Chiang Mai Province
Cities and Towns
The City of Chiang Mai lies at 300 m elevation in a vast mountainous area. Approximately 700 km from Bangkok, Chiang Mai and its province is known for its relatively high mountain ranges (Doi Suthep, Doi Inthanon, Doi Luang Chiang Dao, etc.), abundant flora and fauna, and cooler weather at higher elevation. 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 innumerable 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: 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.
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.
The dry, cool season is from October through February. At that point 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.