Info Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai sometimes written as "Chiengmai" or "Chiangmai", is the largest and most culturally significant city in Northern Thailand. It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province and was a former capital of the Kingdom of Lan Na (1296–1768), which became the Kingdom of Chiang Mai, atributary state of Siam from 1774 to 1899 and finally the seat of a merely ceremonial prince until 1939. It is 700 km (435 mi) north of Bangkok and is situated amongst the highest mountains in the country. The city sits astride the Ping River, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya River.
Chiang Mai means "new city" and was so named because it became the new capital of the Lan Na kingdom when it was founded in 1296, succeeding Chiang Rai, the former capital founded in 1262.
Chiang Mai gained prominence in the political sphere in May 2006, when the Chiang Mai Initiativewas concluded between the ASEAN nations and the "+3" countries (China,Japan, and South Korea). Chiang Mai was one of three Thai cities contending for Thailand's bid to host the World Expo 2020 (the others were Chonburi and Ayutthaya). Ayutthaya, however, was the city ultimately chosen by the Thai Parliament to register for the international competition.
Chiang Mai has positioned itself to become a Creative City and is considering applying for Creative City status with UNESCO.
Chiang Mai's historic importance is derived from its close proximity to the Ping River and major trading routes.
While officially the city (thesaban nakhon) of Chiang Mai only covers most parts of the Mueang Chiang Mai district with a population of 160,000, the city's sprawl extends into several neighboring districts. The Chiang Mai Metropolitan Area has a population of nearly one million people, more than half the total of Chiang Mai Province.
The city is subdivided into four wards (khwaeng): Nakhon Ping, Srivijaya, Mengrai, and Kawila. The first three are on the west bank of the Ping River, and Kawila is on the east bank. Nakhon Ping district comprises the north part of the city. Srivijaya, Mengrai, and Kawila consist of the west, south, and east parts, respectively. The city center—within the city walls—is mostly within Srivijaya ward.
|POPULATION :||• City Municipality 148,477|
• Metro 960,906
|TIME ZONE :||ICT (UTC+7)|
|LANGUAGE :||Thai, English (secondary language of the elite), ethnic and regional dialects|
|RELIGION :||Buddhist 94.6%, Muslim 4.6%, Christian 0.7%, other 0.1%|
|AREA :||• City Municipality 40.216 km2 (15.527 sq mi)|
• Metro 2,905 km2 (1,122 sq mi)
|ELEVATION :||310 m (1,020 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||18°47′43″N 98°59′55″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49%|
• Female: 51%
|ETHNIC :||Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11%|
|AREA CODE :||53|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+66 53|
|WEBSITE :||Official website|
According to Thailand's Tourist Authority, in 2013 Chiang Mai had 14.1 million visitors: 4.6 million foreigners and 9.5 million Thais. In 2016, tourist arrivals are expected to grow by approximately 10 percent to 9.1 million, with Chinese tourists increasing by seven percent to 750,000 and international arrivals by 10 percent to 2.6 million. Tourism in Chiang Mai has been growing annually by 15 percent per year since 2011, mostly due to Chinese tourists who account for 30 percent of international arrivals.
Chiang Mai is estimated to have 32,000-40,000 hotel rooms and Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) is Thailand's fourth largest airport, after Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and Don Mueang (DMK) in Bangkok, and Phuket (HKT).
The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) aims to market Chiang Mai as a global MICE city as part of a five-year plan. The TCEB forecasts revenue from MICE to rise by 10 percent to 4.24 billion baht in 2013 and the number of MICE travellers to rise by five percent to 72,424.
The influx of tourists has put a strain on the city's natural resources. Chiang Mai is faced with rampant unplanned development, air and water pollution, waste management problems, and traffic congestion. Local government is seemingly powerless to enforce zoning and construction.
Founded in 1296 CE, Chiang Mai is a culturally and historically interesting city, at one time the capital of the ancient Lanna kingdom. In the rolling foothills of the Himalayas 700 km north of Bangkok, until the 1920s it could only be reached by an arduous river journey or an elephant trek. This isolation helped preserve Chiang Mai's distinctive charm, which remains intact.
Chiang Mai's historical centre is the walled city ("city" is chiang in the northern Thai dialect while mai is "new", hence Chiang Mai translates as "new city"). Sections of the wall dating to their restoration a few decades ago remain at the gates and corners, but of the rest only the moat remains.
Inside Chiang Mai's remaining city walls are more than 30 temples dating back to the founding of the principality, in a combination of Burmese-, Sri Lankan-, and Lanna Thai-styles, decorated with beautiful wood carvings, Naga staircases, leonine and angelic guardians, gilded umbrellas and pagodas laced with gold filigree. The most famous is Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, which overlooks the city from a mountainside 13 km away.
Modern-day Chiang Mai has expanded in all directions, but particularly to the east to the banks of the Ping River (Mae Nam Ping), where Changklan Rd, the famous Night Bazaar, and the bulk of Chiang Mai's hotels and guest houses are located. Loi Kroh Rd (ถนนลอยเคราะห์) is the centre of the city's (tourist) night life.
