Monday, June 16, 2008

Chiang Mai The Northern Rose

Chiang Mai or the rose of the North is a city with a history and a popular. Tourist destination. A perfect holiday spot with good accommodation, great food, excellent climate and friendly people.
King Mengrai built the city of Chiang Mai in 1296. Historically speaking, Chiang Mai succeeded the nighnouring Chiang Rai Kingdom of King Mengrai. The king, who was the Prince of Nan Chao (in what is now southwest China), had earlier conquered the post-Dvaravati kingdom of Haripunjaya (modern Lamphun) in 1281. In the 13th and 14th centuries Chiang Mai became a part of the Lan Na Thai kingdom (the kingdom of a million rice fields). In 1556, the Burmese captured the city once again the first time was in the 11th century during the reign of King Anuruddha of Pagan. In 1775, the Thais recaptured it under King Taksin. As a result of these long occupations Chiang Mai architecture today shows a great deal of Burmese influence. The city is still small enough for one to getaround by bicycle-which gives it a ratherprovincial, relaxed air there are other pluses-pure Clean air and almost no traffic jams.Popular tourist attractions include Buddhist temples (of which the city has over 300 at the last count and the remnants of the moat and fortified gates, which bound the old city.This mountain getaway is also a convenient jumping-off point for treks, hill resorts, river rafting and scenic nature trails. The best time to visit Chiang Mai is from November to February, which is the cool season. The hottest month is April and the wettest September.


Begin at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the biggest of Chiang Mai's tourist attractions, 16 kms northwest of town. Leading up to the wat is a 300-step staircase with sinuous naga side-railings. The temple, in its scenic location, is important both historically and architecturally. On the same leg of your tour, drive on to Phu Ping Palace, the winter palace of the royal family the gardens of the palace are open to the public during weekends and holidays. Wat Chiang Man. One of the finest examples of northern Thai architecture, it was built by King Mengrai in 1296. The wat has massive teak columns, and a marble Buddhist bas-relief that stands 20 to 30 cms high. This sculpture is believed to have originated in India or Sri Lanka some 2,500 years ago. Also of interests is the 10 cm-high Crystal Buddha. Wat Chedi Luang. The temple structure was built in the mid-15th century, and was severely damaged in either the 16th or 17th century. It is in a state of partial ruin, but is greatly revered by locals. The wat also plays a part in local Buddhist history, with the story of the Emerald Buddha being sited here in the late 15th century figuring prominently.Wat Kuu Tao Dating back to the early 17th century, the outer wall feature amusing sculptures that enlivens the otherwise staid temple architecture. With its spheres that diminish in size towards the top, the chedi of Wat Kuu Tao is unique in the region.Wat Phaya Sigh is Chiang Mai's best known wat. Construction of the wat began in the middle of the 14th century, with the viharn being completed by the end of that century, and bot by 1600. The wat takes its name from the Phra Singh Buddha image, which dates back at least 300 years and is supposed to have originated in Sri Lanka. However the statue's travels are clouded in a mist of uncertainty; a fact that heightens the myth surrounds the statue.Old Chiang Mai Cultural Centre on Chiang Mai-Hang Dong Road, is the stage centre for Lanna Thai cultural performance with a Khantoke dinner, the northern traditional style dinner. Objets d'art available for sale.Ban Rai Phai Ngam is a village of weavers famous for its cotton woven in the old style, To the left of the Chiang Mai Hot route Km68, about 4 kms off the main road.


Nature has a lot to offer in Chaing Mai.Doi Inthanon National Park is the highest peak in Thailand and one of the best equipped to welcome visitors offering marvelous scenery. There are several waterfalls in the park, Most well known is Mae Klang Waterfall.Doi Pui Tribal Village of Meo iss about 4kms from the Phu Phing Palace. Just and hour from the city, it offers a wonderful view of Doi Inthanon and handmade souvenirs.Doi Ang Khang is a demonstration site for cultivating exotic vegetables and flowers under the patronage of His Majesty the King. Haui Nam Dang National Park commands a breathtaking view of seas of mist, flower beds and tribales villages, It is about 60 kms along the Mae Malai-Pai Highway and then 6 kms on turning right On the same route is Haui Nam Roo (Sam Mueng), offering several tourist attractions such as Lisu villages, a huge opium field, coffee farm and fruit cultivation.There are several resorts mostly built in traditional Northern style: Chiang Mai-Erawan Resort, Mae Sa Valley, Kangsadan Resort, Royal Ping Garden and Resort Chiang Dao Hill, Ksisda Doi and many more.


Besides temples, there is a lot to see in this city. Tribal Research Institute is the place OT go to if you are interested in getting to know more about the several getting to know more about the several and quite different hill tribes of the region The institute is located on the Chiang Mai University campus, and has a small but excellent hill tribe museum, which features among other thins-hill tribe crafts and literature on the tribes. The crafts and literature on the tribes. The museum is open Monday to Friday, from 8.30 is to 4.30pm.Chiang Mai Arboretum. Next to the Chiang Mai University, very attractively landscaped gardens.Orchid Farm and Butterfly Farm. Along Mae Rim-Samoeng Road at Km 3 is the centre of all northern orchids. Two nearby orchid farm, Mountain Orchid and Sai Nam Phung Orchid Nursery grow the Queen of the Forest that blooms all year round. On Km 4 Mae SA Butterfly Farm has all types of butterflies.Elephant Shows. At Km 10 on the Mae Rim-Samoeng route. Every morning trained elephants demonstrate their formidable and highly valued forestry skills at Elephant Training Centre. On the same route at Km 19, elephants can be seen at the Pong Yaeng Elephant Centre also. Chiang Dao Elephant Camp is a riverside enclave, at Km 56 on Highway 107, featuring daily shows of elephants at work and elephant rides.

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