Chiang Mai is considered to be the cultural capital of Thailand. Despite being a popular tourist destination, it retains its small-town, intimate flavour with numerous historical temples and attractions within walking distances of each other. Just an half an hour drive away from Chiangmai, the verdant countryside offers endless opportunities for exploring nature and visiting fascinating ethnic hill-tribe villages. There are so many places to visit and this is where the list of five best attractions in Chiangmai may come in handy.
(15km from city centre, on Highway 1004)
Set on the Doi Suthep, the magnificent temple dominates Chiangmai’s landscape and seems to protect it from evil. On a cloudless, clear day, you can see the peak of its golden pagoda from across the Ping River. The spiritual centre embodies the Lanna culture and attracts worshippers and visitors from across the world. To reach there, you can take a songtaew from Chiang Mai University’s Huay Kaew Road entrance.
(Ratchapruek Rd., Hang Dong District)
The night safari takes you to explore three animal zones: Predator Prowl, Jaguar Trail and Savannah Safari. There is much that you can do in this exciting safari such as have your photograph taken with the tiger cubs, hand feed the animals, test your physical coordination skills at the dancing fountain, enjoy a laser light show, and also shop for some great souvenirs. The park is set on 1.2km2 of natural land, about 12km from the city and you can reach it by hiring a songtaew from the city centre.
(Phrapokklao Rd, Old City)
The pagoda, another distinctive feature of the Chiangmai skyline, was built between 1385 and 1402. The vast grounds of the complex house several structures of great cultural significance including the main chapel, which houses the principal Buddha image, the city pillar, and the giant gum tree at the entrance. Beautiful candle light processions are held here during major Buddhist festivals and holidays. The pagoda is a ten minutes’ walk away from Tha Pae Gate.
(about 5km southeast of the Old City, on Chiang Mai–Lamphun Highway)
The ancient city, dating back to the 8th century, was part of the Haripunchai Kingdom and for a brief period, was the capital of the Lanna Kingdom. It is located on the scenic Ping riverbank south of the city centre and houses Wat Chedi Liam, with its Burmese style pavilion and exquisite five tiered chedi set on a square base. To reach there, you can hire a songtaew from the city centre. Mae Sa Elephant Camp (Mae RimSamoeng): The elephants at this camp are no ordinary beasts – they have secured their names in the Guinness World Record. Aside from going about their daily routines, these animals have been trained to play football, paint, dance, and perform a range of talent shows.