Chiangmai Places to see
Chiangmai was originally a square walled city with a moat protecting the town. Each of the 4 walls is around one mile long and now the inner road of the wall takes traffic anticlockwise while the road outside the moat and the wall takes traffic clockwise. The Northern wall holds one of the most important gates the Chang Puak (Albino Elephant) Gate, the Eastern Wall is home to the Thapae Gate – probably the busiest section of the moat, many concerts and events are held around the Thapae Gate. The Southern Wall has 2 gates, the Chiangmai Gate towards the Eastern corner and the Suan Proong Gate towards the Western corner, midway along the Western wall there is the Suandork Gate. Within the confines of the city walls there are many temples and it is worth taking a guided tour of the inner city.
Doi Suthep (Suthep Mountain) houses one of the most important Buddhist temples in Thailand, amazingly perched two thirds of the way up one of Thailand’s tallest peaks a visit is a must. Can be done by Songtaew (pick up truck taxi) or with a guide in our minibus. There are stunning panoramic views of the town and the countryside when you walk around the perimeter of this magnificent temple.
Mai Rim and Chang Dao
One of the most popular excursions is to the Chang Dao Elephant Camp. Chang Dao is well known (it’s been on the BBC wildlife programme) very humane and sympathetic this is a great way to see the Elephant at work and at play. Our excursion includes a one hour ride through the jungle (for most trips quoted locally the elephant ride is an extra 500 baht) lunch and a raft trip. On the full day trip we also visit an orchid farm and other places of interest. Chang Dao is near Mae Rim to the north of Chiangmai.
Sankhampaeng and Hang Dong
These are the two places famous for their handicrafts. Sankhampaeng is the main tourist route and prices can be a bit high, most Tuk Tuk drivers and Taxi Drivers will try to take you there as they get paid to even just pull in to a factory and park. It is still worth a look but bargain hard if you see something you really like. The Umbrella Village at Borsang is good value as are the vast selection of hand made papers available in the Sa Paper Village. Sankhampaeng is to the East of Chiangmai. Ban Tawai is the craft and woodcarving village situated on the outskirts of Hang Dong to the South of Chiangmai. There are no commissions for the touts so there are real bargains to be had amongst the huge selection of hand made products. Trips out to either or both areas are easily organised, please ask and it will be done.
Wieng Kum Kam
King Mengrai’s buried city is only 5 km south from Chiangmai. Still in the early stages of excavation its set to be one of the provinces major attractions. Beginning this year it is possible to take Elephant rides around the ruins and archeological sites from a pick up point at Wat Kan Thom in the centre of the medieval city. The tour meanders through the green lanes and excavated temples in the western half of the “Wieng” (fortified city) before returning to the first complete temple built by Lanna’s uniting King. Still a lot to be done before the site is finished, but a trip worth considering if you have seen most of the other attractions in Chiangmai.