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Attractions in Chiang Mai



Chiang Mai temples

There are many temples in the city that display various styles of influence over the seven centuries of the city. Three striking temples, Wat Bupparam and Wat Mahawan and Wat Chetawan are all found on the central Thapae road. Others that are particularly worth getting to are Wat Lookmooli outside the Northwest corner of the moat, with its impressive chedi, and Wat Chaimongkhon which fronts the river and has a garrish Chinese style to it. Boat trips up the river also take off from here. Several more ancient temples are found in the Southwest corner of the old town. Right beside the National Museum beyond the super highway is Wat Jed Yod, which was built for the Eight Buddhist World Council in 1477. The remains of seven chedis are vaguely modelled on the Mahabodhi temple in Bodgaya, India. While you are visiting the city’s most famous landmark, Wat Chedi Luang, you might also find it convenient to admire the nearby Wat Phan Tao which is classic Lanna in style and entirely constructed of wood (including the nails).

Wat Prathat Doi Suithep – temple
This is one of Thailand’s most famous temples, overlooking the city from its spectacular mountain location. The winding road up to the temple passes a couple of nice waterfalls and the view from the temple platform is impressive. The site, dates from 1386 and is reverred among Thais as one of the country’s most important temples. With its distinctive gilded chedi and marble–floored courtyard the temple is full of symbolism and usually busy. If the 300 steps leading up to the temple are too much for you, a funicular offers a quick shortcut. On the way up to the temple its worth looking at Huay Kaew and Monthathal falls,
Open: daily, 06.00 to 18.00, tel: 053 295003
Admission: free for Thai, Foreigner 30 baht. funicular: 20 baht per person.

Wat Suan Dok
This temple was established to the west of the old town as a Buddhist university that survives to this day and is noted for its collection of stark chedis under which several former rulers of Lanna have their ashed interred. There is a ‘monk chat’ here every evening from 17.00 where novice monks practice their English by answering questions on Buddhism.
Open: daily, 06.00 to 17.00
Admission: free

Wat U Mong
This forest retreat was built in 1296 by King Mengrai and is located in a rustic forest setting near Suthep road. It was renovated during the reign of King Keu Na, but is unlike the usual gaudy temples of Thailand, being a retreat comprising mostly of forested grounds. It features a unique tunnel–like construction beneath an ancient chedi. There is a lake full of overfed fish and a deer sanctuary behind the temple on the mountain slopes.
Open: daily, 08.00 to 17.00
Admission: free

Wat Doi Kham
Rarely visited by the throngs of tourists coming to the city, this temple behind the Royal Flora grounds predates the city itself and is unremarkable except for a giant seated buddha that was constructed more recently.
Open: daily, 08.00 to 17.00
Admission: free

Wat Chedi Luang
This is perhaps Chiang Mai’s most striking relic and was once the most important in the Lanna capital. Dating from 1441, the 91m high pagoda was felled to half that height in an earthquake in the late 16th Century. To this day the partially renovated chedi remains the tallest structure in the old town and the main attraction.
Open: daily, 06.00 to 17.00
Admission: free

Wiang Kum Kam
The original Chiang Mai city was unearthed in 1984 and is situated just outside the modern metropolitan area, to the Southwest. It was built by King Mengrai as his first attempt to establish a settlement in the valley before chronic flooding of the Ping river forced its abandonment. Almost 20 temples have been uncovered in the area and a ride by horse–drawn carriage, or on a bicycle will let you take most of them in within half a day. Some have been well excavated and offer a fascinating ‘Atlantis of Chiang Mai’. There is also the striking Chedi Liam in the area, attached to a working temple.
Open: daily, 08.00 to 17.00; tel. 053 140322
Admission: free

Chiang Mai National Museum
Located on the Chiang Mai-Lampang Super Highway near Wat Chet Yot, the museum has been designated by the Fine Arts Department as a regional center for education and preservation of the art and culture of Chiang Mai and upper northern Thailand the Lanna Kingdom. Their Majesties the King and Queen graciously presided over the opening of the museum on 6 February 1973. The museum was built according to traditional northern architecture, with a Lanna Thai rooftop.

Chiang Mai Zoo and Night Safari
is spread out over a huge area at the foot of Doi Suithep. Since it’s hilly, hop on the trams. Most of the animals enjoy quite large natural habitats here, with inhabitants ranging from bears to penguins. The latest additions are two Chinese pandas which are hugely popular. The arrival of a baby in 2009 and addition of a world class aquarium have added to its enormous popularity with locals. There is also a brand new ‘snow dome’ which is a novelty for the locals.
Open: daily, 08.00 to 17.00; tel. 05322 1179
Admission: Thai 50 baht (adult), child 10 baht / Foreigner 100 baht (adult), 50 baht (child), pandas extra.
Chiang Mai Night Safari was established as evening and night tourist attraction. It is the first night safari in Thailand. Chiang Mai Night Safari is committed to be a world class destination and is constantly upgrading to international tourism standard. Exhibition zone is divided in three main areas: Savanna Safari, Predator Prowl and Jaguar Trail. Chiang Mai Night Safari is located in the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park area of Mae Hea and Nong-Kwaii district in Hang-Dong and Suthep district in Muang, Chiang Mai province. The total area in 131 hectares. It takes only 10 km. driving from the town central to Chiang Mai Night safari.

Night Bazaar
Night Bazaar is arguably Chiang Mai’s biggest attraction in its self, leading the modern legacy of the Yuannese trading caravans that would stop here along the ancient trade route between China and Myanmar. Historic attractions are a bit thin on the ground around here.

Loy Krathong
By far the most romantic of Thailand’s celebrations, Loy Krathong takes place on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month. However, with the full moon falling on a Wednesday the 12th this year, many celebrations will commence on November 8th so the fun can run through the weekend.

Chiang Mai Aquarium
Surprisingly, landlocked Chiang Mai now boasts the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia, opened in November 2008. It’s located inside the Zoo and has an 8,000 cubic litre tank that apparently includes the world’s longest aquarium tunnel (133m). More than 8,000 aquatic species, including 250 fresh water varieties are found here.
Open: daily, 08.00 to 21.00; tel. 05322 1179
Admission: 450 baht (adult), 350 baht (child), Thais 250/180 baht.

Elephant Monument
In Chang Phuak Road near the city's north (White Elephant) gate, a plain monument erected by King Saen Muang at the end of the 13th c. commemorates two loyal comrades in arms who saved his life when the elephant carrying him into battle during the war with Ayutthaya was killed. The two were afterwards ennobled. The White Elephant Gate takes its name from the monument.
Near the monument, a radio mast stands sentinel over the ruins of a collapsed 15th c. chedi, originally in the Lan Na style. Note the fragments of reliefs surviving on the central part.

The old walled city is no longer the heart of Chiang Mai today, the new town center being situated just to the east, closer to the Menam Ping. Four of the five original city gates - Tha Phae (east), Suan Dok ("Flower Garden", west), Chang Phuak ("White Elephant", north) and San Poong (south-west) - have been rebuilt from designs based on old models.

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