Chiang Mai, Thailand: information about the city and the main attractions

Top 5 best places to see in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai what to see

The first thing that tempted me to trade the beautiful beaches for the city was the promised coolness. My body, tired of the constant exhausting heat, already refused to leave the room with air conditioning, and Chiang Mai so temptingly named the northern capital of Thailand. This prefix and information from the Internet about the weather in Chiang Mai, misled me when I followed my husband’s request to travel to Thailand to see the highest mountains in the country. Chiang Mai what to see on your own and what sights beckon tourists from all over the world here will be devoted to this article.

Chiang Mai excursions what to see

To be accompanied by a Russian guide in Thailand, we always book tours online through a convenient service Tripster. In fact, there are registered the same companies that sell tours in street shops. Just booking a place online, we are sure of a money-back guarantee in case of cancellation, and we can choose a guide according to the reviews on the site

Chiang Mai Thailand on a map

As we see on the map Chiang Mai is located in the highest northern point of Thailand, above the only city with a similar name Chiang Rai, but today we will not talk about it. To give you an idea of the value of this city for the country, it can be called the Thai Peter. So, meet Chiang Mai, the cultural and historical capital of the land of smiles and sun.

Chiang Mai Thailand on the map

How to get to Chiang Mai when traveling independently in Thailand

Since we were on the island of Phangan at the time, we contacted a local travel agency, where we were put together an itinerary “Phangan – Chiang Mai”, which included:

  • Ferry ticket to Surat Thani pier. In general, the city of Surat Thani in Thailand is a sort of marshalling yard, from there go boats and ferries to the islands, there is a railway and bus stations. And the place itself is nothing interesting. So wherever you go, the Thais will almost always have a stop in Surat Thani on the ticket.
  • A ticket for a bus to the train station,
  • Surat Thani to Bangkok train ticket.
  • Bangkok to Chiang Mai commuter train ticket

If you buy the tickets yourself, they will cost you a little cheaper, but we used such a long route for the first time – so we asked for help at the travel agency, where we found a convenient time and explained how to make a change from one transport to another.

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Public transport in Thailand is a separate topic of conversation. Such cleanliness in the train carriages and friendly attitude to people we definitely have not met in Russia. Despite the ridiculous ticket prices of 500 baht, the train covers a distance of 751 kilometers on the tracks. We had a seated carriage and we were fed for five hours of travel! Yes strange as it may sound, but here you don’t have to worry about grabbing a snack or water on the way. Everything is brought, served and taken away!

Chiang Mai Thailand sights

The seat is lowered and you can take a nap. There’s air conditioning in the cars, and we were even given plaids.

Chiang Mai Thailand sights

Top 5 best places to see in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is not just the largest city of Thailand, but its cultural capital with temples and pagodas, whose number exceeds 300. Therefore it is well promoted as a popular tourist destination. On the streets you can buy a bunch of excursions from orchid farms, ending with a village of long-necked women.

But as you can understand, that’s not what attracted us, or rather my spouse. The interest of his life was and remains – the mountains. Indeed, entering this ancient town you immediately see the majestic peaks, the tops touching the clouds. And they are really the highest in Thailand – on top of their snow lies, which never melts. And the highest mountain in Thailand is Doi Inthanon, which we are here for.

To me personally, these days in town – seemed like torture, because the promised coolness, there was not. Or rather, to find it, it was necessary to climb these very mountains. And in Chiang Mai table so hellish heat that the word northern capital, we have said with irony. It seemed that the thermometer was over 50 degrees in the sun and the asphalt was melting under our feet. So we couldn’t visit any temples and went for a walk about the city only after dark.

