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Chiang Mai: Discovering northern Thailand
A city with wonderful historical monuments and exceptional nature. Tropical flowers and fruits, colors, flavors and scents complement the exotic landscape.
Nearly ten hours long flight Athens - Bangkok and the first experience that a traveler from the "land of the free people," Thailand is the tropical heat and spicy scents that followed him throughout his journey, anywhere in this country . Just two hours later, one hour waiting an hour-flight arrive in Chiang Mai. And the adventure in this less known side of Thailand begins.
The Chiang Mai is the largest city in the north of the country. It is built at a height of 300 meters above sea level and is 700 km from Bangkok. Here, the climate is almost temperate, the morning mist magic and evenings pleasantly warm. Today, it is the capital of the homonymous province, covering an area of 20,000 sq. km., With plains, rice fields, wildlife, national parks and many green misty mountains.
THE KINGDOM OF Paddy
The city was the ancient capital of the first independent Thai kingdom of Lanna Thai, «the kingdom of a million rice fields." Founded in 1296 and flourished as a religious, cultural and trading center until 1556, when it was conquered by the Burmese. Since then, its role was limited to that of a slave city, until the Burmese were expelled in 1785 and the entire region of Lanna Thai united again with Thailand.
The Chiang Mai preserved much of its authenticity and for this reason has kept alive the more traditions. It is a city with far less influence than other "famous" tourist destinations in the country. Here, outlandish habits encounter a solid cultural environment. But visitors to the region are more hip and sophisticated.
The typical-with religious influences-city architecture, the unique-very-tasty cuisine with spicy foods, many festivals, handmade works of woodcarving and silversmithing, the ancient traditions, manners and customs, the ubiquitous monks their orange robes, but mostly the atmosphere that exudes the area make it different from other cities.
In Chiang Mai we can easily see the historical past, as depicted in temples and magnificent ruins and old half-ruined or gilded glisten 'stupas'-name of Buddhist pilgrimage, turning to the typical three-wheeled car, the tuk-tuk. Our last stroll through the old city streets, the temples and around the dark red brick walls that were erected about 1,200 years ago, but also outside it.
MAJOR ATTRACTIONS IN CHIANG MAI
- The Wat PhraThat, located on the hilltop Doi Satep is the most famous temple in Chiang Mai. Located about 15 kilometers west of the city. To reach the top of the hill, you need to climb 290 steps, otherwise you have to use the elevator. The golden pagoda Doi Satep contains the relics of the Buddha. From up there you have wonderful views of the valley of Chiang Mai, full of dramatic shimmering landscapes, interspersed with small lakes, rivers and some colorful touches of exotic flowers. The natural beauty of the area, with its green mountains, protected national parks, vast paddy fields and labyrinthine waterways, are inexhaustible.
- The Wat Chiang Man is the oldest temple in Chiang Mai. It was the residence of King Mengrai, founder of the city, has a pagoda that support elephants and a small ancient effigy of the Buddha, the Phra Kaeo Khao.
- Wat Ku Tao. The feature of this church is the unusual pagoda, in the shape of the bulb and is decorated with pieces of colorful porcelain. The sculpture is thought to reflect five Buddhist monks seeking alms.
- The Wat Chedi Luang is part of an enormous pagoda, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1545 and had a height of about 85 meters some time in this temple was the Emerald Buddha, now kept in the temple Phra Kaeo, in Bangkok.
- The Wat Chet Yot dates from 1458 and was built after a visit Thais architects in the holy city Bodhagaya, in northern India.
- Wat Phra Sing. This charming church was built in 1345 and is the center of celebration Songkran (13 - 15 April) where people bathe the guest of honor of the Buddha. The temple includes a chapel Lai Kham, with carved representations, frescoes and majestic manuscripts with magnificent paintings.
- The Wat Suan Dok was built in the 14th century during the monarchy of Lanna Thai, with amazing gardens, and is the favorite spot of photographers who immortalized the sunset. Some of the white pagodas are urns members of the royal family. The bronze figure of Buddha has a history of 500 years and is considered one of the largest in Thailand.
- The Wat U-Mong is very different from all the temples of Chiang Mai and is an ideal place for meditation.
- To National Museum Chiang Mai has a large collection of artifacts of the era of Lanna Thai, ancient statues of Buddha and war weapons.
IN OUTDOOR MARKETS IN CHIANG MAI
The city is a paradise for shopping, culminating in a night market. O shopping street located outside the walls, in the new city with high-rise buildings, alive with hundreds of vendors. A huge, colorful bazaar in every night on the main street. It is the night bazaar, which runs until late at night and makes the city look festive, flooded with lights and the world go by pushing each other between the benches with the goods. Here you can browse through or buy high quality silver jewelry, handicrafts, colorful umbrellas and fans hand-painted silk and cotton clothes, woodwork items and small furniture unparalleled technique, a wide variety of antiques and many, many copies of clothes, watches, accessories and clothing known brands.
