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Thailand

Chiang Mai Expat Travel Guide

Thailand doesn’t only need to be about beaches and nightlife; Chiang Mai, the cultural centre of the north of the country, is so much more. Situated on the banks of the Ping river, at the foot of the Doi Pui mountain, Chiang Mai is surrounded by hills and mountains covered in dense teakwood forests, where woodcutters will still use working elephants to move and transport heavy tree trunks.

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Chiang Mai Wallpaper

Chiang Mai Wallpaper

When approaching the city from the air (there are regular connecting flights from Bangkok at very reasonable rates) the golden roof of the Wat Prathat temple on top of the Doi Suthep holy mountain are among the first things that catch the eye, and a sight that is likely to be remembered for a long time.

Cheap Flights to Chiang Mai

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However, there are ways of approaching Chiang Mai and see even more – much more in fact, as the journey lasts some eight hours – and that is by train. Using the local buses is not recommended; roads are narrow and traffic unruly. Once safely arrived in the city, you can choose to explore it on foot, as the city centre is quite compact, or to go in local style, either in so-called Tuk-Tuks, a kind of motor-powered rickshaw, or by Songthaew, an open pick-up truck with seats. Seasoned travellers advise giving preference to the Tuk-tuks.

This 700-year old city, which is also called ‘The rose of the north’, is still steeped in traditional Thai ways and customs and offers a wealth of experience to the traveller. Inhabited by a colourful mixture of northern mountain tribes and the northern Thais, or kon mueang, which consider themselves to be the ‘true’ Thais; it has retained much of their cultural values and traditions across the centuries. The friendliness in this city is legendary, and as a visitor you could not wish for more gentle and polite hosts.

Although Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand after Bangkok, it only has about 5% of Bangkok’s population, making it an ideal escape from the busy hustle and bustle of the capital. Despite the unavoidable modernisation of recent years, the charming and laidback city provides plenty of tranquil spots and literally hundreds of splendid teakwood temples, a wealth of unspoilt tradition and a multitude of other sights such as a moat and bustling street markets. As a result, Chiang Mai is not only popular among tourists, but also among the Thai themselves, who in summer seek refuge from the sweltering heat of the south. There are also highly recreational hot springs in San Kampaeng, only 45 minutes from Chiang Mai, which offer a unique bathing experience and recreational huts for the perfect relaxation.

Chiang Mai Wallpaper

Chiang Mai Wallpaper

There is also plenty of excellent shopping to engage in: Chiang Mai lives up to its reputation as the Thai centre of traditional handicraft and art and there are high-class silk, wool, silver and pottery products to buy and to admire.

Even the more adventurous tourist will find plenty to keep you busy, from adventure trips to the national parks, waterfalls and elephant riding to river rafting and trekking in the mountains to the north of the city.

History of Chiang Mai

The origins of Chiang Mai, also called ‘The rose of the north‘, can be traced back more than 700 years. The city had an unusual start – not, as one might imagine, in Thailand, but in Southern China, in the Yunnan province. This province housed a successful Siamese Kingdom named Nanchao, reigning from the middle of the 7th century for 604 years. However, in 1254 the kingdom was invaded by Kublai Khan, whereupon many of its inhabitants fled south towards the northern Thailand of today.

The migrants laid the foundation for several cities, including Chiang Mai, (meaning New Town), at the foot of the Doi Suthep and on the west bank of the Ping river, in 1256. However, at first the founder of Chiang Mai, King Mengrai, had to defeat the Haripoonshais, who been ruling culture, art and religion for 600 years.

Luckily, the many spectacular architectural styles and Buddhist art forms were maintained during King Mengrai’s rule, and can still be admired today, for instance in the small town of Lamphun, about 30 km south of Chiang Mai. King Mengrai settled about 180 km further north in a town called Chiang Rai, where he founded the Lannatai Kingdom, the ‘Kingdom of 1,000 paddy fields’, originally a very small kingdom indeed, which however expanded over the next 30 years to include the entire north of the country.

In 1291 Chiang Mai became the new capital of King Mengrai’s kingdom, and a town wall and a moat were built to protect the new capital. A wise foresight as it turned out, as there was trouble on the horizon: The southern part of Thailand, earlier Kingdom of Sukhothai under King Ramkhamhaeng, had, after initially being supportive of his dwarf neighbour, started attempts to subordinate it. Due to its position between Burma and the areas under Siamese influence, Chiang Mai was subsequently destroyed several times. Today the crumbling town walls, built of red brick, bear witness to a violent past.

Between 1556 and 1774 Chiang Mai was ruled by the Burmese, who imposed many strict and downright cruel restrictions on the population. The population was finally so distraught with the imposed rulers that it abandoned the city altogether, making Chiang Mai a ghost town for the 20 years to follow.

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Reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as Thailand, Germany & Switzerland. Born near Cologne and a longterm resident of Bangkok, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phuket. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu. Love to follow the English Premier League , the German Bundesliga and the Spanish La Liga.

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Thai Covid-19
3,998
Confirmed
21
Confirmed (24h)
60
Deaths
0
Deaths (24h)
1.5%
Deaths (%)
3,803
Recovered
3
Recovered (24h)
95.1%
Recovered (%)
135
Active
3.4%
Active (%)
In Thailand, the health authorities reported 21 new corona infections by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration within 24 hours. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the CFCSA has counted a total of 3,998 infections with Sars-CoV-2 in Thailand. The number of deaths related to the virus rose 0 to a total of 60.

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