Chiang Mai in the North

Thursday, September 28, 2017
Chiang Mai was the capital of the former Kingdom of Lanna. Situated among some of Thailand's highest mountains, this city has some great views to offer.

Chiang Mai seen from Wat Phra Doi Suthep, Thailand
Being the largest city in northern Thailand does not mean that Chiang Mai is hectic. Unlike Bangkok, Chiang Mai has a calmness about it. A chill atmosphere, which draws many tourists and backpackers to the area.

Chiang Mai has an awful lot of temples from the old kingdom days. Most of which are located in Old Town; a square space in the city downtown. We chose to get along with technology and hire a Segway tour around old town. First stop; Wat Chiang Man.

Wat Chiang Man in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Wat Chiang Man is one of the many Buddhist temples inside the old city. There's an elephant chedi next to the main temple. The carved stone elephants are very well-preserved and by far one of my favourite spots in Chiang Mai's Old Town.

Golden Elephant at Phra Singh Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Besides elephants made of stone, our second stop; Phra Singh Temple, also had some elephants to show off. These were mount at the foot of a chedi. All golden and supposedly there to protect.

Wax figures at Phra Singh Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand
The Prah Singh Temple is quite something. As you enter the main prayer hall you'll stop for a second as monks are starring righ back at you. It takes some time to realize they are made of wax. A few other tourists even asked us, if they were real or not.

Segway tour at Three King's Monument in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Anusawaru Sam Kasat or more commonly known as the Three King's Monument is roughly marking the centrepoint of the Old Town of Chiang Mai. Made in bronze the monument shows the three kings who made an alliance and ended up building Chiang Mai.

Nong Buak Hard Public Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand
A Segway tour around the walled city in Chiang Mai, is not complete without a drive through Nong Buak Hard Public Park. Curvy paths, small bridges, flock of pigeons and a smaller square, makes this park ideal for improving your Segway skills.

Tha Phae Gate in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Tha Phae Gate is the east entrance to the old city district. The wall was built to protect the city from a Burmese invasion. The city had eight gates, all pointing in specific directions according to the eight compass points. Today Tha Phae Gate is a tourist attraction and used by locals for events like the Flower Festival in February.

Wat Mahawan Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand
From Tha Phae Gate it's possible to walk to several temples located outside the old city wall. One of them being Wat Mahawan. The thing about temples here is, you have to look for the details. Amazing work was put into each and everyone. They seem the same, but they all have their own flaws.

Wat Buppharam Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand
On the same street make a stop at Wat Buppharam temple. Special because it was built both during Burmese rule and during the Lanna kingdom rule. Different building styles were used and therefore you'll spot a mix of architectural ideas.

Dragon wall at Wat Upakhut Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand
"A dragon wall" outside Wat Upakhut catches the eye as you stroll down the sidewalk (of the very same street as Wat Mahawan and Wat Buppharam). The creative ideas behind the architecture in Chiang Mai is the main source of the charm to the city.

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, Thailand
After a long day of temple hopping, find a cozy restaurant. There are plenty for choices, inspired by food cultures from all over the world. Once you've regained energy it's time to hit Chiang Mai's Night Bazaar. Every single day of the week, around sunset, the street shops will start popping up in the main downtown area. Famous for art, you'll find plenty of local craftsmen, painters and other creative artists selling their products.

"Grand Canyon" in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Next morning it's time to grab some wheels. Renting a scooter in Chiang Mai will only cost you 200 THB (and that's for 24 hours rental). A full tank is about 100 THB.

Drive around 19 km to the southwest. To Grand Canyon. Well, almost. Named the Grand Canyon of Thailand, but also known as Nang Dong Canyon. There are several paid entrances to this place. I'd recommond the one which is just 50 THB per person. The canyon is full of adventure activities like cliff jumping, zip-lines, paddle-boarding, wall-climbing and much more. There's a few restaurants and small snack shops. One of the other canyon places offers a water-obstacle-course. Entrance there is 350 THB. Just a warning, this is NOT the Grand Canyon. It's a fun place to spend some hours, but don't expect enormous cliffs and hours of hiking. Except a water park. In a canyon.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand
If, for some odd reason, you choose to visit only one temple in Chiang Mai. Choose Wat Phra Doi Suthep. The temple itself it located on a hill, in a national park to the west of the city. We drove our scooter there, which took us about 45 minutes. The road there are steep, with several waterfalls and viewpoints along the way. The temple itself is magnificent (and only a mere 30 THB for entrance), but the view over Chiang Mai is what most travellers come here for.

Chiang Mai is also famous for their elephant camps; offering elephant bathing, riding and even shows where the poor creatures plays football or paints. Please, just watch the elephants in stone or gold and leave the live ones unharmed.

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