В первый же день после заселения в отель, мы сняли мотобайк. Находясь в длительном путешествие по Тайланду, мы теперь не представляли своей повседневной жизни без этого вида транспорта. Кстати, за весь наш отдых в Тайланде, именно в Чианг Май оказались самые низкие цены на отели, еду на ночных рынках. А вот аренда мотобайка обошлась нам здесь дороже, чем на островах Самуи и Панган. Но мы искали хороший байк, с исправным двигателем и тормозами, так как муж собирался доехать на Дой Интханон самостоятельно. О том как снять мотобайк в Таиланде и можно ли ездить без прав, я писала в этой статье >>>

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1. temples of Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a city of hundreds of temples, so do not set yourself the goal to bypass them all, it is not necessary, just visit the most beautiful and unusual. The city is built on the principle of the square, that is, its historical part is enclosed by walls that face different sides of the world. Another feature – this architectural style, which can be traced influences from the Sri Lankan, Burmese and modern cultures.

Top – 3 temples in Chiang Mai, a must-see:

01. Wat Chedi Luang Temple is the tallest structure in all of Chiang Mai. Famous for its giant stupa, Chedi Luang, and the shorey trees towering next to the Temple’s columns. Admission is free. Opening hours: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. GPS coordinates -18.786989, 98.986569

Wat Pra Sing Temple is one of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai, the first stone was laid in 1345. By the way, the ashes of King Pa Yiu, who started its construction, rest in the temple. GPS coordinates are 18.788606 and 98.981240. Opening hours are 6 am – 6 pm. Entrance to the grounds is free, the main viharn is 50 baht.

03. Wat Chiang Man Temple – was built in the 13th century during the reign of King Mengrai and is considered the first temple within the city walls, so it was the starting point for the discovery of Chiang Mai. Under the gilded Chedi are statues of 15 elephants. The floor of the temple is paved with handmade ceramic tiles. There is a beautifully landscaped garden and a lotus pond on the grounds. GPS coordinates are 18.793824 and 98.989275. Working hours: 6 am – 5 pm. Entrance free.

2. Mountain of Thailand Doi Suthep (Doi Suthep).

On the outskirts of Chiang Mai is the highest mountain Doi Suthep 1.685 meters, it is visible from all sides in the city, on its slopes there are several observation sites and the Temple of the same name.

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Because of the heat on the top is best to climb in the evening, you can do it alone on a bike or on a minibus labeled “Doi Suhhep”, the ticket will cost you 40-60 baht. On foot you can do it only if you are an athlete, because the way to the top takes about 15 kilometers of serpentine mountains, and it is constant turns and winding paths.

Entrance – to the mountain is free, parking is free, entrance to the Temple – 30 baht, opening hours of the Temple from 08.30 to 16.30 daily.

What to see – 24 meter stupa, see the whole of Chiang Mai as if in the palm of your hand, get a blessing to fulfill a wish from a monk in the Temple, see the local rituals and rare nationalities of Thailand, such as the black Hmong and the red Zao

Where is it located – on the north eastern outskirts of Chiang Mai, GPS coordinates – 18.816399, 98.891945

Chiang Mai Thailand sights

The top of Mount Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai

3. Thailand’s Mount Doi Inthanon and National Park

The trip to the national park where Mount Doi Inthanon is located takes a full day, because it is 58 kilometers from Chiang Mai. You can get either on their own by bike or as part of a tour. On a trip to the park is advisable to stock up on warm clothes, as at the top temperature can go down to 11 below, and of course on a multi-hour trekking need comfortable shoes.

Entrance – the ticket for the entrance to the park is 300 baht, to the waterfalls 40 baht. If you take the finished tour in the agency, the price for it will be from 1500 baht. Keep in mind that if you visit independently, each visitor is a free guide.

