Introduction

Chiang Mai is a city built on the roots of a traditional heritage that dig deep into the soil of time. It's a city with a beautiful cultural personality of its own. In addition, it's been blessed with much majestic beauty in nature. The people themselves are an unforgettable part of Chiang Mai. Handicrafts of silk, silver and wood are timeless souvenirs for visitors from all over the globe. Along with all this, a wide variety of accommodations, restaurants, and entertainment all help to make Chiang Mai one of Thailand's prime tourist attractions.

Location :

Chiang Mai, 761 kms. by rail, approximately 700 kms. by road north of Bangkok, with an area of 20,107.1 sq.ms., is Thailand's second largest city and capital of the northern region.

ChiangMai is administratively divided into 22 Amphurs (districts) :..

Muang Chiang Dao Chom Thong Omkoi San Pa Tong
Doi Saket Doi Tao Fang San Kamphaeng Wiang Haeng
Hang Dong Hod Mae Ai. Saraphi Samoeng
Mae Chaem Mae Rim Mae Taeng Phrao San Sai
Chai Prakan Mae Wang      

Situated between north latitude 17-21 and east longitude 98-99, the province of Chiang Mai is found in the upper area of Thailand's northern region. Chiang Mai valley is 310 meters (1,027 feet) above sea level. The widest point of the province measures 136 kms. (85 miles), and the longest 320 kms. (200 miles). To the north, a 277 kms. (141.82 miles) stretch of mountains divides Chiang Mai's northern districts of Fang and Mae Ai from Myanmar's (Burma's) Chiang Tung (Shan) State. In certain areas, the Kok River also acts as a border between Chiang Mai and Myanmar. On the east, Chiang Mai is bordered by the Chiang Rai, Lampang, and Lamphun provinces. The Mae Tuen River, Ream Mountain, and Luang Mountain separate Chiang Mai's South from the province of Tak. Some portions of Chiang Mai's South also border the Lamphun province. Tothe west, Chiang Mai is bordered by Mae Hong Son province.

Topography

A large part (69.31 %) of Chiang Mai's land is covered by mountains and forests. These generally run in a north-south pattern through the province and give birth to several streams and tributaries (such as the Mae Jam, Mae Ngud, and Mae Klang) which in turn feed important rivers and irrigation canals (such as the Muang and Faay) which provide the water necessary to Chiang Mai's agriculture. Chiang Mai's largest and most important river is the Ping, which originates in the mountains of Chiang Dao and flows southward for 540 kilometers (337.5 miles). It is along the banks of this river that Chiang Mai's flat, fertile valley area lies.
Chiang Mai is also home to Inthanon Mountain, which stands 2,575 meters (8,448 feet) above sea level and is Thailand's highest mountain.

Climate

Cool Season : (late October to end of February). average temperature 21 C and much cooler at night. The coldest months are December and January.
Hot Season : (early March to end of May) Average temperature 29.9 C. The hottest month is April.
Rainy Season : (early June to end of October). Average temperature 25.5 C. The wettest month is September.

Population

With a population of 1,547,085 Chiang Mai is one of Thailand's largest provinces. Of the above number, 170,348 are currently living in Chiang Mai's city area with the rest distributed throughout Chiang Mai's 21 districts, 2 sub-districts. 80% of the people in Chiang Mai are locals by birth, and speak a dialect that is a slight variation of the central Thai language. The remaining 20% is made up of Thai nationals and foreigners who have moved to Chiang Mai to work, study, or retire.

There are many hilltribe people living in the mountainous districts surrounding Chiang Mai such as Omkoi, Mae Jam,
Chiang Dao, and Mae Ai. Statistics reported by the Tribal Research Institute of Chiang Mai stated that in the year 1992 there were 1,049 hilltribe villages in the Chiang Mai province, constituting a total of 174,195 people. Of this amount, 106,116 were from the Karen tribe, 27,392 from the Lahu (Musur) tribe, 17,198 from the Hmong (Meo) tribe, 10,873 form the Lisu tribe, 8,862 from the Lua tribe, 2,609 from the Akha tribe, 1,145 from the Mien (yao) tribe, and 485 from the Palong tribe. The hilltribe people are agricultural; planting fields, raising animals, and hunting for a living. Since each tribe has its own culture and language, they blanket the hills of Chiang Mai with an interesting patchwork quilt of diverse variety.

The majority (80%) of the Chiang Mai people earn a living through agriculture and agricultural related professions. The second largest vocation is tourism and its directly and indirectly related jobs. General commerce and industry--mainly in the form of handicrafts, and of processing agricultural products--are the two other major professions in which the Chiang Mai people are involved.

