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Chiang Mai Travel Guide - Travel S Helper

Chiang Mai

travel guide

Chiang Mai, often known as “Chiengmai” or “Chiangmai,” is Northern Thailand’s biggest and most culturally important city. It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province and was formerly the capital of the Kingdom of Lan Na (1296–1768), which became the Kingdom of Chiang Mai, an atributary kingdom of Siam from 1774 to 1899, and eventually the seat of a largely ceremonial monarch until 1939. It is located 700 kilometers (435 miles) north of Bangkok and is surrounded by the country’s tallest mountains. The city is located on the banks of the Ping River, a significant tributary of the Chao Phraya River.

Chiang Mai, which means “new city,” was called when it became the new capital of the Lan Na kingdom when it was constructed in 1296, replacing Chiang Rai, the previous capital founded in 1262.

Chiang Mai rose to prominence in the political sector in May 2006, when the ASEAN states and the “+3” countries signed the Chiang Mai Initiative (China,Japan, and South Korea). Chiang Mai was one of three Thai cities competing to host the World Expo 2020. (the others were Chonburi and Ayutthaya). However, Ayutthaya was eventually picked by the Thai Parliament to register for the international competition.

Chiang Mai has positioned itself to become a Creative City and is contemplating seeking for UNESCO Creative City accreditation.

Chiang Mai’s historic significance stems from its closeness to the Ping River and significant trade routes.

While Chiang Mai’s official city (thesaban nakhon) only spans most of the Mueang Chiang Mai district and has a population of 160,000 people, the city’s sprawl stretches into many surrounding districts. The Chiang Mai Metropolitan Area has a population of approximately one million people, which is more than half of the entire population of Chiang Mai Province.

Nakhon Ping, Srivijaya, Mengrai, and Kawila are the city’s four wards (khwaeng). The first three are on the Ping River’s west bank, while Kawila lies on the east side. The district of Nakhon Ping encompasses the city’s northern outskirts. The west, south, and east regions of the island are represented by Srivijaya, Mengrai, and Kawila, respectively. The city core is largely located inside the Srivijaya ward, which is surrounded by city walls.

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Chiang Mai | Introduction

Chiang Mai – Info Card

POPULATION : • City Municipality 148,477
• Metro 960,906
LANGUAGE :  Thai, English (secondary language of the elite), ethnic and regional dialects
RELIGION :  Buddhist 94.6%, Muslim 4.6%, Christian 0.7%, other 0.1%
AREA : • City Municipality 40.216 km2 (15.527 sq mi)
• Metro 2,905 km2 (1,122 sq mi)
ELEVATION :  310 m (1,020 ft)
COORDINATES :  18°47′43″N 98°59′55″E
SEX RATIO :  Male: 49%
 Female: 51%
ETHNIC :  Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11%
DIALING CODE :  +66 53
WEBSITE :   Official website

Tourism in Chiang Mai

According to Thailand’s Tourist Authority, 14.1 million people visited Chiang Mai in 2013: 4.6 million foreigners and 9.5 million Thais. Tourist arrivals are predicted to increase by 10% to 9.1 million in 2016, with Chinese visitors growing by 7% to 750,000 and overseas arrivals increasing by 10% to 2.6 million. Since 2011, tourism in Chiang Mai has grown by 15% every year, mostly due to Chinese visitors, who account for 30% of foreign visits.

Chiang Mai has an estimated 32,000-40,000 hotel rooms, and Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) is Thailand’s fourth biggest airport, behind Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and Don Mueang (DMK), as well as Phuket (HKT).

As part of a five-year strategy, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) intends to advertise Chiang Mai as a worldwide MICE city. The TCEB anticipates that MICE income will increase by 10% to 4.24 billion baht in 2013 and that the number of MICE travelers would increase by 5% to 72,424.

Tourists have placed a burden on the city’s natural resources. Chiang Mai is plagued by uncontrolled growth, air and water pollution, waste management issues, and traffic congestion. Local governments seem to be impotent to enforce zoning and building regulations.

Chiang Mai, founded in 1296 CE, is a culturally and historically significant city that was formerly the capital of the ancient Lanna kingdom. Located in the undulating Himalayan foothills 700 kilometers north of Bangkok, it could only be accessible by a difficult river travel or an elephant trek until the 1920s. Chiang Mai’s special charm has been preserved as a result of its seclusion.

The walled city is the ancient heart of Chiang Mai (“city” is chiang in the northern Thai dialect while mai is “new”, hence Chiang Mai translates as “new city”). Sections of the wall after its reconstruction a few decades ago remain at the gates and corners, but the remainder has been demolished save for the moat.

More than 30 temples dating back to the foundation of the principality are housed inside Chiang Mai’s existing city walls, ornamented with magnificent wood carvings, Naga stairs, leonine and heavenly guards, golden umbrellas, and pagodas interwoven with gold filigree. The most renowned is Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, which is located 13 kilometers away on a hill and overlooks the city.

