Chiang Mai sometimes written as “Chiengmai” or “Chiangmai”, is the largest and most culturally significant city in Northern Thailand. It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province, and was a former capital of the Kingdom of Lanna (1296–1768), which became a tributary state of the Kingdom of Chiang Mai from 1774–1939. It is 700 km (435 mi) north of Bangkok, among the highest mountains in the country. The city sits astride the Ping River, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya River.
It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province and was a former capital of the Kingdom of Lanna (1296–1768), which became a tributary state of the Kingdom of Chiang Mai from 1774–1939. It is 700 km (435 mi) north of Bangkok and is situated amongst the highest mountains in the country. The city sits astride the Ping River, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya River. Chiang Mai means “new city” and was so named because it became the new capital of the Lanna kingdom when it was founded in 1296, succeeding Chiang Rai, the former capital founded in 1262.
Chiang Mai gained prominence in the political sphere in May 2006, when the Chiang Mai Initiative was concluded between the ASEAN nations and the “+3” countries (China, Japan, and South Korea). Chiang Mai was one of three Thai cities contending for Thailand’s bid to host the World Expo 2020 (the others were Chonburi and Ayutthaya).[
Chiang Mai has positioned itself to become a Creative City and is considering applying for Creative City status with UNESCO. Chiang Mai was one of two tourist destinations in Thailand on TripAdvisor‘s 2014 list of “25 Best Destinations in the World”, where it stands at number 24.Chiang Mai’s historic importance is derived from its close proximity to the Ping River and major trading routes.Nestled into the foothills of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a sanctuary. The pace is laid-back, the accoutrements are international and the landscape is picturesque. It is a fine urban specimen with a much-celebrated traditional culture ideal for sightseers, nature buffs and city connoisseurs. The Lanna kings who ruled the north from ancient Chiang Mai built a moated quarter filled with a multitude of temples. These houses of worship are adorned with mirrored mosaics, tinkling bells and gabled rooftops soaring skyward as if in communication with the heavens. Wandering around these sacred spaces you’ll find art, architecture and enlightenment, as many offer monk chats and meditation courses to tourists who are willing to do more than just look.
Beyond the historic centre is a dynamic and modern place with lots of down-to-earth charm. Bangkok refugees, artists, international NGO-workers and hip university students mix together, carving out creative spaces amid Thailand‘s ubiquitous concrete shophouses, many of which are being abandoned for the spacious suburbs. Head down to Th Nimmanhaemin and you’ll glimpse the city’s future movers and shakers, intent now on moving and shaking it in the nightclubs and bars. Maintaining an ever watchful pose over the metropolis, the mountains of Doi Suthep and Doi Pui are constant and scenic reminders of the city’s mythical beginnings. A journey from the steamy plains into the mountains’ cloud belt is a winding and meditative escape.
Chiang Mai is the ideal location for building a second home, to retire or simply to have an unforgettable vacation.