Northern - Chiang Mai
North of Thailand – Chiang Mai:
Chiang Mai, 700 kilometers north of Bangkok, is Thailand’s second largest city, but is cooler and more relaxed than the capital. This “Rose of the North” as it is known, is noted for its history, culture and ancient temples, including the exquisitely peaceful Doi Suthep. Chiang Mai is also unique for its traditional handicrafts, created today in surrounding villages as they have been for generations. North and west of Chiang Mai, where Thailand meets with the borders of Myanmar (Burma) and Laos, lies the Golden Triangle, a region of rugged hills, forests and rivers. Hidden away are the villages of many picturesque hill tribe people, who retain their distinctive dress and customs. Historic towns, such as Chiang Rai, Wat Thaton and Mae Hong Son, are among the sightseeing highlights of this region, while nature-lovers will surely enjoy the diversity of scenery
Chiang Mai was found by King Mengrai, who united several tribes and called the new land Anachak Lanna, Chiang Mai was the capital of Lanna Thai for a long time. It was often attacked, for it was a rich prize. And in the course of time, Chiang Mai came under the control of the powerful Ayutthaya kingdom, and then of Burma. But in 1774, King Taksin recovered it from Burma. Since then Chiang Mai has been a province of Thailand. Popular tourist attractions in Chiang Mai consist of Buddhist temples as well as remnants of a moat and fortified gates which bear testimony to the city’s eventful past. Among the many temples, Doi Suthep monastery is perhaps the most famous. Built in mid-14th century, it is situated on top of a mountain, about 18 kilometers from the town. Leading up to the wat is a 300-steps staircase with sinuous side-railings in the shape of nagas.
The staircase itself comes at the end of a long, winding road up the mount, which is a pleasant drive in fine weather. The view of the city and its surrounding is indeed breath-taking.