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Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city, and the capital of the province that shares the same name. Its majestic location in the mountains of northern Thailand, and its cool climate make it a popular destination for local Thai people and westerners alike. Chiang Mai is the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Siam, and to this day, the city retains much of its historical charm.
Chiang Mai is located some 700 kilometers north of Bangkok and is well known for its local Lanna inspired cuisine, beautiful surrounding scenery, ornate temple sites, and also for growing coffee.
Tourists flock to the city year round in the millions, each year with an average turnout of about 5 million visitors. As such the city has grown into somewhat of a mini metropolis with many of the amenities foreigners are used to back home, as well as large shopping centers and modern architecture.
Chiang Mai is a bustling city with a relaxed vibe. It’s a great city to experience Thai culture, and it is full of convenient western amenities, and awe-inspiring tourist sites.
700 YEAR OLD WALLS IN THE CENTER OF CHIANG MAI
Despite the vast development in Chiang Mai, you don’t have to look far for evidence of the ancient Kingdom and culture that once thrived there. 700 year old walls from the ancient Lanna kingdom still stand in the center of the city, from a time when Chiang Mai was surrounded entirely by a moat. The vast evidence of a rich history, and the presence of some 300 Buddhist temples stand testament to the city’s culture and character.
It’s no wonder there are over 300 Buddhist temples in the area though, Thailand is around 95% Buddhist. Buddhist celebrations and ceremonies at the local temples and in the streets are not an uncommon sight.
The people of Chiang Mai are generally of mixed origin, with the heritage of many stemming from Myanmar, Laos, and China. In addition to the aforementioned ethnic influences, there are still many tribes living in the remote hills of northern Thailand, many of which are still practicing ancient traditions and religion.
Northern Thailand and Myanmar were previously heavily forested and the terrain made it difficult for overland communication, which in turn led to many small communities and tribes developing independently, forming their own new traditions, rituals, and religions, and cultural identities. Visiting these hill tribes and getting a window into their lives is one of the many attractions around Chiang Mai and the north.
Chiang Mai has a lot to offer tourists. There are plenty of ways to explore the natural beauty of Northern Thailand such as trekking, motorcycle tours, cycling tours, volunteering, and even checking out Chiang Mai’s famous “Grand Canyon Site.” There’s also no shortage of fun nightlife and entertainment in the city as well.
The people of Chiang Mai are generally of mixed origin, with the heritage of many stemming Myanmar, Laos, and China. There are still many tribes living in the remote hills of northern Thailand, many of which still practicing ancient traditions and religion.
Northern Thailand and Myanmar were previously heavily forested and the terrain made it difficult for overland communication, this led to many small communities and tribes developing relatively independently, forming new traditions, rituals, and religions, and ultimately a diverse range peoples. This is one of many attractions around Chiang Mai and the north.
Along with the hill tribes, there are plenty of things to do in and around Chiang Mai including trekking, motorcycle tours, cycling tours, volunteering, a vibrant nightlife and much more.
KHAO SOI~ A FAMOUS NORTHERN DELIGHT
The food in Chiang Mai and the north is slightly different from that in other parts of Thailand. Different sections of Thailand have developed slightly different food cultures throughout history, differing mainly because of the varying terrain and climates.
One of the North’s most famous dishes is Khao Soi, a creamy noodle curry loved by both locals and tourists. This is one tasty dish not to miss when visiting Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai is a city rich in history, diverse heritage, and majestic scenery, a nice contrast to the sunny beaches and islands in the south. The city’s unique charm and mountainous beauty make it a great place to experience life and culture in Northern Thailand.
Ultimately Chiang Mai encompasses a slightly lesser known side of Thailand with a rich history, diverse heritage, and majestic scenery that contrasts that of the sunny beaches and islands in south.
One could say that Chiang Mai and the surrounding areas have more to offer in cultural sense than other popular areas of Thailand, and that mixed in with the charm and beauty of the city against the mountains makes this city unique and interesting.
OUR ADVENTURE AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN THAILAND
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Teach in Thailand
Thailand is a popular destination for ESL teachers who are interested in experiencing an ancient and diverse culture and beautiful natural scenery.
Volunteer in Thailand
Our volunteer in Thailand program is an incredibly rewarding experience. Explore Thailand and make a difference by giving communities the gift of English.
Intern in Thailand
XploreAsia is looking for qualified interns to join our marketing/program coordination team.