Chiang Mai, 761 kms. by rail, 700 kms. by road north of Bangkok, with an area of 20,107.1 sq.kms., is Thailand's second largest city and capital of the northern region. Chiang Mai is administratively divided into 22 Amphoes (districts): Muang, Chiang Dao, Chom Thong, Doi Saket, Doi Tao, Fang, Hang Dong, Hot, Mae Ai, Mae Chaem, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng, Omkoi, Phrao, Samoeng, San Kamphaeng, San Pa Tong, San Sai, Saraphi, Wiang Haeng, Chai Prakan and Mae Wang.
Cool Season: (late October to end of February). Average temperature 21 C. and much cooler at night. The coolest months are December and January.
Hot Season: (early March to end of May) Average temperature 29.9 C. The hottest month is April
Rainy Season: (early June to end of October). Average temperature 25.5 C. The wettest month is September.
History : Chiang Mai is an old city with a proud history. It was founded by King Mengrai (Pho Khun Mengrai Maharat, who united several small tribes and called the new land Anachak Lanna Thai). In 1259, after his father's death, he ascended the throne at Yonok Nakhonand built Chiang Rai as his capital in 1262. In 1291, he decided to build a new city as the capital of Lanna Thai. He invited King Ramkhamhaeng (Pho Khun Ramkhamhaeng Maharat of Sukhothai Kingdom) and King Ngam Muang (Pho Khun Ngam Muang of Phayao Kingdom), his very close friends, to help select a site for the new city. They decided on a fertile plain between Doi Suthep Mountain and the bank of the Ping River.
The new city, surrounded by a moat and wall, was completed in 1296. It was named Nopphaburi Si Nakhonping or "Chiang Mai'.
Chiangmai, Doi Suthep
Chiang Mai was the capital of Lanna Thai for a long time. It was attacked frequently and finally came under the control of Ayutthaya, then Burma. In 1774 King Taksin of Thailand recovered it from the Burmese. Since then Chiang Mai has been a province of Thailand.
Culture : Perhaps the most important asset Chiang Mai can claim is its people. Their beauty, hospitality and good manners are legendary throughout Thailand. In the past, Chaing Mai has been a city of economic, religious and political importance. Present-day culture has very deep roots.Chiang Mai has its own dialect and its own cuisine. These have given it a sense of cultural security.
Three Kings, Courtesy www.bangkoksmiling.com
Chiang Mai celebrates many annual festivals. Three are particularly lively and lovely. These are: the "Flower Carnival, the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of every February; "Songkran", 13-15 April each year; and "Yi Peng" on the full moon day of the twelfth lunar month(generally mid-November).
The Flower Carnival celebrates the period when Chiang Mai's temperate and tropical flowers are in full bloom and is characterised by colorful floral floats and parades.It is held every first weekend of February. The north is noted for its rich variety of flowering plants, particularly temperate-zone specimens which are at their best during this cool month. Spectacular floral floats are a memorable feature of this annual event held in Chiang Mai There are displays of flowers, handicraft sales, and beauty contests.
Songkran celebrates the traditional Thai New Year. Chiang Mai celebrates Songkran with special elation in a 3-day carousal of religious merit-making, pilgrimages, beauty parades, dancing and uninhibited, good-natured water throwing. It is held during April 13-15. Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year, is celebrated all over the country but nowhere with more enthusiasm than in Chiang Mai. Part of the celebration is religious, marked by merit-making ceremonies at local temples and part is pure pleasure, with good natured water throwing, parades, and beauty contests.
Yi Peng Loi Krathong is Thailand's loveliest festival. Under the full moon, on lakes, rivers, streams, ponds and klongs, people float banana-leafboats bearing lighted candles, incense, flowers and small coins to honor water spirits and float away the past year's sins. It is held every November. In Chiang Mai, an unusual part of the Loi Krathong celebration is the Yi Peng Loi Festival or the ritual of the lighted balloon. After a day of merit-making, people launch colorful hot air paper balloons into the sky, carrying their troubles away. In the evening, all homes and shops are decorated with beautiful lanterns. Later, traditional Krathongs are also floated on the river and other waterways.
More images of Chiangmai at www.thaitravel.info (opens in new window)