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Visitors to Chiang Mai will soon understand why Thais refer to it affectionately as “The Rose of the North”. It is one of the few destinations in Thailand where travellers can see ancient and modern culture living side by side. This diversity is most striking in the architecture, where you can find ancient ruins adjacent to pristine modern structures.
You’ll also find the city bubbling with creative arts, from surreal street performances to innovative installations.
So book a flight to Chiang Mai with Qatar Airways and discover a city where past, present and future intertwine in laid-back harmony.
If you’re travelling to Chiang Mai with children, then the city’s zoo is an ideal first stop. Nestled in lush forestland at the foot of Doi Suthep Mountain, it is home to a dazzling array of wildlife, including pandas, lions and bears. However, if you want to get up close and personal with one of Thailand’s best-loved natives, then take a trip to the Elephant Nature Park, where you’ll encounter rescued and orphaned elephants in breathtaking surroundings.
For history buffs, a visit to the Chiang Mai National Museum is highly recommended. Housed in a beautifully ornate building are artefacts and exhibits dating back as far as the ancient Lanna civilisation. To delve deeper into the region’s past, the Tribal Museum chronicles the lives of Thailand’s hill tribes.
For more architectural splendour, stop by the Baan Haw Mosque, one of the largest in the province. Whitewashed walls and a beautiful, blue dome make it easy to spot from afar, and it welcomes thousands of visitors each year.
One of the best ways to enjoy your travel to Chiang Mai is immersing yourself in the city’s natural scenery. The Mae Sa Waterfalls are a tranquil network with their own natural swimming areas. You’ll find rickety, rustic bridges and several different climbing routes, ranging from easy to difficult. This is one of the city’s hidden gems, frequented only by those in the know, who come to enjoy a picnic or cool off in the peaceful pools.
Visiting the Bhubing Palace is another great way to appreciate the city’s history and to see Thai architecture at its very best. Set in stunning, sub-tropical gardens, there’s plenty to enjoy. Entry to the palace requires traditional dress for both men and women, but these can be hired on site. Bhubing Palace is also close to Hmong Village, where you can see how local farmers lead their daily lives.
Chiang Mai has plenty of eating experiences dotted around the city limits, serving everything from fast food and international cuisine to fine-dining experiences. But while the restaurants offer much to make the mouth water, the only way to enjoy a true taste of Thailand is to sample the street food.
Chiang Mai’s streets are alive with the sounds and smells of cooking, from elaborate stalls to a single chef with a wok. Spicy noodle soups are very popular, featuring a variety of meats, such as duck (pet), chicken (kai) and seafood (talay). But vegetarians will also find plenty on offer, as much of the Thai diet relies on fresh vegetables. Many dishes are even served in fragrant banana leaves. Look out for tam khanun – a salad made from jackfruit, shrimp and spices – and the world-famous green curry.
Chiang Mai boasts virtually every kind of retail experience you could wish for, from high-end malls and designer stores to bustling markets. However, as with the food, if you want to seek out unique and hand-crafted goods then the best place to go is the street. Street markets are a way of life and your trip to Chiang Mai wouldn’t be complete without experiencing this buzzing, animated and aromatic way of shopping.
Each market has its own distinct character – intricate wood carvings at Baan Tawai Market; the Sa-paper goods and ornate umbrellas of Bo Sang; and the local crafts on offer at Sankampang.
Essential facts about Chiang Mai
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip