Chiang Mai is the capital of Chiang Mai Provinceand the largest city in northern Thailand covering a total area of 20,107 sq. km. It is 700 kilometer north of Bangkok near the highest mountains in the country. Founded as the new capital of Lan Na in 1296,Chiang Mai means "New City" in Thai. The city's strategic location on the Ping River is due its contiguity to major trading routes contributed to its historic importance. Being an ancient city from the 13th century, Chang Mai still retains its historical remnants. Highly influenced with Buddhist traditions, Chiang Mai is littered with sites of spiritual significance and is surrounded by some of highest mountains in Thailand that are also amongst the many attractions Chiang Mai has on offer.
Though Chiang Mai is a very popular tourist places but culturally and socially it is still predominantly Thai. Buddhism is the major religion and the city consists of many Buddhist Wat’s and religious sites also accompanied by the members of neighboring hill tribes such as the Hmong, Lisu, Akha, Karen, Yao, and Lahu. Thai is the major language here but ‘Lanna’ is also widely spoken by the locals. Use of English is limited to most tourist attractions.
The city is culturally the largest and most significant in Northern Thailand which gives way to various things to do in Chiang Mai and a happening nightlife. For the many Buddhist Wat’s and religious sites, Chiang Mai tourist places get many pilgrims and visitors from around the world every year. Many Thai festivals are celebrated with great enthusiasm, the festivals include the Chiang Mai flower festival held in February and the traditional Thai New Year also known as the Songkran, which is celebrated in mid-April.
The city has plethora of things to see and things to do. The grandeur of the mountains, hill tribe villages, and botanical gardens along with Zoo and Aquarium, a nocturnal zoo, classic Northern Thai temples and architecture which are a Fusion of Lanna, Mon, and Burmese styles attracts millions of tourists to Chiang Mai every year.Chiang Mai is undoubtedly one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Asia. Various cultural performances, intriguing diversity among ethnic tribes, numerous outdoor activitiesand awe-inspiring scenery of mountains, waterfalls, and rivers certainly makes it stand out and attracts tourists from around the world.The north of Chiang Mai borders Myanmar where cross-border trade is allowed, which serves as the tourist sites and also a places for cultural exchanges between two nations.
Chiang Mai has tropical weather conditions with three seasons, the cool season between December and February, summer season between April and June and Monsoon between July and November. As tropical weather the temperatures here ranges from mildly warm to hot.
Chiang Mai has good air connectivity to and from most parts of Thailand and many international destinations. Chiang Mai International Airport servesthe major airlines like Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Air Asia, Nok Air, and Lion Air with over 25 flights operating every day. Bangkok, Krabi, Pattaya, and Phukethave direct flights to Chiang Mai. To reach Chiang Mai from India one can take a connecting flight from Bangkok.
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