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Chiang Mai
In recent years Chiang Mai (also referred to as “The Rose of the North”) has established itself as one of Thailand’s most popular cities for visitors. Not only it is Thailand’s 5th largest city, it probably offers a wider variety of attractions than any other holiday destination in the country. Located some 700 kms north of Bangkok and just 120 kms from the border with Burma, Chiang Mai is situated at the bottom of a valley that is nearly fully surrounded by mountains. This region also possess costumes, cuisine, dances, architecture and a dialect that are unique and reflect the deep rooted culture of the local people. The region is also famous for handicrafts and Thai arts. Keep your eyes out for shops that offer wooden carvings, some of the pieces are simply out of this world!


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Did You know about Chiang Mai.. ?
- Chiang Mai is just about 150 kilometers from Chiang Rai
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Doi Suthep
Chiang Mai is one of the most beautiful regions in Thailand and the city itself has held on to its ancient culture, natural charm and mystery with temples (Wats) galore to visit and soak up the tranquillity of the surroundings. The oldest of these Wats is in the north-east part of this historic city, Wat Chiang Man. It is located off the Ratchapakhinai Road which dates back to 1296. This particular temple is famous for the “Lanna-style chedi” on elephant shaped supports. One of the first things, you will notice on your arrival to this magnificent city, is the old city wall and a large moat that fully surrounds it (strictly no fishing).

Of course, no trip to Chiang Mai would be complete without a
shopping trip to the local markets and night bazaar. These bustling parts of the city must be experienced at least once, as there are so many unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells, be prepared for perhaps one or two surprises when taking in the huge range of food on offer. It is perhaps best to plan trips to the temples and markets for the evening as there are so many other things to do and see in the day-time.
There are also many
museums and cultural centres in the city that preserve the history, art and culture of the region, encapsulation the Lanna kingdom and the famous northern hill tribes, and these are excellent attractions, especially on a rainy day.
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In the area that surrounds the city there is so much more to see that will fill your day with ease. Chiang Mai Zoo, is situated at the bottom of Suthep Mountain adjacent to Chiang Mai on the north-west outskirts of the city. Apart from offering approximately 400 different animal species it has some superb views of Chiang Mai city itself. The zoo is built on the side of the mountain, so if you feel a walk is too strenuous in the heat, there are hop on/off shuttle buses available to take away the strain.

Chiang Mai also boasts several
National parks, notably Doi Inthanon National Park, Sri Lanna National Park, Doi Suthep - Pui National Park, Huay Naam Dang National Park and Ob Luang National Park. Doi Suthep - Pui National Park is perhaps the most visited, as it is just 12 km from the city. If you enjoy breath-taking scenery, this is a “must see". Part way up the mountain in this park is one of the most revered and famous Buddhist temples - Wat Prathart Doi Suthep. It is wise to be modestly dressed when visiting this temple and the body should be covered at all times. Once you have taken in the spiritual and mysterious aspects of this highly impressive Wat make your way to a purpose built viewing area and be prepared for one of the best views in the region.
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Another famous attraction in the region is the Elephant Camps where you can ride an elephant through the local countryside, watch them perform tricks in daily shows and even buy yourself a picture painted by an Elephant. Elephant camps are popular in Thailand and the majority are in the Chiang Mai region, but one word of caution – do not book a trip or purchase tickets for an Elephant camp other than directly from the camp itself.

If Elephant rides are not for you, perhaps a day at one of the local flower gardens is. Ratchaphruek
Flower Gardens is perhaps one of the most popular among tourists; again as it is very close to the city and is located on the outer ring road. Every year, starting in early February, is the Chiang Mai Flower Festival. Flower beds in the city public spaces spring in to life adding tremendous colour and fragrance as Chrysanthemums, Damask Rose, Dendrobium orchids, and Daoruang stand proud in their displays. The main focus of the festival is at the Suan Bauk Hadd public garden, located in the south-western part of the city near the moat, where stalls are set up for the sale of flowers, plants, orchids and decorations for the garden.
There are other attractions that are of a more physical nature, such as hill walking, trekking etc. available and Chiang Mai also offers several golf courses, many of which are 18 hole courses. They are generally very well looked after as they typically form part of a resort so you can expect a high standard of fairways, greens and not to forget, hospitality. Most courses will also supply a caddy but perhaps not all caddies can speak good enough English to be really good value, it is advisable to try and talk to some caddies before paying for this service, unless you just need someone to carry your golf clubs.
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Many people, when they think of Thailand, think about the raunchy nightlife, bars and massage parlours, with glittering neon signs. While such establishments exist in Chiang Mai (if this is your scene) it is far more discreet than cities such as Pattaya for example.

Finally, a few quick words on the
weather – hot and humid ! On a typical day, it is highly advisable to wear something to cover your head. Thailand is just about the same everywhere, there are 2 monsoons seasons, wet and dry. The dry season is typically from December to June and the wet season from July to November. It is the early period of the dry season where temperatures are more comfortable.
In some parts of the Chiang Mai region there have been reports of overnight frosts and even snow on some of the higher ground in the mountain ranges. Typically within the city the temperature is unlikely to fall below 15C and that typically only lasts for 2 or 3 nights in December.

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