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DESTINATION

Chiang Mai qualifies as a ‘must-see’ destination for any first-time visitor to Thailand and the city’s many charms – its warm hospitable people, rich culture, laid-back atmosphere and proximity to verdant national parks and other popular northern sites - make it a place that many come back to time and again.

Born at the crossroads of Asian trading routes between southwestern China and the Gulf of Martaban, Chiang Mai has flourished for over a millennium as an entrepôt where peoples from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand have long traded goods and ideas in a fusion of cultures.

Whether they come to work, play, or simply observe, Thai and foreign visitors alike find that, even today, Chiang Mai has perhaps the most unique sense of identity of any city in Thailand. A capital born in pride for things Northern Thai, it's a city that continues to holds fast to its khon meuang (‘people of the principality’) ways.

Outside of the capital, Chiang Mai Province boasts more natural forest area than any other province in the country. A short drive out of town in any direction takes you to into northern Thailand’s scenic countryside. The lush valleys of the north are surrounded by rolling hills which are perfect for day trips to local waterfalls or for the more adventurous, for trekking to semi- remote areas to visit northern Thailand’s ethnic minorities. Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s tallest peak at 2,595 meters is just a three-hour drive from Chiang Mai and can be visited as a day trip from the city.

A walk through Chiang Mai’s sleepy old town reveals its centuries-old history with ancient temples shaded by towering trees hidden down winding alleyways and historic landmarks dotted along its main streets. The city moat, brick ramparts and numerous gates hint at the strategic role Chiang Mai played as a royal capital and center of trade in the past. Bustling local markets and colorful shops add flavor to any visitor’s experience of the city. For those interested in art and architecture, history and Buddhism, Chiang Mai offers a number of unique opportunities to study and discover its traditions. Chiang Mai cuisine also keeps gourmets busy sorting out the exciting blend of Thai, Burmese, Shan and Yunnanese influences. There are massage courses and Buddhist meditation programmes available for short and long stay visitors as well as Thai cookery, textile weaving and language classes. The region also boasts a fascinating array of crafts which reflect the region’s varied cultural influences from neighbors such as Burma, China and Laos. Woodcarving, lacquer ware, hand woven cloth, painted umbrellas and silver are amongst some of the more traditional objects produced whilst younger generations of Chiang Mai artists create contemporary décor and design items of note. The great variety of one-of-a-kind items available ensure Chiang Mai’s continued reputation as Thailand’s best shopping destination for those ‘in the know’. Chiang Mai is also renowned for its lively festivals and celebrations including Loy Kratong, the candle floating festival held each November; Songkran, the Thai New Year festival in April as well as the Flower Festival held in February making it a popular place to take in these special occasions for both Thais and visitors alike.

Raya Heritage’s half and full day excursions and experiences around Chiang Mai and the surrounding region crafted to introduce guests to the unique culture of the north. To learn more about Raya Heritage’s excursion and activities, click here.

LOCATION

Raya Heritage is located just 20 minutes’ drive from the heart of Chiang Mai’s old town. The resort provides a complimentary shuttle service several times each day with a drop off at its sister property, Tamarind Village, on Raj Damnoen Road. Many of the city’s most important landmarks and ancient temples are just a few minutes on foot from here. These include Thapae Gate, the Three Kings Monument, Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang as well as the lesser known but equally beautiful Wat Prasart, Wat Duang Dee and the Chiang Mai Architecture Center, housed in a grand turn-of-the century wooden mansion. Each week, Chiang Mai’s famous ‘Sunday Walking Street’ takes place on this same street.

Located 700 kilometers north of Bangkok, Chiang Mai is easily accessed by a number of daily, one hour flights from the capital. Raya Heritage is a 30 minute drive from Chiang Mai International Airport and twenty minutes from the Night Bazaar and the city’s lively riverside restaurants.

Click here to view a map of the region

Click here to view a map of Chiang Mai City

ART & ARCHITECTURE

Northern Thai art is predominantly religious in inspiration and as such the region’s finest work can be found in its temples. As the repositories for Lanna’s artistic legacy, temples offer visitors the chance to discover the beauty of the region’s architecture, mural paintings and sculpture as well as its numerous craft traditions.

Notably different from Bangkok temple architecture with its emphasis on height, grandeur and refinement, northern Thai temples are characterized by a simple yet striking contrast of whitewashed plaster set against dark teakwood beams. The majority have an almost rustic quality with thick, low walls and a tiered, clay tile roof that sweeps downwards towards the ground with dramatic effect.

Lanna temple interiors feature red lacquered columns decorated with gold leaf stenciled patterns and mural paintings illustrating stories from the Buddha’s life. Lanna murals, which represent another important part of the area’s rich artistic heritage, are full of colorful, vibrant scenes depicting local people and everyday life. Unfortunately, few examples remain, yet those which do provide a wealth of information about the beliefs, customs, and culture of northern Thai people in the past.

The influence of Burmese, Shan, Lao, and Tai Lue culture is clearly seen in Lanna art and architecture from the 19th century onwards. As these groups settled in Chiang Mai and the northern cities of Lampang, Phrae and Nan, they brought with them an intriguing mix of artistic styles. It is this blending of outside influences with local traditions and sensibilities that gives Lanna art its surprising variety, adding to its distinctive charm and character.