Chiang Mai Province
Asia : Southeast Asia : Thailand : Northern Thailand : Chiang Mai Province
Chiang Mai Province is a region in Northern Thailand.
Chiang Mai is situated at 300 meters above sea level in a large mountainous area. Located approximately 700 km from Bangkok, Chiang Mai Province is famed for its gloriously high mountain ranges, plentiful flora and fauna and crisp fresh weather. The province in Thailand is one of the country’s largest, covering 20,107 square kilometers.
The actual meaning of Chiang Mai itself is “new city” and it was founded as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom in 1296 by King Meng Rai. Chiang Mai not only acts as the capital of the kingdom, the province was established as the religious center of the north and so innumerable temples have been built.
In the north of Thailand the culture is Lanna in origin and the people are very 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 a melting pot of hill tribes and their own unique cultures.
Maintaining their traditional lifestyles, the six major hill tribes--Akha, Hmong/Miao, Karen, Lahu, Lisu, Mien/Yao--live in relative isolation independent of Thai society. All of them, in their villages anyway, still wear their unique dress, speak their own dialects, and eat their own food.
Chiang Mai province is renowned as one of the world's top centres of cottage industry. The area is a haven for traditional handicrafts made by craftsmen using skills which have come down through countless generations. They include: silverware, lacquer ware, celadon pottery, silk and cotton, hand-painted paper umbrellas and more.
The best time of the year to see Chiang Mai is from November to April when the weather is super-fresh and crispy and all the province's renowned flowers are out in full bloom. In fact, in the mountainous areas temperatures can dip down to freezing point. It doesn’t snow, but sleet is known to fall at times. One of the best times to visit Chiang Mai during this period is at Songkran (Thai New Year) as the town is synonymous with Songkran tradition, color and fun. During the hot season, March to May, temperatures especially in the city are high, going up to the high 30s. The rainy season in the north is from June to October and trekking is not advised due to the chances of storms, wind, and rain. From May to October there is a lot of rain, but since the climate is tropical, the rain falls in quick, heavy, but short, downpours.