Loading slideshow...

Chiang Mai - Thailand

Wat Phra Singh City Pillar, Chiang MaiWat Phra Singh

Chiang Mai, Thailand's bustling second city is a great place to visit.  Located in the north of the country it's a great base for exploring the surrounding mountains, full of stunning vistas, waterfalls and isolated hill tribes.  The city itself offers a good blend of old and new – crumbling Lanna temples alongside the vibrant Night Bazaar and good eating to be had everywhere.

Old Chiang Mai is still surrounded by the square walls and a moat and this helps keep much of the traffic and noise away from the old centre.   The focal point for tourists is the historic Tha Pae Gate on the eastern wall.  This connects the main eating and drinking area with the historic part of town as well as the night bazaar.


The historic Wat Chedi Luang sits at the very centre of the old city.  The crumbling brick chedi with elephant sculptures and naga staircases was built to house the Emerald Buddha before it was toppled by an earthquake hundreds of years ago.  Beside this is a beautiful shrine surrounded by trees containing the city pillar which provides spiritual protection for the city.

Chaing Mai's most famous temple is the vibrant Wat Phra Singh, with a colourful modern prayer hall housing a fifteenth century Lanna Buddha.  Many golden lanterns hang from the ceiling and the roof is intricately carved and decorated.


Chiang Mai is one of the best places in Thailand for shopping with a plethora of locally made handicrafts from the many hill tribes living in the surrounding areas.  The Night Bazaar has shops and stalls selling all manner of goods from silver jewellery to intricate teak carvings.

On both Saturday and Sunday 'walking streets' set up along the main thoroughfares forming pedestrianised shopping streets.  The variety of things on offer here is even bigger than the Night Bazaar with a good mix of traditional and more modern handicrafts, often sold direct by the artisans themselves.


Many visitors stay in the city for longer than planned - Chiang Mai is home to several Traditional Thai Massage schools as well as numerous yoga and cooking schools, all with short term courses running from a day to a month.

Chiang Mai is also the base for other activities including Hill Tribe Trekking and excursions to the surrounding countryside and as such makes a great base for exploring the culture of Thailand's northern provinces.

Nearby Attractions

Back to Thailand Guide