Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
The original founding of the temple remains a legend and there are a few varied versions. The temple is said to have been founded in 1383 when the first chedi was built. Over time the temple has expanded, and been made to look more extravagant with many more holy shrines added. A road to the temple was first built in 1935.
White elephant shrine According to legend, a monk named Sumanathera from Sukhothai had a dream; in this dream god told him to go to Pang Cha and look for a relic. Sumanathera ventured to Pang Cha and is said to have found a bone, which many claim was Buddha’s shoulder bone. The relic displayed magical powers; it glowed, it was able to vanish, it could move itself and replicate itself.
Sumanathera took the relic to King Dharmmaraja who ruled the Sukhothai.
The eager Dharmmaraja made offerings and hosted a ceremony when Sumanathera arrived. However the relic displayed no abnormal characteristics, and the king, doubtful of the relic’s authenticity, told Sumanathera to keep it.
However, King Nu Naone of the Lanna Kingdom heard of the relic and offered the monk to take it to him instead. In 1368 with Dharmmaraja’s permission, Sumanathera took the relic to what is now Lamphun, in northern Thailand. The relic apparently split in two, one piece was the same size, the other was smaller than the original. The smaller piece of the relic was enshrined at a temple in Suandok.
The other piece was placed by the King on the back of a white elephant which was released in the jungle. The elephant is said to have climbed up Doi Suthep, at the time called Doi Aoy Chang (Sugar Elephant Mountain), trumpeted three times before dying at the site.
It was interpreted as a sign and King Nu Naone ordered the construction of a temple at the site.
Introduction to Bhubing Palace The Bhubing Palace is located on Doi Buak Ha, Muang District, Chiang Mai Province. It is the royal winter residence in Chiang Mai where the Royal family stays during seasonal visits to the peoplein the northern part of Thailand.
The palace is also the royal guesthouse for prominent state visitors from abroad. In the past Their Majesties welcomed or granted royal audience to State visitors only in the capital of Bangkok. Bhubing Palace was built in 1961. The construction started initially with only the royal resident building and the guesthouse. The other buildings were additionally built on later dates.
Bhubing Rajanives Phra Tamnak Bhubing Rajanives was built in northern Thai architectural style called“Ruen Mu” (Group of Houses).
The building sits on stilts. The upper floor is the royal residential area while the ground floor houses the royal entourage. The building master plan was design by Prince Samaichalerm Kridagara while Mom Rachawongse Mitrarun Kasemsri designed the building.
The construction of the Palace was undertaken by the Crown Property Bureau, under the supervision of Prince Samaichalerm Kridagara, assisted by Mom Mom Rachawongse Mitrarun Kasemsri and Mr. Pradit Yuwapukka. General Luang Kampanath Saenyakorn, the Privy Councilor was assigned to lay foundation stone on August 24, 1961 at 10.49 am. The Construction took 5 months to complete. The first royal visitors to stay at the palace were King Federick the Ninth and Queen Ingrid of Denmark on their royal visit to Thailand in January 1962
Hill Tribe Village
Over 100 years ago, the mountain were once the preserve of aboriginals and were avoided by the lowland farmers.
With the arrival of logging interest and the so-called “Hill Tribes” people penetrated into the high hills in a process that has resulted in dirt roads now reaching most of the remote places in the Kingdom. The six major tribes in Thailand are the Karen (Kariang, Yang),the Hmong (Meo), the Yao (Mien), the Akha (Ekaw), the Lisu (Lisaw), and the Lahu (Mussur).
All of them tend to migrate whenever they feel that the soil at their present location is becoming depleted. Each tribe is district, with its own culture, religion, language, art, and dress. The national Committee of Hill tribes was formed in 1959 to integrate the Hill Tribes people into Thai society.
Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Inthanon is almost 300 meters higher than any other mountain in Thailand. Formed by a granite batholith that intruded into the southern extension of the Shan Hills dividing the watersheds of the Salween and Mekong, its 2565 meter-high peak is part of the
Den Lao (or Loi La) mountain range. To the north, this range includes Doi Luang Chiang Dao (2175 m) and Doi Pui (1685 m), the mountain that overlooks the city of Chiang Mai.
Known as the “roof of Thailand,” Doi Inthanon National Park divides the Mae Ping and Mae Chaem watersheds and is one of 14 parks originally created in 1954. Its area, which was increased to its present size of 482.40 square kilometers in 1975, covers several climactic and ecological zones from its lowest elevations of around 800 meters to Doi Inthanon’s summit. The lower elevations in the eastern part of the park are mostly limestone formations and there are a number of caves. Several waterfalls, including the notable Vachirathan Falls, can be seen tumbling over granite scarps in different parts of the park. With a variety of ecological habitats, the park has recorded 362 bird species, the second highest in Thailand’s national parks.
