Chiang Mai means “new city” in Thai, and it has kept that name even though it turned 700 years old in 1996. On Thursday, April 12, 1296, King Meng Rai the Great made the city the capital of the Lanna Kingdom. This was around the same time that the Sukhothai Kingdom was founded. King Meng Rai talked with his friends, King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Phayao, before deciding where the Lanna Kingdom’s capital would be built. Chiang Mai became not only the capital and cultural center of the Lanna Kingdom, but also the center of Buddhism in northern Thailand. King Meng Rai was a very religious leader, and he even built many of the important temples in the city.
Chiang Mai is one of the few places in Thailand where you can see both old and new Thai culture side by side. There are pagodas and temples that are hundreds of years old right next to convenience stores and boutique hotels. This difference can be seen best in the old city, which is surrounded by a moat and still has a lot of the fortified wall that once protected the city center and the four main gates that led to the former Lanna capital city. Strangely, tourists thought for a long time that Chiang Mai was just a place to stay while they went trekking or rafting to hill tribe villages or to other provinces. Tourists are surprised, though, to find that Chiang Mai has a lot more to offer than just its beautiful and historic temples. Chiang Mai is one of the most popular tourist spots in Asia because of the interesting variety of ethnic tribes, the number of elephant camps, the number of cooking and massage schools, the number of outdoor activities, the number of handicrafts workshops, the number of cultural performances, and the beautiful scenery. Once upon a time, it was often said that “a day in Chiang Mai is enough to see everything” Today, two weeks in Chiang Mai might not be enough time to see everything the city has to offer.
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The old city of Chiang Mai is a great place to see the fascinating indigenous culture of the north. This culture includes different dialects, delicious food, unique architecture, traditional values, lively festivals, many handicrafts shops, massages done in the northern style, and classical dances. Chiang Mai is also surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, and rivers that are in great shape. Chiang Mai’s uniqueness is enhanced by the fact that it is home to many hill tribes with many different cultures. One of the best things to do in Chiang Mai has always been hill tribe trekking, which is often combined with river rafting and elephant riding. There are now a lot of things to do and see in the city and the province around it, like learning how to give massages or play golf. Visitors can also go to workshops where they can learn how silk or silver are made and buy hand-made souvenirs to remember their trip. Chiang Mai is the best place to spend a vacation in Thailand because it has so many different things to do and see, as well as a wide range of restaurants and places to stay.