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Chiang Mai, called “The rose of the north”, is a friendly city located about 700 kilometres north of Bangkok that offers a relaxing atmosphere, great shopping and fun activities. This city is a popular holiday destination and many people from Bangkok come here regularly. Chiang Mai actually means “new city” and was founded in 1296 as the capital of the Lannathai Kingdom. At the time the whole city was walled and surrounded by moats. The same area today is called the Old Town. Slowly the new city was developed around the walls. However, Chiang Mai has not always been a part of Thailand, but also of Burma (Myanmar) and of Siam (the old name for Thailand). It was not until 1949 that Siam officially became Thailand, hence also Chiang Mai.
Rich in both history and culture, Chiang Mai is a city full of things to do and to see. Here you can find over 300 Buddhist temples, great shopping, an abundance of markets, tasty Thai food and numerous outings. Chiang Mai truly has something to offer for everyone!
You will find hundreds of dining options in Chiang Mai. Walking in the streets you will come across great street food, romantic diners, chic bars and traditional restaurants. Finding somewhere to eat in Chiang Mai will be your least problem. Chiang Mai is especially known for having great vegetarian restaurants. You will need a lot of time to try them all. The diversity of the vegetarian food is hard to find someplace else in the world. Go crazy trying everything from falafels, Thai curry to salads. When in Chiang Mai you will probably get yourself familiar with the so called “cooking schools”. Do not miss this opportunity if you like cooking. The cooking schools are very popular and involve teaching foreigners how to cook great, simple Thai food. One class normally goes on for a half or a full day, sometimes even longer.
Cafés and Chiang Mai is a match made in heaven. Everywhere you go you will find coffee shops; quirky, fun, small, large, you name it. If you like coffee, this could be your heaven on earth. In most cafés you can use free WiFi, great for getting in touch with everyone at home while sipping on a good cup of coffee.
Chiang Mai is not as “out of control” as Bangkok, or some of the islands, when it comes to partying. Here you will experience more of a laid-back atmosphere when going out. The riverside is especially great for having drinks while listening to live music. The city is full of students and tourists, so if you do want to hit the town there are several great places for a good night out. Note that clubs close early because of city law. Many of the hotel bars offer great places for kicking back while having drinks.
Shopping in Chiang Mai is a true delight. If you like a bargain you must visit one of the many markets found around town selling handicrafts and art. Chiang Mai is also full of technology and computers, hence a great town for both the technology geek and the art freak.
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