Handicraft Village (Sankampaeng )
Chiang Mai is the center for Thailand’s handicraft industry, and all of the traditional crafts can be found along the old road (Highway 1006) leading east from the city toward Sankampaeng District. The latter was a major kiln site known for the production of Celadon in previous centuries. Today, the manufacture of Celadon wares is just one craft practiced along this route.
Umbrella making: Bo Sang, which is famous as the “umbrella village,” remains the center for manufacture of umbrellas handmade out of bamboo. The umbrellas are covered with a locally made “Sa” paper that is lacquered and painted with colorful designs. Silverware: The silver industry began in the Wualai Road area of Chiang Mai centuries ago, but several manufacturers moved and set up along the Sankampaeng Road, where they produce traditional items such as trays, bowls and boxes as well as contemporary artifacts.
Hill-tribe Crafts: Several shops along the Sankampaeng Road specialize in hill-tribe art, which consists of silver adornments, bamboo and wooden artifacts and beautiful hand-woven and embroidered cloths made according to the unique designs of each tribe.
Located in tropical monsoon forest next to the tumbling waters of the Mae Sa River, the “Maesa Elephant Camp” is less than a 30 minutes by road from downtown Chiang Mai. Having been open for nearly 30 years, the Maesa Elephant Camp has become a leader in elephant breeding, training and health care and is recognized for its role in finding employment for elephants in sustainable tourism.
First you will see a demonstration of how elephants once worked in the former logging industry before you watch the more highly trained animals demonstrating their artistic talents by painting for you. After the show, you can go on a one-hour elephant ride through the lush green forest along the river.
Returning to the camp, you will sit aboard an ox cart and continue your journey. Then, after a short drive, you will embark on a bamboo raft to drift for one hour downstream through a dreamy landscape.
City & Temple
Chao Mangrai established Chiang Mai (meaning “new capital”) as the new base for the ruling chao (kings) of Lan Na, the kingdom of a “million rice fields,” in 1296. He built a moat and defensive wall to protect his new city, and his dynastic successors made Chiang Mai preeminent in the region in the 14th and 15th centuries. However, Lan Na was caught between the increasingly powerful maritime kingdoms of the Siamese Thai and the Burmese and went into decline. Falling under Burmese dominion after 1558, the city was subject to the vicissitudes of the wars between the Siamese Thai and Burmese, which culminated in the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767. Chao Kavila of Lampang sided with resurgent Siamese Thai forces and helped the future King Taksin drive the Burmese from Chiang Mai in 1775. Unable to hold the city, however, Kavila abandoned it in 1776, ruling the remnants of Lan Na from Lampang before reinvesting Chiang Mai as his capital in 1796. Allied with the Siamese Thai in their new capital of Krung Thep (Bangkok), Kavila developed Chiang Mi as the cultural and economic capital of a vassal kingdom until it was fully incorporated into the Thai state under King Chulalongkorn at the beginning of the 20th century. Located at the end of the northern railway, Chiang Mai continued to develop as the main center of northern culture and commerce, however. The city’s inhabitants speak Kham Muang (also known as Northern Thai), a language with an old alphabet that is now only understood by scholars. The standard Thai alphabet is used to write Northern Thai, but everyone can use central Thai since it is the language of education. English is used in hotels and travel-related businesses and is spoken by many educated Thai people.
Ban Tawai is the center for woodcarving and is a major cultural attraction for Thai and foreign tourists visiting Chiang Mai. It is where the best quality woodcarvings and bargains are to be found. Aside from the wide variety of decorative woodcarvings, antique wooden artifacts and wood products including furniture that are available, silverware, hand-woven textiles, basketry and earthenware are also found in Ban Tawai’s Handicraft Center and Song Fang Khlong Center.
Ban Tawai’s origins as a center for wood-carving originated between 1957 and 1962, when three villagers—Pho Naan Daeng Puntusa, Pho Jaima Inkaew and Pho Huen Puntusart—left the village to study and practice wood carving at Nomsilp, a manufacturer on Wualai Road near Chiang Mai Gate. They took their skills back to Ban Tawai, where they passed them on, setting the course for the village to become the prime woodcarving center in Thailand.
Chiang Mai Zoo
The Zoological Park Organization of Thailand established Chiang Mai Zoo in 1974, opening it as the first commercial zoo in Northern Thailand on June 16, 1977.
Located next to Huai Kaew Road just west of Chiang Mai University, the zoo takes up 531 rai at the foot of Doi Suthep, an area rich in verdant forest and a diversity of wild plants and flowers. The zoo displays a wide variety of exotic and rare animal species in spacious enclosures built into a hilly terrain of gullies, streams and waterfalls. Walkways, zoo buses and a monorail make getting around easy.
The Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden in Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai Province, was opened in 1992 and is maintained by the Thai Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment.
The facility’s purpose is to conduct and promote botanical research and to conserve Thailand’s natural plant resources and biodiversity. Originally named the Mae Sa Botanic Garden, it was renamed after Queen Sirikit of Thailand in 1994. Visitors can enter each zone in the garden by driving (or taking a garden bus) on a circular route through the garden.
Krisdadoi Chiang Mai Resort
Located at 700 meters above sea level, Krisdadoi was one of the first resorts to be established in the cooler upland valleys flanking Doi Suthep and the main valley of the River Ping. Widely recognized for its chalet-style buildings surrounded by ornamental flowerbeds, the resort became a popular local attraction.
A stream tumbles over a cliff overlooking the garden and joins the Tha Chang River, a tributary of the Ping that leisurely flows through the landscaped gardens where temperate and sub-tropical flowering and decorative plants thrive.
Chiang Dao Cave
Tham Chiang Dao is a large cave at the foot of Thailand’s most spectacular mountain. Called Doi Luang Chiang Dao, the mountain is located 75 kilometers north of Chiang Mai. The caves are reached by taking a sealed lane west from the center of Chiang Dao district town to Wat Tham Chiang Dao. The cave entrance is in the temple grounds next to a fishpond stocked with carp. Guides with lanterns await visitors at the start of the covered walkway up to the cave’s main entrance. It is essential to take one of these guides (fee charged) to enter the labyrinthine cave system, which begins with a large chamber where numerous Buddha images are perched in crevices and penetrates deep beneath the mountain. To enter the cave without a guide is to risk joining those who, according to legend, have became beguiled by heavenly temptations and never returned to daylight!
Mae Sa Water Fall
The Mae Sa Falls are easily reached by taking the highway (1096) seven kilometers west from Mae Rim to Samoeng. They can be reached in less than 30 minutes by car or by chartered songtaew or tuk tuk from the center of Chiang Mai.
Located in Doi Suthep National Park, the Mae Sa Falls are a series of nine vertical drops or cascades spaced 100 to 500 metes apart. Of the nine falls, the shapes of four and eight are the most photogenic. Finding each series of falls is easy as each level is signposted. The falls are not high, and Thais like to swim in the pools at each level.
The Khantoke dinner is a traditional northern Thai dinner for entertaining guests. The meal, which consists of various spicy dips and curries, fried meats and steamed vegetables—the choice of what is offered depending on the tastes of the host—is served on a low round table set on a floor, or on raised platform where mats are placed for the guests to sit upon. The food is shared, and attentive hosts will make sure dishes are refilled as necessary so that there is plenty for all. During the meal, dancers entertain guests with traditional performances. Dances performed during the dinner, such as the fon thian (candle dance) and fon laep (fingernail dance) tend to have slow rhythms and graceful movements. Sword dances and fighting dances may also be performed. Staged in wooden houses or spacious natural gardens, the Khantoke dinner is an unforgettable experience.
White Water rafting
White water rafting using inflatable rubber vessels first began in Thailand in the early 1990s on the River Pai in Mae Hong Son Province, but since then it has been taken up on many other rivers in the country.
In Chiang Mai, the Mae Taeng River, which is reached by road 50 kilometers north of Chiang Mai, is one of the best for rafting. To go rafting it is necessary to reach Ban Sop Kai, which is ten kilometers up the steep-sided valley of the Mae Taeng from Ban Keut. The latter may be reached from Highways 107 north to Chiang Dao or 1095 west to Pai. The run on the Mae Taeng River is in three sections: the first is between Ban Sop Kai and Pang Kao, a distance of 5 kilometers with six series of rapids with a grade 2-3 level of difficulty.
This easier stretch is useful for familiarization with the team and the boat. The second two-kilometer section is the toughest,with eight grade 4-5 rapids challenging strength and teamwork. The final two-kilometer stretch consists of six series of grade 3-4 rapids, the best part of which is a 500-meter stretch containing three rapids that never fails to impress visitors.
The best time to go rafting is during and after the rainy season ( July-October), when fast flowing water provides for high levels of splash and excitement.
Flight Of The Gibbon
The Flight of the Gibbon is a two-kilometer zipwire ride that gives visitors the opportunity to glide through the canopy and “whoopee.” Located among old forest growth around 900 meters in elevation in the hills to the east of Chiang Mai City, the site is reached by a pretty drive up through a scenic valley to the tea-growing village of Mae Kampong.
After a brief safety introduction, “fliers” quickly find themselves rushing through a leafy landscape, soaring above ravines to platforms at seemingly impossible heights among the tall giants of the forest.
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