Locals say you've not experienced Chiang Mai until you've seen the view from Doi Suthep, eaten a bowl of kao soi and purchased an umbrella from Bo Sang. Of course this is touristic blather, but kao soi, Bo Sang umbrellas and Doi Suthep are important cultural icons for the locals.
Chiang Mai's most salient physical feature is the moat and the remains of the wall surrounding the old city. About 6.5 km in circumference, it is the reference point for navigating around the city.
The east and west halves of the old city each have their own character. The east side has the highest concentration of guesthouses, restaurants, motorbike rental shops, travel agencies, and other tourist-oriented services. In particular, the northeast corner is a warren of guesthouses, restaurants, massage parlours, and other businesses catering to visitors. The western half is more Thai, with a school for the blind, a coffin shop, the Chiang Mai branch of Thailand's National Library and five or six mostly table-top barbecue restaurants (หมูกระทะ mǔu grà~tá) almost always packed with Thai customers.
Clockwise from 12 o'clock (north), the main features of the moat and its environs areː
- Chang Phuak Gate (ประตูช้างเผือก) (Centre, N moat). Initially constructed by King Mangrai c.1296. Formerly known as Hua Wiang ("head of the city") Gate as it was considered the most important. King Saen Muang Ma (1365-1401) built an albino elephant (cháang-pʉ̀ʉak ช้างเผือก) monument outside the gate during his reign. The name of the gate then changed gradually to reflect its presence. Traditionally, kings-to-be entered the city through this gate on the way to their coronations. Taking the road north from here takes one to the intra-provincial bus station, also named Chang Phuak, then onward to Mae Rim, Pai, Chiang Rai and the Lao border.
- Si Phum Corner (แจ่งศรีภูมิ) (NE moat corner). Taking the left turn at this point takes one to the superhighway. Straight on leads to a bridge over the Ping River and beyond it, the rail and bus stations. Turning right (south) parallels the eastern boundary of the moat.
- Tha Phae Gate (ประตูท่าแพ) (Centre E moat). Built c.1296. Originally called Chiang Ruak Gate after a nearby village. "Tha Phae" means "raft landing". Originally there was an outer Tha Phae on the river and this gate, the inner Tha Phae. When the raft landing was supplanted by a bridge, this became the Tha Phae Gate. Rebuilt 1985-1986. The vicinity is by far the area most useful to visitors as it contains the greatest number of tourist services. The Night Bazaar lies due east, about a 15 min walk. There always seems be something going on in the plaza adjacent to the gate. Every Sunday a Walking Street Market originates here.
- Katam Corner (แจ่งก็ะตำ) (SE moat corner). A "katam" was a "fishtrap". Water flowing into the city from the Hua Lin corner (NW) of the city collected near this corner in a large pond full of fish. The corner took on the name of the tool used to catch the fish. Turning left here leads to the River Ping.
- Chiang Mai Gate (ประตูเชียงใหม่) (Centre, S moat). Built c.1296 at the founding of the city by King Mangrai. Traditionally the start of the road south to Lamphun. Reconstructed c.1800. Rebuilt 1966-1969. Nearby is the Chiang Mai (fresh) Market, selling foodstuffs. Adjacent are many food stalls, which are popular throughout the day and evening. Across the street to the south is a Walking Street Market every Saturday.
- Saen Pung Gate (ประตูแสนปุง) (SW moat). First mentioned in historical records about 1545. Traditionally used to transport the dead out of the city to crematoria outside the city proper.
- Ku Huang Corner (แจ่งกู่เฮีอง) (SW corner). Refers to a stupa "kuu" containing the ashes of a person named "Huang". Rebuilt c. 1800. Turning left here leads to the Airport Plaza Shopping Centre and the airport.
- Suan Dok Gate (ประตูสวนดอก) (W side of moat). On the sign, misspelled in English as "saun dok". Little in the vicinity of interest to visitors.
- Hua Lin Corner (แจ่งหัวลิน) (Moat NW corner). "Hua" means "head" and "lin" meant "aqueduct". At this corner the small brook, Hûuai Kaeo, was lifted over the city's rampart to provide fresh water to the settlement. Turning left here leads to the Nimmanhaemin District, Chiang Mai University, and onward to Doi Suthep.
King Mengrai founded the city of Chiang Mai ("new city") in 1296. on the site of an older city of the Lawa people called Wiang Nopburi. Gordon Young, in his 1962 book The Hill tribes of Northern Thailand, mentions how a Wa chieftain in Burma told him that the Wa, a people who are closely related to the Lawa, once lived in the Chiang Mai valley in "sizeable cities".
