Chiang Mai :
The province of Chiang Mai, located 700 kilometres north of Bangkok and served by both air and rail services from the capital,
epitomizes the charm and attractions that typify northern Thailand.
Here you will discover a landscape of high forest hills and idyllic river valleys, while the cities,
towns and villages of the region display a distinct culture arising from a long separate history. At the same time,
the city and mountain resorts are provide all modern comforts.
The city of Chiang Mai, pleasantly situated on the banks of the Ping river, is a treasure trove of ancient temples, fascination for their distinctive northern Thai architectural style
and rich decorative detail, while on the outskirts is the famed hilltop temple of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Chiang Mai is equally famous for its wealth of traditional handicrafts-in silk,
wood, silver, ceramics and more-which make the city a veritable paradise for the shopper
Beyond, the countryside beckons, offering adventure travel by trekking, elephant-back,
river rafting or four-wheel drive safaris into a natural wonderland, where the traditional villages of colourful hilltribe people are a unique feature in the landscape.
Mae Hong Son :
The remotest of the northern provinces, lying west of Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son is the ideal destination for those who love wild hill country
and who seek the thrill of sweeping valley vistas. Cradled in mist-shrounded forest mountains on the border with Myanmar, Mae Hong Son town
is one of the most enchanting settlements in the entire North. A superb hill retreat, it is both readily accessible and enticingly remote.
Mae Hong Son is served by flights from Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and the ease of getting there is complemented by a good choices
for places to stay.
And yet the place appears reluctant to change and Mae Hong Son manages to offer travellers’ comforts without disturbing an enduring sense of a
lost world. Sights included a lively morning market and a handful of temples with multi-tiered roofs typical of Burmese religious architecture.
Beyond Mae Hong Son, journeys of discovery and adventure lead you into breathtaking mountain scenery dotted with the villages of Karen, Meo,
Lisu and Lahu hilltribes. Alternatively, the little town of Pai provides a tranquil escape amid stunning scenery.
Located east of Chiang Mai, Lampang is more typically and traditionally Thai than its neighbouring province, little changed in spite of the growth
of tourism. The town of Lampang, sited on the banks of the Wang River, nonetheless processes considerable historical interest.
It has been a cultural hub since the 7th century, when it was part of the Mon Kingdom of Hariphunchai, and in the early 20th century
was the center of the then all-important teak trade. Sights today include several of well-preserved temples that display a blend of Thai and
Burmese architecture styles. Especially notable among these is Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, arguably the single most fascinating temple in
Chiang Rai :
This is Thailand’s northernmost province, a region of rugged mountains and fertile valleys, where the relaxed provincial capital of Chiang Rai offers excellent
places for overnight stay
to serve as the perfect center for exploring the Far North. Two high forest peaks, Doi Mae Salong and Doi Tung, are located just a few kilometers north of the town and both
afford easy access into quite spectacular hill country. Of the two, Doi Mae Salong presents the wilder scene, while Doi Tung has been extensively and well developed as part of
a major project conducted under the auspices of the late Princess Mother. A revered temple at the top of Doi Tung adds an Oriental fairytale setting to the splendid views.
Northeast of Chaing Rai is Chiang Saen, on the Banks of the Makong River.
The site of an ancient and once powerful settlement, it is full of historical interest as well as being the nearest town to the famous “Golden Triangle”,
where the confluence of the Mekong and Ruak rivers forms the border between Thailand, Myanmar and Laos-a famous and spellbinding spot.
Located immediately southeast of Chiang Rai, Phayao abounds with stunning scenery, the principle focal point in
landscape being Kwan Phayao, the largest freshwater lake in Thailand. Adding cultural interest are the Thai Lue hilltribe people, noted for their skill in the craft
of hand-woven silk and cotton, and who preserve traditional lifestyles largely untouched by the outside world.
Phrae lies east of Lampang and is another former center of the former teak trade, a distinction still visible today in Phrae town’s many fine
old teakwood houses. Although the hardwood trees are now protected, teak remains an important source of livelihood in the form of carvings and
furniture made out of timber recycled from old houses. In addition to its teaks offerings, Phrae, like other northern provinces, is notable for
its richly forested landscapes.
Long ago the site of a small kingdom, Nan was until recently a backwater and even now remains off the beaten track and retains a distinct rural air.
The provincial capital is, however, a town of enormous charm and interest, with a fine location on the banks of the Nan River and several superb old
temples, including Wat Phumin, the interior of which is decorated with splendid mural paintings. Away from areas of settlement, the province as a
whole is one of marked natural beauty, the hills bordering Laos being still densely forested. For a look at nature close up, Doi Phu Kha National
Park, with peaks reaching 2,000 metres and rich in its flora, provides excellent opportunities for trekking.
Situated at the lower edge of the northern region, bordering the Central Plains, Sukhothai was the cradle of the Thai nation. Here, in a
landscape of low wooded hills, the first capital city was founded in 13th century. Today, the extensive ruins of Sukhothai, as well as those
of its nearby satellite town, Si Satchanalai, are preserved in well-kept historical parks that have been designated UNESSCO World Heritage sites.
At the center of Sukhothai stand the magnificent remains of Wat Mahathat, which was the administrative and spiritual heart of ancient Kingdom.
Spreading out from Wat Mahathat, over an area of some 70 square kilometers, are the ruins of more than 20 other major monuments attesting to the
glory that was Sukhothai. Si Satchanalai, 56 kilometres to the north, is a smaller, though nonetheless impressive site, where a cluster of ruined
temples is attractively backed by wooded hills.
Kamphaeng Phet :
A quiet rural province south of Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet was an important line of defense during the Sukhothai era, and the old city has
similarly been preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ruins here are smaller and less imposing than that of those of Sukhothai itself,
but they benefit from a tranquil, leafy setting that lends a romantic charm to their architectural interest.