And attention! In any flea market should be practicing with absolute consistency art of the bazaar. Street Nimanchamein, lounge around shops selling silk or cotton fabrics, handmade pottery and other interesting handicrafts in traditional or contemporary designs. Many students of the school of fine arts have made haunt the streets around and sell their works. Here surely find many interesting and affordable souvenirs.
But the food stalls of the city is full of colors and strong odors of hundreds of species of spices, rice fish, squid and shrimp. Cool varieties of herbs are spread out on the benches, and poultry, rabbits, pigs and some species of edible snakes are divided into the reed cages, waiting for prospective buyers. Dozens of vendors selling local food and sweets, filled the air with strange smells. Succumb to the challenge to try some of the treats and do not forget to buy dried herbs and spices for future culinary experimentation.
DO NOT MISS IN CHIANG MAI
The ride elephants
Exciting experience is the elephant ride on routes that reach the waterfalls of the jungle or remote mountain villages with tribes. The cameras and the cameras are on fire, as the caravan of elephants begins. Sitting in pairs on the saddles of these giants with slow-moving pace will feel strange and majestic especially excited. And you will pass by orchards and plantations planted with delicious tropical fruits such as mango, pineapple taste, rampoutan, ntourian, small but delicious bananas, papaya, Pomelo, lychee, and orchids in a memorable feast of colors. This is, after all, the national flower - a trademark of the country.
A relaxing massage
The concentrated browser brings fatigue. And fatigue wants ... massage. Especially if you're in Thailand. In this mighty country, after all, the massage is the most favorable way of relaxation of the inhabitants of the whole country, but now, and visitors. The normal duration is two hours, but as time is precious, one hour long. The good hotels and some selected centers offer traditional massage and spa programs in areas of high standards and aesthetics. And as you relax, aromas of fresh cut flowers from the bowl full of water diffuse into the atmosphere, smell and caress add another exotic touch to the whole environment.
An excursion around
Usually not included in the program, but if you have courage, worth a day trip to the highlights of the region. Here are three options, each of which is of particular interest.
1 / In Chiang Rai is the royal "winter" palace Doi Tung, relatively recent sample of Thai architecture.
2/Sta west of Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son is a small mountain town, quite isolated, but with notable temples virmanezikou style. It is the main center of the region and has many small travel agencies for tours elephants, white-water rafting and visits to other remote villages.
3 / The Sukhothai is a monument of the first independent Thai kingdom. It has been designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage by UNESKO and under its protection. The main feature of the surviving ruins, dating from the late 13th century, is the huge stone Buddhas. This is the farthest day trip.
The acquaintance with the tribes of the mountains
The tribes of the mountains of the region are ethnological, not just interesting. The population consists of "exotic" breeds, living at an altitude of over 1,500. Meo, Lisu, Yao, Aka and Karen are some of the most typical refugee nomad tribes, originating mainly from neighboring Burma. Short and underweight for the most part, they live in small, elevated bamboo huts. Most women-regardless of age-, so-called "women-tigers" or "women-giraffes", apart from the special costumes and heavy striking bronze wreaths around their necks. Figures photographed, followed from an early age this tradition and, as the years pass, they add new bronze wreaths around their necks, which thereby lengthens disproportionately. In other races open holes in their ears. Over the years replace the earrings-rings with more and bigger and finally see to have acquired their ears huge "holes". Living in typical village on the slopes of mountains. Around the gravel roads poor houses are simple wooden structures on stilts.
Ultimately, the trip to Chiang Mai is rich in unique images and original experiences. And it is certain that you will leave excited by a charming place, with people polite and smiley.
Celebrations and Festivals
Each November, the night of the full moon, make small boats of banana leaves or coconut shells, adorn them with flowers and lit candles, put up coins and throw them in rivers and lakes of the city, to propitiate the spirits of the water. It's romantic celebration «loi krathong», ie the "festival of candles." The area of Sukhothai is one of the most favorite places for this celebration.
Every April celebrate «Songkran», the traditional Thai New Year, mainly with religious events and parades in the streets, with traditional dances and many dips among locals or visitors who will be there.
Also organizes the "feast of flowers" in a country in which, anyway, love the colorful flowers, generously giving them the nature, "festival crafts" and "feast Umbrella" which honored the best Among the numerous handmade, hand-painted paper umbrellas.
HOW GO TO CHIANG MAI
After the withdrawal of Thai Airways from Greece, Athens was not connected anymore directly with Bangkok. At last you can now get with most companies traveling east through an intermediate station. In this search we found better prices with Qatar Airways via Doha (www1.qatarairways.com), the Singapore Airlines via Singapore (www.singaporeair.com) and Turkish Airlines via Istanbul (www.turkishairlines.com).
