Located some 700km from Bangkok, Chiang Mai is the principal city of northern Thailand and capital of the province of the same name. Popularly known 'The Rose of the North' and with enchanting location on the banks of the Ping river, Chiang Mai and its surroundings are blessed with stunning natural beauty and a unique indigenous cultural identitity.
Chiang Mai was founded in 1296 by King Mengrai as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom. Chiang Mai has had a long and mostly independent history, which has to a large extent preserved a most distinctive culture. This is witnessed both in the daily lives of the people, who maintain their own dialect, customes and cuisine, and in a host of ancient temples, fascinating for their northern Thai architectural style and rich decorative detail.
Chiang Mai also continues its renowned tradition as a handicraft centre, producing items in silk, wood, silver, ceramics and more, which make the city the country's top shopping destination for arts and crafts.
Beyond the city, Chiang Mai province spreads over an area of 20000sq. km. offering some of the most picturesque scenary in the whole Kingdom. The fertile Ping river valley, a patchwork of paddy fields, is surrounded by rolling hills and the province as a whole is one of forest mountains (including Thailand's highest peak, Doi Inthanon), jungles and rivers.
Here is the ideal terrain for adventure travel by trekking, on elephant back, river rafting or four-wheel drive safaris in a natural wonderland. Adding a unique feature to the landscape are the traditional villages of the region's hilltribe people, distinguished by their colourful tribal costumes and lifestyles mostly untouched by the modern world. At the same time, visitors will find deluxe hotels, mountain resorts and other facilities that ensure today's comforts and convenience.
Around Chiang Mai, the neighbouring provinces of Lampang, Lamphun and Mae Hong Son hold great attraction, offering further opportunities to experience the North's natural beauty and distinctive culture.