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Chiang Mai Must See and Do

The Chiang Mai must see and do list is one of the most divergent with many different types of places to go, things to see, and stuff to do.  The less crowded city of Chiang Mai offers a more personalized experience.

  • Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden – We stopped here for a couple of hours and enjoyed the tour of this beautiful garden.  There is a dress code here, so dress respectfully avoiding short pants, sleeveless shirts, etc.  If you are not dressed appropriately, there are clothes available to rent at the entrance.  I also recommend you spend the extra money and rent an tour guide with an electric cart.  This way, you will see it all and get a narration of the significance of what you are seeing.  You will see beautiful water falls, water fountains, lovely flower gardens, and traditional Thai architecture.   Click here for the website –> Botanical Garden
  • Chiang Mai Zoo – The Zoo is located just north of the Chiang Mai University.  It is a privately owned and operated Zoo that is open to the public.  Overall, 400 animal species are represented in the zoo including three giant Pandas, penguins (18 species) and elephants. One of the giant pandas was born in Chiang Mai Zoo on May 29, 2009 and given the name Lin Bing. It is one of the few pandas born in captivity outside of China.  The Zoo covers about 200 acres and includes two large aquariums, one of which as a tunnel 133 meters long.  Click here for the website –> Chiang Mai Zoo
  • Wat Phra Thart Doi Suthep – This Temple is set among the peaks of Doi Suthep. It has a lovely setting with a panoramic view of Chiang Mai and the Mae Ping River valley. Although Wat Doi Suthep is the most recently built of the temples dating from the Lanna Thai period, it is the symbol of Chiang Mai. The site was selected by sending an elephant to roam at will up the mountainside. When it reached this spot, it trumpeted, circled three times, and kneeled down and thus interpreted as a sign indicating and auspicious site.  To get to the top of the Temple, you can climb the 309 steps, or pay 50 baht to ride the tram (Thai nationals ride free).  Like all temples in Thailand, there is a dress code here so be sure to dress appropriately.  Read about the White Elephant legend on their website.  Click here for the website –> Temple
  • Royal Flora Ratchaphruek – The Royal Flora Ratchaphruek was a flower festival held 1 November 2006, to 31 January 2007, in the Thai city of Chiang Mai that drew 3,781,624 visitors. It was one of the grand celebrations being hosted by the Royal Thai Government in honor of King Bhumibol, the world’s longest reigning monarch.  Although the festival is over, the garden exists today and it a beautiful place to visit.  You can buy a ticket to ride a tram around the garden, which you can get off and walk around, then re-board the next tram coming by.  Not only are the gardens beautiful and groomed very well, there are exceptional Thai architecture to see and photograph here.  The Ratchaphruek is the national flower of Thailand. It is also named “Khun” or “Chaiyaphruek”. The reason that the Ratchaphruek is used to symbolize the nation lies in color: its yellow blossoms match the yellow of Buddhism; furthermore, the Thai people regard yellow as the color of the King as well. Moreover, all golden shower trees bloom at the same time; this unity in flowering is felt to reflect the unity and identity of Thais.  The event was located in 80 hectares of land at the Royal Agricultural Research Center in Mae Hia sub-district, Mueang district, Chiang Mai Province in northernThailand. The 92 days of the expo featured 30 international gardens reflecting nations such as Japan, South Korea, Belgium, Netherlands, South Africa, and Canada; more than 2.5 million trees of 2,200 species of tropical plants and flowers are presented to the world in this exhibition. The AIPH, the Association of International Horticultural Producers, gave this expo A1 status, its highest level; such an exhibition occurs only once a year throughout the world. In addition, a host country can only hold one such exhibition once a decade.  Click here for the website –> Ratchaphruek
  • Mountain Hill Tribes – Most of the villages of the Hill Tribes are only approachable via 4-wheel drive, or on a elephant trek.  There are many companies offering various types of tours to these villages.  Over 100 years ago, the Hilltribe peoples migrated south from China into what are now Burma, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. The six major tribes are the Karen (Kariang, Yang), the Hmong (Meo), the Yao (Mien), the Akha (Ekaw), the Lisu (Lisaw), and the Lahu (Mussur). The main profession of all these tribes is farming, and all of them tend to migrate whenever they feel that the soil at their present location is becoming depleted.  Each tribe is district, with its own culture, religion, language, art, and dress. With Thailand undergoing rapid modern development, it is difficult yet to say whether these tribes will continue in there traditional ways of life, or whether they will eventually be absorbed into the surrounding, and ever more-encroaching, Thai society.
  • Elephant Treks – If you are a person that enjoys the outdoors, and you are looking for an unique adventure, then you should take one of the multi-day tours that include a combination of hiking, elephant riding, and water rafting.  There are many websites offering tours, however, I recommend you wait until you arrive in Chiang Mai and do your research there.  You’ll find more options at much lower prices dealing with the companies in person.
  • SongKran Festival – April 13th annually – This festival is worth planning your travel around.  Chiang Mai has one of the best Songkran festivals in Thailand.  Songkran is the celebration of the Thai New Year based on the Thai calendar.  I was here in 2008 for this festival on April 13th & 14th, then we went to Pattaya for their celebration on the 19th.  Which was a lot of fun.  April is one of the hottest months in Thailand, so the festival is a major water event.  No body can walk the streets during these days without getting wet.  You’ll see water trucks roaming the street spraying people, everyone is armed with some sort of a water device, whether it is a water gun, bucket of water, or water hose.  Come to this festival prepared to have a blast, and be soaking wet the entire time.

Enjoy this Chiang Mai must see and do list, take time to fully experience Chiang Mai and all that the city and province has to offer.

 

 

 

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