From Bangkok to get to Chiang Mai domestic flight in one hour, unless you prefer to continue by bus or train. Specifically, the bus trip takes eight hours from Bangkok, and we should note that there are air-conditioned buses start from the central bus station, street Kamphaeng Phet 2. And the train trip, which you will get from the main station in Bangkok Hualampong, are usually nocturnal.
EXCURSIONS IN CHIANG MAI
Generally, the Chiang Mai is the hub center to visit the north of Thailand and arrive using cars 4x4, elephants, horses or boats in the remotest villages of the country. If you contact a specialized travel agencies will organize the trip and stay. Individual trippers visiting the mountain tribes, before embarking on their journey, they can get more specific information from the Tourist Police. Also, there is the Office of Thailand Tourism, T / +66 (0) 53 248-604, +66 (0) 53 248-607, email@example.com
ACCOMMODATION OF CHIANG MAI
The Chiang Mai has a very good tourist infrastructure, as some units are the best luxury hotel chains in the world. Is generally from five-star hotels and bungalows in the jungle until spotless and very affordable rooms. Below is a series of the best hotels in the city:
Shangri-La Hotel (89/8 Chang Klan Road, Muang, Chiang Mai, T / +66 (0) 53 253 888 www.shangri-la.com). Luxury city hotel with comfortable and elegant rooms, suites and excellent spa facilities. From 73.31 pounds per double for October.
Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi Hotel (51/4 Chiang Mai - Sankampaeng Road Moo 1 T. Tasala A. Muang, T / +66 (0) 53 888 888, www.mandarinoriental.com/chiangmai/). Magnificent traditional building that accommodates 54 colonial-style suites and 64 private villas in a lovely green and well kept garden. Swimming pools, pool bar, coctail bar and restaurants serving Thai, Chinese, French and Mediterranean cuisine complement the setting. From 382 euros suite.
The Chedi Chiang Mai Hotel (123 Charoenprathet Road T. Changklan A. Maung, T / +66 (0) 53 253 333, http://www.ghmluxuryhotels.com/ChediChiangMai.htm). New and very stylish hotel in the heart of the city, with minimal aesthetic in 84 rooms and suites. From 111 euros for October this deluxe double room with breakfast.
Four Seasons Resort (Mae Rim-Samoeng Old Road, Mae Rim, T / +66 (0) 53 298 181, www.fourseasons.com / chiangmai). Stylish hotel-like all around the world units of the chain-amidst lush paddy fields and a few minutes from the city. From 477 euro per night and offer three nights each gift.
Rachamankha Hotel (6 Rachamankha 9, Phra Singh, T / +66 (0) 53 904 111-3, www.rachamankha.com). Boutique hotel in the city center, a member of the luxury hotel chain Relais and Châteaux. Pool, spa and a fully equipped library for business travellers between benefits. From 110 euros for a double (mean you will achieve, however, is 215 euros).
The Puka Boutique (17/4 Moo 6, Mae Puka, Sangampang, T / +66 (0) 53 965 499, www.pukaboutiqueresort.com). Traditional hotel within 13 km from the city center, which features a two-storey villa is fully equipped and 6 suites. From 107 euros for two people - look however and promotions.
Veranda Chiang Mai The High Resort (192 Moo 2, Banpong Hangdong, T / +66 (0) 53 365 007, www.verandaresortandspa.com/chiangmai/). Elegant traditional hotel outside the historic city, with pool, spa and a stylish restaurant overlooking the rice fields in the surrounding area. 71 euros for a double by the end of October.
FOOD IN CHIANG MAI
The restaurants in the city can meet many of the "hot" and not just your culinary desires. Besides, Thai cuisine is recognized as one of the most popular cuisines in the world.
• The Gallery Restaurant (25-27-29 Charoen Raj Rd., T / +66 (0) 53 248 601, www.thegallery-restaurant.com). Located next to the river with excellent environment and food, but nice shops near him.
• The House Restaurant (199 Moon Muang Road, Sriphum, T / +66 (0) 53 419 011-13). Is one of the city's best restaurants with Asian fusion dishes and ... appropriate values.
• Antique House (Charoenprathet Rd., T / +66 (0) 53 260 239, www.antiquehouserestaurant.com). Good Thai food in a beautiful and ... romantic garden.
• The Riverside (9-11 Charoenrat Road., T / +66 (0) 53 243 239, +66 (0) 53 246 323, www.theriversidechiangmai.com). Traditional dishes by the river with spectacular views.
• The Good View (13 Charoen Raj Rd., Watgate, Muang, T / +66 (0) 53 302 764, +66 (0) 53 241 866, www.goodview.co.th). Stylish bar - restaurant with interesting Thai and European food, beautiful decor and tasteful souvenir shop that operates in the same space.
• La Brasserie (37 Charoenrat Road, Wat Ket, T / +66 (0) 53 241 665). Fresh seafood, meat, many species curry and salad relaxed environment.
* In http://www.1stopchiangmai.com/hospitality/restaurants you can find a number of the best selections in the city's restaurants.
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