Chiang Mai is the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Lanna ( the kingdom of a million rice-fields ) is now the modern capital of northern Thailand. During its golden age through-out the 15th century, this powerful kingdom controlled most of what constitutes northern Thailand, north-western Laos, the eastern Shan States of Burma ( Myanmar ) and Xishuanbanna in south Yunan. With the assistance of his two allies, King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Phayao, King Mengrai established the new capital of Chiang Mai.
Over 700 years old and lying on the banks of the Ping river, the city is a wondrous blend of ancient art, culture and history, yet with all the conveniences and facilities of a modern metropolis. Parts of the old wall and a moat surround the city, filled with magnificent ancient temples and steeped in culture.
Situated 310 meters above sea level, it covers a land area of 20,107 square kilometers, a large part of which is covered by undulating hills and mountains and lush-green forests. Doi Inthanond, at 2,565 meters, is Thailand’s highest mountain peak. The city’s largest and most important river is the Ping river. Originating in the mountains north of Chiang Dao, the river flows south-wards for 540 kilometers and flows into the Chao Phaya River at Nakhon Sawan.
With a population of 1,571,962 Chiang Mai is one of Thailand’s largest provinces. Currently 171,595 people live in the city area while the rest reside in the province’s 22 districts and 2 sub-districts. Eighty per cent of the population are locals by birth, speaking the local dialect, which is slightly different from the central Thai language. The remaining twenty per cent constitutes of Thais and foreigners who have moved here to work, study, teach or retire. The majority of the people worship Buddhism.
As regards the weather, Chiang Mai has three main seasons: summer ( February to May, average temperature is 30C ) rainy ( June to October, average temperature is 25C ) and cool ( late October to mid-February, average temperature is 21C ).
No wonder this city, abounding with beauty, charm, culture, history, nature and splendid hospitality is appropriately known as the “Rose of the North”.