharn built in 1987. The story - In 1984, just outside the modern Chiang Mai metropolitan area, archaeologists uncovered the remains of an ancient city. Research concluded that this was the city of Wiang Kum Kam, one of many fortified cities built by King Mengrai as he consolidated his hold on the north.