Modern-day Chiang Mai has grown in all directions, but especially to the east, along the banks of the Ping River (Mae Nam Ping), where Changklan Rd, the famed Night Bazaar, and the majority of Chiang Mai’s hotels and guest homes can be found. Loi Kroh Rd () is the epicenter of the city’s (tourist) nightlife.

Locals believe you haven’t really experienced Chiang Mai until you’ve seen the view from Doi Suthep, eaten kao soi, and bought an umbrella from Bo Sang. Of course, this is tourist nonsense, but for the locals, kao soi, Bo Sang umbrellas, and Doi Suthep are cultural symbols.

The moat and the ruins of the wall that surrounded the ancient city are Chiang Mai’s most prominent physical features. It is the reference point for traveling around the city, measuring about 6.5 kilometers in diameter.

The east and west sections of the ancient city have distinct personalities. The east side contains the most guesthouses, restaurants, motorcycle rental businesses, travel agencies, and other tourist-oriented services. The northeast quadrant, in particular, is a maze of guesthouses, restaurants, massage parlors, and other tourist-oriented enterprises. The western part is primarily Thai, including a blind school, a coffin store, the Chiang Mai branch of Thailand’s National Library, and five or six largely table-top BBQ restaurants (mu gràtá) that are nearly always full with Thai customers.

Climate of Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai’s northern position and modest elevation result in a more mild environment than the city’s southern counterpart.

There are three different seasons in Thailand, like in the rest of the country:

  • cool season from Nov-Feb.
  • hot season from Mar-Jun.
  • wet season from Jul-Oct.

Internet, Comunication in Chiang Mai

Thailand’s government restricts Internet access. According to 2010 estimates, the number of banned websites is 110,000 and increasing. Approximately 77% are banned due to lèse majesté, material (anything that defames, insults, threatens, or is unpleasant to the monarch, including national security and certain political topics), and 22% for pornography, which is outlawed in Thailand. Some online sites dealing with Thai political material from BBC One, BBC Two, CNN, Yahoo News, the Post-Intelligencer newspaper (Seattle, USA), and The Age newspaper (Melbourne, Australia) are restricted. The Daily Mail (UK) is completely prohibited.

Wi-Fi is available at many guesthouses, hotels, cafés, pubs, restaurants, and even swimming pools. These are typically either free or have a minor fee. If you are traveling with a laptop, you should be able to connect to the Internet for free or at a low fee within a 500 m radius of your Chiang Mai city-based hotel.

The Ministry of Information announced the opening of 3,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots in Chiang Mai in November 2012. The initiative, dubbed ICT Free Wi-Fi for the Public by AIS, provides a monthly download speed of 10 Mbit/s for up to five hours. There are hotspots around schools, retail malls, hospitals, and government buildings. Those interested must register for the free service at ICT Free Wi-Fi, following which they will be assigned a user ID and password.

Internet cafés may be spotted all around the city. Prices range from 10 baht per hour (in “gaming” establishments crowded with local youngsters) to 60 baht every half-hour (2 baht per minute) and higher. Most establishments charge by the 15 or 30 minute block, while some charge by the minute. The cheapest and most comfortable establishments with fast connections, camera, microphone, and Skype are located along Huay Kaew Road, near the main entrance to Chiang Mai University, and cost between 10 and 20 baht.

If you have a laptop and a local SIM card, GPRS/EDGE is an inexpensive and simple way to access the Internet in Thailand. Most of the city is covered by TrueMove 850 MHz 3G.


  • Directory inquiry service: 183/1133
  • International and domestic operator-assisted service: 100
  • Overseas dial-out code: 001
  • AT&T International operator for collect calls: 001 999 11111
  • Mobile phones in Thailand have 10 digits, including the leading zero. Land-line telephones have 11 digits, including the leading zero.


  • Airport 24-hr Post Office, 60 Moo 3, Airport Rd,  +66 53-277382.
  • Changklan Post Office, 186-186/1 Changklan Rd,  +66 53-273657.
  • Chang Phuak Post Office, 195/8-9 Chang Phuak Rd,  +66 53-222483.
  • Mae Ping Post Office, 24 Praisanee Rd,  +66 53-252036-7.
  • Main Post Office, Charoen Muang Rd,  +66 53-241 070, +66 53-245376.
  • Phra Sing Post Office (Singharat Rd (3 min walk south of Wat Phra Singh)).
  • Talat Kam Tieng Post Office (Assadathon Rd, near Tesco Lotus, just off the super highway). This is the post office where you send and receive large items like bicycles and motorcycles.
  • Tha Phae Post Office (West side of Tha Phae Gate on Ratchadamnoen Rd, 25 paces down the street from Black Canyon Coffee). Daily, 08:00-20:00. Because of its hours and central location, this little PO is the most convenient for most tourists. They provide packing services, faxing, international phone calls, and sell postcards, stamps, and other items.



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