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About Chiang Mai


       A city built on the roots of a traditional heritage that dig deep into the soil of time. A city with a distinct cultural personality of its own. Chiang Mai.


For centuries past, Chiang Mai has been the center of religious activity in Northern Thailand. During the Lanna Kingdom, Buddhism was the main religion that flourished and grew. Evidence of this is seen in the many ancient temples in Chiang Mai. Currently, 85%of the people in Chiang Mai are Buddhist. There are 1,250 temples in Chiang Mai province with 3,991 monks and 6,361 novices. Important religious functions and ceremonies are held at the Chiang Mai Buddhist Association, which also serves as an office for the Buddhist Youths Club. This club holds religious discussions and sermons every Sunday and Wan-Pra Day (Buddhist Holy Day).

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        Other religions are also present. Protestantism, Catholicism, and lslam are three, with 116 Protestant churches, 44 Catholic churches, and 12 mosques in Chiang Mai.


Chiang Mai hosts many Thai festivals, including:
  • Loy Krathong (known locally as Yi Peng): Held on the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, being the full moon of the 2nd month of the old Lanna calendar. In the western calendar this usually falls in November. Every year thousands of people assemble floating banana-leaf containers (krathong) decorated with flowers and candles onto the waterways of the city to worship the Goddess of Water. Lanna-style sky lanterns (khom fai or kom loi), which are hot-air balloons made of paper, are launched into the air. The sky lanterns are believed to help rid the locals of troubles and are also taken to decorate houses and streets.
  • Songkran: Held in mid-April to celebrate the traditional Thai new year. Chiang Mai has become one of the most popular locations to visit for this festival. A variety of religious and fun-related activities (notably the good-natured city-wide water-fight) take place each year, along with parades and a Miss Songkran beauty competition.
  • Chiang Mai Flower Festival: A three-day festival held during the first weekend in February each year, this event occurs when Chiang Mai's temperate and tropical flowers are in full bloom.
  • Tam Bun Khan Dok, the Inthakin (City Pillar) Festival, starts on the day of the waning moon of the six lunar month and lasts 6–8 days.


The inhabitants speak Kham Muang (also known as Northern Thai or Lanna) among themselves, though Central Thai is used in education and is understood by everyone. English is used in hotels and travel-related businesses and many educated people speak English. The Kham Muang alphabet is now studied only by scholars, and Northern Thai is commonly written with the standard Thai alphabet.


  • Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center.
  • Chiang Mai National Museum highlights the history of the region and the Kingdom of Lanna.
  • Tribal Museum showcases the history of the local mountain tribes.
  • Mint Bureau of Chiang Mai or Sala Thanarak, Treasury Department, Ministry of Finance, Rajdamnern Road (one block from AUA) has an old coin museum open to the public during business hours. The Lanna Kingdom used leaf (or line) money made of brass and silver bubbles, also called "pig-mouth" money. Nobody has been able to duplicate the technique of making pig-mouth money, and because the silver is very thin and breakable, good pieces are now very rare


  • The nearby national parks include Doi Inthanon National Park, which includes Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand; Doi Pui Suthep; and Obkhan.
  • Doi Pui Suthep National Park is just outside town. From all over Chiang Mai you can see the Wat Doi Suthep Buddhist temple looking down on the town from Doi Suthep Mountain.
  • Elephant Nature Park: Approximately 60 km (37 min) north of the city or about one hour drive, the Elephant Nature Park is home to approximately 30 rescued elephants.
  • Hill-tribe tourism and trekking: A large number of tour companies offer organized treks among the local hills and forests on foot and on elephant back. Most also involve visits to the various local hill tribes. These include representatives from the Akha, Hmong, Karen, and Lisu tribes.


Khantoke dinner is an old Lanna Thai tradition in Chiang Mai. It is an elaborate dinner or lunch which is offered by a host to guests at various ceremonies or parties, e.g. at weddings, housewarmings, celebrations, novice ordinations, or funerals. It can also be held for temple celebrations such as celebrations for specific buildings in a Thai temple and at Buddhist festivals such as Khao Pansa, Og Pansa, Loy Krathong, and Thai New Year (Songkran).


  • Nightlife in Chiang Mai consists of numerous bars, several discotheques and live music venues. The discotheques play a variety of music, ranging from electronic dance music to reggae, while live music venues feature solo artists as part of the roster. Also, Loi Kroh Road, in the center of the city, is well-known for the hostess bars that are located along the length of most of the street—the street also features a walk-in arcade, with a Muay Thai boxing ring, near the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel.
  • Bars and late-night restaurants are located throughout the city, but many can be found on either side of the moat's eastern flank (in the Thaphe Gate area). Live music venues are located is several areas: along the Ping River near Nawarat Bridge; along Immanent road in the western part of the city; or in the vicinity of the night bazaar.
  • Karaoke lounges can be found throughout the city, with many found on Chiang Mai Land Road; some very large establishments exist along the length of Chang Klan Road, extending south from the night bazaar. Go-go bars can be found in Chiang Mai, but they are less significant in comparison to karaoke venues.


  • Shopping: Chiang Mai has a large and famous night bazaar for local arts and handicrafts. The night bazaar sprawls across several city blocks along footpaths, inside buildings and temple grounds, and in open squares. A handicraft and food market opens every Sunday afternoon till late on Rachadamnoen Road, the main street in the historical centre, which is then closed to motorised traffic. Every Saturday evening a handicraft market is held along Wua Lai road, Chiang Mai's silver street on the south-side of the city beyond Chiang Mai gate, which is then also closed to motorized traffic.
  • Thai massage: The back streets and main thoroughfares of Chiang Mai have an abundance and variety of massage parlours which offer anything from quick, simple, face and foot massages,shanghai happy ending massage, to month-long courses in the art of Thai massage.
  • Thai cookery: A number of Thai cooking schools have their home in Chiang Mai.
  • For IT shopping, there's Pantip Plaza just south of Night Bazaar, as well as Computer Plaza, Computer City, and Icon Square near the northern moat and IT City department store in Kad Suan Kaew Mall.

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Chiang Mai is a city built on the roots of a traditional heritage that dig deep into the soil of time. It's a city with a beautiful cultural personality of its own. In addition, it's been blessed with much majestic beauty in nature. The people themselves are an unforgettable part of Chiang Mai. Handicrafts of silk, silver and wood are timeless souvenirs for visitors from all over the globe. Along with all this, a wide variety of accommodations, restaurants, and entertainment all help to make Chiang Mai one of Thailand's prime tourist attractions.

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