Although the second largest city in Thailand, Chiang Mai is not as bustling and crowded as Bangkok. Nevertheless, it has become a major attraction for travelers as well as humanitarians. If you visit Chiang Mai for the first time, you would certainly want to return to the city or wish you could settle there for a while. Those who visit the city are captivated with its beauty and ambiance, whether it is traveling from one temple to another, or experiencing street foods, or participating in a trekking adventure.
When visiting the city, you must stop by the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the mountaintop temple, whose central shrine consists of a seated Buddha. To reach the temple you can trek up the mountain, hop into a cab called songthaew, or rent a motorbike. The ornate temple has different depictions of the Lord Buddha, elephant carvings, and detailed dragon statues. You can then visit the ruins of another temple, the Wat Chedi Luang. Built in 1401, the earthquake-hit temple still has well-preserved ruins, where you can view the beautiful decorations of massive elephant carvings.
During your trip, you are most likely to spend much time at the centre of Old City. Here, at Rachadamnoen Road, you will come across the most significant wat in Chiang Mai, the Wat Phra Singh. The temple’s sacred shrine is home to the Sukhothai-style Phra Singh Buddha. Explore Wat Suan Dok, a temple located towards the west of Old City. The temple boasts of several unique features including the large prayer hall, called “wiharn”. Close to the wiharn, lie the “chedi” or the large pagodas.
If you are in the mood to enjoy the flora and fauna of Thailand, then head to Doi Suthep-Pui National Park that is spread across 262.5 sq km. It consists of mountainous terrains as well as biologically diverse forests that are home to various types of birds, such as the black drongo, white-crested laughingthrush, common emerald dove, and many more. You can spend an entire day in the Elephant Nature Park, where you can bathe them or feed them. The elephants that have suffered previously as labor or show animals are rescued and brought to the Nature Park.
Stroll through the market at Chiang Mai Gate, where you can savor the finest street foods in the city. Chiang Mai Gate Market is renowned for selling pad kra pow (a dish containing basil and spicy meat), sticky rice with a topping of coconut milk and fresh mango, and many more.
Therefore, Chiang Mai is an awe-inspiring city that has so much to offer.