Bangkok may be Thailand’s capital, but if you’re looking for an authentic Thai experience take a luxury holiday to Chiang Mai. Once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom, this ancient city still contains traces of its heritage. With its maze of leafy streets dotted with temples, galleries and luxury resorts, Chiang Mai offers a tranquil escape from the modern world.
At the heart of Chiang Mai sits the Old City. Historically, this one-mile-square area previously featured walls and moats. Today, you can still see the remains of the wall, along with picturesque waterways. In the Old City, you can visit numerous ancient sites such as Wat Phan Tao, a beautiful teakwood temple dating back to the 14th-century. Many excellent museums detailing the history of the Lanna Kingdom are also located here.
To the east of the Old City you’ll find some of the city’s best markets. Here you can sample tasty street food, haggle for souvenirs, stock up on fresh fruit or browse the tropical flowers. To the north of the Old City are many museums as well as the Chiang Mai Zoo and Aquarium. The hills to the west are a National Park where you can explore waterfalls, visit a royal residence or explore the city’s most ornate and sacred temple.
Staying in a luxury hotel in the city centre of Chiang Mai gives you easy access to many of the city’s attractions along with restaurants, shops and bars. But for a truly relaxing stay, head to a secluded resort on the city’s outskirts. The beautiful countryside surrounding Chiang Mai has many luxury hotels specialising in revitalising stays.
Warm and sunny year-round, Chiang Mai has plenty to offer regardless of when you visit. One popular time to visit is between November and March as these months see little rainfall and the temperatures range from early to the late twenties degrees Celsius. This is also a busy period for festivals.
Temperatures peak in April and May, which is ideal if you’re planning on spending your holiday by the pool. Chiang Mai’s green season falls between June and October, a perfect time for visiting National Parks.
Chiang Mai’s luxury resorts go out of their way to deliver exceptional culinary experiences. You’ll have several restaurants to choose from each serving a different style of cuisine. Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian dishes are standard, but you’ll also encounter French cooking and Western favourites.
For some authentic Chiang Mai food, head to the city’s markets to sample pork sausage, pad kra pow (chicken or beef with chilli and basil), kow soy (noodles in curry broth with pickled vegetables) or the iconic pad thai.