Chiang Mai succeeded Chiang Raias the capital of the Lan Na kingdom. Pha Yu enlarged and fortified the city, and built Wat Phra Singh in honor of his father Kham Fu.The ruler was known as the "chao". The city was surrounded by a moat and adefensive wall since nearby Burma was a constant threat, as were the armies of the Mongol Empire, which only decades earlier had conquered most of Yunnan, China, and in 1292 overran the bordering Thai Lü kingdom of Chiang Hung.
With the decline of the Lan Na Kingdom, the city lost importance and was occupied by the Burmese in 1556. Chiang Mai formally became part of Siam in 1775 by an agreement with Chao Kavila, after the Thai King Taksin helped drive out the Burmese. Because of Burmese counterattacks, Chiang Mai was abandoned between 1776 and 1791. Lampang then served as the capital of what remained of Lan Na. Chiang Mai then slowly grew in cultural, trading, and economic importance to its current status as the unofficial capital of Northern Thailand, second in importance only to Bangkok.
The modern municipality dates to a sanitary district (sukhaphiban) that was created in 1915. It was upgraded to a municipality (thesaban) on 29 March 1935, as published in the Royal Gazette, Book No. 52 section 80. First covering just 17.5 km2 (7 sq mi), the city was enlarged to 40.2 km2(16 sq mi) on 5 April 1983.
Chiang Mai's northern location and moderate elevation results in the city having a more temperate climate than that of the south.
As in the rest of Thailand there are three distinct seasons:
- A cool season from Nov-Feb.
- A hot season from Mar-Jun.
- A wet season from Jul-Oct.
|Daily highs (°C)||30||32||35||36||34||32||32||31||31||31||30||28|
|Nightly lows (°C)||14||15||18||22||23||24||24||23||23||22||19||15|
- DHL, Log 2-6, 1st floor, Montri Hotel, Ratchadamnoen Rd (Just north of the Tha Phae Gate inside moat), . World-wide express shipping. Packaging services.
The government of Thailand censors Internet access. 2010 estimates place the number of blocked websites at 110,000 and growing. Roughly 77% are blocked for reasons of lèse majesté, content (content that defames, insults, threatens, or is unflattering to the king, including national security and some political issues), 22% for pornography, which is illegal in Thailand. Some web pages from BBC One, BBC Two, CNN, Yahoo News, the Post-Intelligencer newspaper (Seattle, USA), The Age newspaper (Melbourne, Australia) dealing with Thai political content are blocked. The Daily Mail(UK) is blocked entirely.
Many guesthouses, hotels, cafes, bars, restaurants, and even swimming pools, offer Wi-Fi connections. These are usually free or available for a small charge. If you are travelling with your laptop you should be able to connect to the Internet within a 500 m radius of your Chiang Mai city-based accommodation at little or no cost.
In November 2012, the Ministry of Information announced the launch of 3,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots in Chiang Mai. The scheme, called ICT Free Wi-Fi for the Public by AIS, offers a download speed of 10 Mbit/s for up to five hours a month. Hotspots can be found near schools, shopping centres, hospitals and government offices. Those interested must sign up for the free service at ICT Free Wi-Fi, after which you will receive a user ID and password.
Internet cafes can be found everywhere within the city. Prices vary from 10 baht/hour (in "gaming" places filled with local children) to 60 baht/half-hour (2 baht/minute) and more. Most places charge per 15 or 30 minute block, others by the minute. The cheapest and most comfortable places with fast connections, webcam, microphone, and Skype, are along Huay Kaew Road near the main entrance to Chiang Mai University, where the cost is 10-20 baht.
- Buddy Internet, 12 Huay Kaew Rd (Northwest corner of the moat, opposite the Central Department Store), . 08:00-24:00.
As elsewhere in Thailand, GPRS/EDGE is a cheap and convenient option to access Internet if you have a laptop and local SIM card. TrueMove 850 MHz 3G covers most parts of the city.
- Directory inquiry service: 183/1133
- International and domestic operator-assisted service: 100
- Overseas dial-out code: 001
- AT&T International operator for collect calls: 001 999 11111
- Mobile phones in Thailand have 10 digits, including the leading zero. Land-line telephones have 11 digits, including the leading zero.
- Airport 24-hr Post Office, 60 Moo 3, Airport Rd, .
- Changklan Post Office, 186-186/1 Changklan Rd, .
- Chang Phuak Post Office, 195/8-9 Chang Phuak Rd, .
- Mae Ping Post Office, 24 Praisanee Rd, .
- Main Post Office, Charoen Muang Rd, . ,
- Phra Sing Post Office (Singharat Rd (3 min walk south of Wat Phra Singh)).
- Talat Kam Tieng Post Office (Assadathon Rd, near Tesco Lotus, just off the super highway). This is the post office where you ship/receive bulky objects like bicycles and motorbikes.
- Tha Phae Post Office (West side of Tha Phae Gate on Ratchadamnoen Rd, 25 paces down the street from Black Canyon Coffee). Daily, 08:00-20:00. This little PO is the most convenient one for most visitors due to its hours and central location. The offer packaging services, faxing, international telephoning, sell postcards, stamps, etc.