Located in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai attracts more than five million visitors a year. This city has a population of around one million, which is roughly that of San Diego, California. Chiang Mai is also a major destination for cultural tourism and nature-lovers.
Chiang Mai, which literally means ‘new city,’ was once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom. In 1296, the city was built complete with a moat and a defensive wall which served as protection from Burmese invaders. Throughout its history, the Lanna Kingdom struggled to maintain self-government. In the late 1700s, the Lanna Kingdom was annexed by the Kingdom of Siam (modern day Thailand). Today, the remains of the ancient city walls can still be seen.
Chiang Mai has a rich cultural history that is celebrated with plenty of enthusiasm during festivals year-round. Local artists are known for their intricate bamboo work, woodcarving, and ceramics. Their techniques and traditions are a mixture of Burmese, Chinese, and Muslim influences; cultures that migrated to Chiang Mai between the 16th and 19th centuries.
Forests make up over 70% of the land in the province; making it the perfect place for hundreds of elephant camps. Chiang Mai is also home to Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s tallest mountain at 8,415 feet. Hikers, campers, and those looking for an elephant experience often find Chiang Mai perfect for an eco-adeventure.
Text by Gabrielle Pasternak. Image: Old city walls that remain in Chiang Mai.