Chiang Mai is the gateway to Northern Thailand. With a population of over 170,000, it is Thailand’s fifth-largest city. Located on a plain at an elevation of 316m, surrounded by mountains and lush countryside, it is much greener and quieter than the capital, and has a cosmopolitan air and a significant ex-pat population, factors that have led many from Bangkok to settle permanently in this “Rose of the North.”
Chiang Mai’s historical center is the walled city. Sections of the wall remain at the gates and corners, but of the rest only the moat remains. Inside Chiang Mai’s remaining city walls are more than 30 temples dating back to the founding of the principality, in a combination of Burmese, Sri Lankan and Lanna Thai styles, decorated with beautiful wood-carvings.
Modern-day Chiang Mai has expanded in all directions, but particularly to the east towards the Ping River (Mae Nam Ping), where Thanon Chang Klan, the famous Night Bazaar and the bulk of Chiang Mai’s hotels and guesthouses are located.