What to see – trekking to the highest mountain peak in Thailand at 2,559 meters, see the rice fields and coffee plantations, taste coffee made by local tribes, enjoy waterfalls and rivers with beautiful rapids, see rare birds and trees entirely covered with moss;

Where is it located – on the north eastern outskirts of Chiang Mai, 75 to 90 minutes away, GPS coordinates -18.588059, 98.487056

Chiang Mai Thailand sights

At the top of Mount Doi Inthanon

Chiang Mai Thailand sights

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On Doi Inthanon, there is also a metal tower, where my husband tried to climb, apparently he lacked the height of the mountain.) At first the guide let him do it, but then, seeing as he climbed up, he got scared and waved his hands. Although they may not have understood each other: with a modest knowledge of English, my husband communicated with the locals more in sign language.

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Chiang Mai Thailand sights

4. Zoo in Chiang Mai. There is a panda!

And yet I did not come to Chiang Mai for nothing, in addition to the temples there is a place that did not leave us indifferent and remembered as one of the best attractions in Thailand. Before that we went to the zoo in Phuket (Phuket Zoo), but it did not impress us much. For the record – this is one of the most visited zoos in Asia, every year more than 5 million tourists come to the zoo in Chiang Mai.

What is good about this zoo and what is the main difference from the others: the absence of cages. All the animals live in an environment close to their usual habitat – these are large aviaries – seemingly well-kept and clean. I especially liked the field with bambi deer, and the most unusual inhabitants of the zoo in Chiang Mai are penguins.

The main feature of this zoo is the live pandas, leased from China for a fee of $1 million a year! Considering the fact that there are only 1600 pandas left in the world, China has a death penalty for killing this animal. If you still do not know who the panda is a raccoon or a bear – I advise you to visit here, or judge for yourself by these photos. Here live a boy and a girl panda, their names are Chuang – Chuang and Lin – Hui, they are 16 and 15 years old, which is more than 50 years of human age.

In 2009, the couple had a baby girl panda, which was a big event for Thailand, the baby weighed 200 grams at the time of birth. The girl was born perfectly healthy and mother Lin-Hui took care of her cub. After reaching the age of two, the captive-born panda was transferred to China according to the lease agreement.

Boy panda Chuang – Chuang Girl panda Lin – Hui

Chiang Mai Thailand sights

Chiang Mai Thailand sights

Chiang Mai Thailand sights

Chiang Mai Thailand sights

Admission – parking 10 baht. For visiting the zoo ticket prices are 100 baht for adults and 50 baht for children, then for viewing the pandas you have to pay separately: entrance to the enclosure with bears – 100 baht. But it is worth it – they are so cute, though give the impression of lazy: always chewing bamboo and lounging in a lazy pose. Because of his extra weight, the panda boy Chuang-Chuang was put on a diet, as a result of which he lost seven pounds.

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Schedule – opening time of the zoo in Chiang Mai from 8 – 17 hours, the area on which it is located is huge and mountainous, so for the convenience of visitors there is a monorail and bus. If you like walking on foot (like us) you can walk there on your own and it will take at least three hours.

How to get there – The zoo is located at the foot of Doi Suthep Mountain in Chiang Mai, at GPS coordinates -18.809658 and 98.947562. You can get there by bus marked “Chiang Mai Zoo” or by bike.

5. The Village of Long-necked Women

This is one of the most popular exotic excursions that lure tourists to Chiang Mai. People from all over the world go to the village of long-necked women to see with their own eyes how the northern tribes of Thailand live. What is this show for tourists or real-life savagery among the women of the Karen hill tribe (Kayan)? The fact that the Karen women wear rings around their necks voluntarily and in addition to this, they put rings around the necks of their babies from the age of five, and this is not a whim to make money from tourists, but a real ancient Asian custom. Its origins lie so far back that now they themselves do not know the original reason for wearing the rings around their necks. It can be as protection against a tiger attack as well as to attract men.

How to get there, where is it – the village is a 40 km. drive from the city center, you can go on a guided tour of the same name, the entrance to the village costs about 500 – 600 baht.

What to do and see – how to live the northern tribes in Thailand, not burdened with the benefits of civilization, to buy handicrafts from local craftsmen to see the life of the village from the inside, take a photo in the national costume.

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