Chiang Mai (‘New City’), the Northern Capital of Thailand (often referred to as the ‘Rose of the North’), was founded by King Mengrai at 4 a.m. on the 14th April 1296.
Sited approximately 700 kms. north of Bangkok on the Ping River in the fertile Chiang Mai valley, it is some 310 metres (1,027 feet) above sea level, which accounts for its slightly drier and cooler climate than most other parts of this country. The population is estimated to be 250,000 persons. The province itself is large, measuring 130 kms from east to west, and 320 kms from north to south. As well as Thai nationals, it is the home of various colourful minorities, many with Thai citizenship, including the Lua, Mon, Karen, Lisu, Akha, Hmong and Muser peoples.
To the west of Chiang Mai is Myanmar (Burma), while the provinces adjacent are Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Lampang and Lamphun.
Like its culture, Chiang Mai’s architecture reflects Lanna Thai, Burmese, Sri Lankan and Mon influences. There are some 300 temples in the city and on its outskirts.
The Golden Age of Lanna-Chiang Mai lies some 500 years back in the time of King Tilokarat, but the city has recently been undergoing a process of regeneration, and while full of the bustle of modern life, it hasn’t lost touch with its glorious past.