Chiang Mai – The Jewel of Northern Thailand

Chiang Mai – Some facts

This is our 4th time in Chiang Mai. The previous visits have always been shorter, 3-4 days. This time being here for 4 weeks we  have explored more of this great city.

Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second city (700km north of Bangkok) population 1.6m,  but in terms of quality of living, tourist attractions and development potential, it’s second to none in South-East Asia.

The city is famous for her friendly people, beautiful women, excellent food, refined handicrafts, cool climate and stunning mountain scenery. (Not so sure about cool, the evenings have been quite cool, sometimes down to 14c, the days have been a blistering 30c+).

In Chiang Mai there are more than three hundred Wats (temples).  Among them are some of the most beautiful and revered in the entire Buddhist world and  give the city an atmosphere of calmness and timeless elegance.

The most famous is Doi Suthep, which is located on a mountain overlooking the city.

Tha Phae Gate (picture below) is one of 5 gates that are part of the old city wall.

Chiang Mai is a place that holds numerous festivals, the most famous being Loy Krathong and Songkran.  They seem to have them for anything and everything. On the 5th Feb a flower festival took place, part of the streets around the city were closed and decorated floats, marching bands paraded in 30c+. This week-end there is a paper festival?

Thailand road planners cater mostly for cars and motorbikes, pedestrians are a second thought. Where a pedestrian crossings  exists, drivers take little or no notice, you have to be brave, make the buggers stop!  Pavements are blocked by parked cars, trees planted, street furniture is placed obstructing your path, signs for shops and  restaurants, even motorbikes use them.  I know that this is a bit of a rant but I’m having a miserable old git moment! but Chiang Mai is unique and a great place to spend time.

Songthaew drivers. We’re located about 10 minutes from the old city and in a apartment that is not particularly well known, so I always ask for  either the Tarin Hotel or ViangPing apartments which are nearby but when I say it they look at me as though I’m a stupid farang! I say it again I get the same look, I repeat it 2 or 3 times, finally they say it and sounds exactly what I have said 4 or 5 times.

We’re nearing the end of our stay here  and on Sunday 12th Feb we fly to Laos.   We have thoroughly enjoyed everything about Chiang Mai,  it is a great city. We will definitely be back.

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