A sprawling modern city has grown up around ancient Chiang Mai (เชียงใหม่), ringed by a tangle of superhighways. Despite this, the historic centre of Chiang Mai still feels overwhelmingly residential, more like a sleepy country town than a bustling capital. If you drive in a straight line in any direction, you’ll soon find yourself in the lush green countryside and pristine rainforests dotted with churning waterfalls, serene wát and peaceful country villages – as well as a host of markets and elephant sanctuaries.
The former seat of the Lanna kingdom is a blissfully calm and laid-back place to relax and recharge your batteries. Participate in a vast array of activities on offer, or just stroll around the backstreets, and discover a city that is still firmly Thai in its atmosphere and attitude.