History

Chiang Mai's rich history goes back hundreds of years. Because of its prime location and fertile land, the valley that extends from the base of Suthep Mountain to the Ping River was settled in early times by several different ethnic groups, including the hilltribe group known as the Lua tribe. Later, King Mengrai unified the different towns and villages into what came to be known as the Lanna Thai Kingdom. In 1296, he fortified the fertile valley area with a rectangular shaped brick wall measuring 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) wide, and 2.0 kilometers (1.25 miles) long. Parts of the wall are still intact today, and the area within it is often called the "old city". King Mengrai went on to expand his kingdom to both sides of the Ping River and beyond, naming it "Nop Buri Sri Nakorn Ping Chiang Mai". This city became the center of the Lanna Thai Kingdom that later expanded and covered much of Northern Thailand. After that there was sporadic warfare for several generations, and Chiang Mai fell several times to both the Burmese and to a powerful kingdom to the south that was centered around the Choa Phaya Basin. In the end, Chiang Mai was taken by Krung Thon Buri, the capital of Thailand during that time, and under the fifth Rama, became a part of Thailand. Since the time of the Lanna Thai Kingdom, Chiang Mai has been a city for a total of 701 years.

Festivals & Events

January
Bo Sang Umbrella Fair & San Kamphaeng Handicrafts Festival
Bo Sang Village, Chiang Mai
Almost everyone in the small village of Bo Sang, near Chiang Mai derives a livelihood from making gaily painted paper umbrellas. This fair, held on the main street celebrates their traditional skill and features contests, exhibitions, stalls selling umbrellas and other handicrafts, and procession decorated by umbrellas and cycling ladies with umbrellas.

Tawai Village Wood Carving Fair
Tawai Village, Chiang Mai
This fair features demonstration, contests and sales of wood carvings and local handicrafts. Products can be made within the fair. And includes local folk performances and a procession highlight on the entire range of popular northern Thai wood crafts. Hosted by the Tawai village, Hang Dong district.

February
Flower Carniva
Buak Hat Park, Chaing Mai
A festival centered around flowers. Features a parade with beautiful flower floats, a beauty contest, flower displays. and judging, gardening techniques, and flowers for sale. Takes place throughout the main city streets and at Buak Hard Park.

Makha Buccha Day
Nationwide
An important Buddhist holiday honoring the event when 1,250 of Buddha's disciples congregated without previous agreement. Buddha gave an important sermon at this event. Buddhists carry flowers, lighted candles, and joss sticks while walking around a Chedi at the temple three times under the full moon.

April
Chaing Mai Songkran And Lannathai Festival
Tha Pae Gate and citywide, Chiang Mai
Traditionally the Thai New Year, this festival is celebrated by making merit, constructing sand chedis, and pouring lustral water over respected elders and Buddha images. As the years went by, it became a part of tradition to splash water on one and all. It is a city-wide festival, and one of the most popular in Chiang Mai, so expect to have a good time and get wet! 

Chaing Mai Great Arts And Culture Festival
Tha Dton Payom Market on Suthep Road, Chiang Mai
The Chiang Mai Great Arts and Culture Festival will be held from April 2 - 6. The objectives are to promote the image of Chiang Mai as an important center of art and culture, and to stimulate the preservation of local arts and the cultural heritage for future generations.
The Chiang Mai Great Arts and Culture Festival gathers at one time and at the same location a variety of important activities relating to Thai culture. The activities include. April 2-6. A festival of outdoor music will be held at Three Kings Monument. Open to the public.
April 3-6. A fair to promote Lanna arts and culture at the open space opposite the Dton Payom Market on Suthep Road. There will be demonstrations of the various activities of the original lifestyle of the Lanna people. Stalls will sell various items significant to the local culture highlighting. Northern cuisine. Daily useful implements will be on exhibit.

May
Visakha Bucha
Nationwide
A Buddhist holiday, in commemoration of the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. Chiang Mai Buddhists walk up to Suthep Temple at night to make merit. 

 

 

June
Intakin Festival
Held at the Chedi Luang Temple, it lasts a week and is used to ask for peace and for rain to fall during the right seasons. The temple holds the city pillar which traditionally marks the center of a town. 

July
Asalha Puja
Nationwide
Commenorates the first time that Buddha, his teachings, and his disciples were present. According to Buddhism, all three are needed for wholeness. On this day, Buddhists make merit at temples and sermons are preached. 

 

August
H.M. The Queen's Birthday Celebrations
August 12, Nationwide

September
Salakpatt
Sept - Oct.
A festival special to North, it involves making merit by taking necessities to temples without designating which monk is to receive them. This festival varies slightly from place to place.

October
Auk Pansa
Nationwide
The end of the three month period when monks are not permitted to traval. An important merit making ceremony is held at Chiang Mai University, where monks from several different temples are asked to receive contributions of rice and dry food.

November
Loy Krathong or Yi Peng
An important Thai festival, it is a way of paying respect to the goddess of the river for the water that was provided, and to repent for dirtying the river under the full moon, creating a beautiful sight. In addition, there are float contests, boat races, and a beauty contest. Lanterns similar to balloons are also lighted and sent drifting up into the sky.

December
H.M. The King's Birthday Celebrations
Nationwide

Chiang Mai Food Festival
The Pae Gate, Chiang Mai
A dishes, the n annual festival of Chiang Mai's great demonstrations on fruit carving and ancient Thai desserts, and beauty Lanna culture shows. Good food selling at a cheap price.

Chiang Mai Winter Fair
Annual festival held at the Chiang Mai Government Center. Featuring a variety of products for sale, especially handicrafts show a beauty contest and games. Comes alive at night.

Information provided by Tourism Authority of Thailand

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