- 1 Chiang Dao - gateway to hill tribe trekking, and mountains famous for birdwatching
- 2 Chiang Mai - largest city in the north, urban and sophisticated
- 3 Fang - gateway to hill tribe trekking, close to Chiang Mai
- Mae On - small scale hot springs, caves and rock climbing are the attractions
- Mae Taeng - a town, sub-district and district, with elephant camps, waterfalls and other outdoor activities along the Mae Taeng (Taeng River)
- San Kamphaeng - silk factories and handicraft shops selling traditional Thai items to tourists, like the umbrellas of Bo Sang
- 4 Samoeng – mountain valley home of the February Strawberry Festival
- 5 Thaton - small town with a famous temple and guesthouses on the Kok River, in northern Chiang Mai Province, between Mae Ai and Doi Mae Salong
The city of Chiang Mai lies at 300 m elevation in a vast mountainous area. Approximately 700 km from Bangkok, the province is known for its relatively high mountain ranges (Doi Suthep, Doi Inthanon, Doi Luang Chiang Dao), abundant flora and fauna, and cooler weather at higher elevations. The province is one of the country's largest in area, covering 20,107 square kilometers.
The meaning of "Chiang Mai" is "new city". It was founded as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom in 1296 by King Meng Rai. Chiang Mai not only served as capital of the kingdom, but also as its religious centre; thus, many temples were built there.
North Thailand's predominant culture is Lanna in origin and its people are proud of their northern roots. The region is home to distinctly different food, music, arts, way of life, and even language. Chiang Mai is also overlain by mosaic of hill tribes, each with its own unique culture.
Maintaining their traditional lifestyles, the major hill tribes are: Akha; Karen; Hmong; Lahu; Lisaw; Tai Lue; Tai Yai; and Yao (and others). The more remote villages still live in relative isolation, independent from Thai society, though all are integrated through various government agencies including healthcare and education. All of them, in their villages anyway, still wear their unique dress, speak their own language, and eat their own food.
- Akha have the largest population of any hilltribe in the region. Originally from Tibet and south China, they dwell on high ground around 1,200 m above sea level. In their villages they build "spirit gateways" to protect themselves from evil spirits.
- Karen inhabit river valleys.
- Hmong from southern China prefer higher elevations. They raise livestock and grow rice, corn, tobacco, and cabbage. They are known for their embroidery and silver workings.
- Lahu are from the Yunnese area and live in high elevations. They are known as hunters and planters.
- Lisaw from southern China and Tibet are renowned for their colourful dress. They build their dwellings on high posts. They harvest rice and corn and their men are skilled in hunting.
- Tai Lue live in single-room wooden dwellings usually built on pillars. They are skilled weavers.
- Tai Yai, known as "Shan" in English, are in greater numbers found in neighboring Shan State in Myanmar. They harvest rice, farm, raise cattle and trade. Their forte lies in weaving, pottery, wood carving, and bronze ware.
- Yao reside on mountainsides and grow corn and other crops. They are skilled blacksmiths, silversmiths, and embroiderers.
Chiang Mai Province is well-regarded as a centre of cottage industries. The area is thick with workshops turning out traditional handicrafts made by people using skills handed down over countless generations. Their products include silverware, lacquer ware, celadon pottery, silk and cotton cloth, and hand-painted paper umbrellas.
|Chiang Mai Province|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
The dry, cool season is from Oct-Feb. After that, the hot season takes over into June. Then the rainy season begins. However, it can be cool during the rainy season, and rain during the dry season.
Note that the climate data on the right is Chiang Mai City. Chiang Mai Province can vary quite a bit, and at higher elevations is generally cooler and more wet. Dress warm for night.
- Mae Hong Son Loop which includes destinations in both Chiang Mai Province and Mae Hong Son Province
- Samoeng Loop
- Earth Home (Sustainable living and community tourism), 76 Moo 1, Baan Mae Jo, Baan Pao, Mae Taeng (Mae Taeng lies some 30 km north of Chiang Mai), ☎ . In a valley in the mountains of rural Chiang Mai, it welcomes guests who are interested in learning about, or just enjoying, wholesome, natural living. You can stay in an earthen brick hut, eat fantastic Thai food, admire, or make handicrafts, have a massage, or practice Thai boxing. Moreover, you can participate in earth home building, Thai cooking, and organic farming workshops. The staff at Earth Home can also help arrange homestays with local villagers if you prefer to sample the local way of life. From 150 baht a night (for homestays) to 900 baht a night (at Earth Home including all meals and workshops).
- Chiang Dao – for trekking and caves
- Doi Inthanon National Park – the highest mountain in Thailand