The Thais call it "The Rose of the North". For most tourists it is the second city in popularity to visit. Many Thais (and also many expats) want to retire here. A fact is that Chiang Mai is a beautiful city, and much more quiet than Bangkok, although it is becoming more crowded now, in the 21st Century.
The function of the City wall was of course to prevent intruders to enter the city. In old times Chiang Mai has been taken by the Burmese several times, and therefore it has been under Burmese rule once too often in its history. Therefore the wall was eventually built in 1800, after Chiang Mai was re-captured from Burma in 1775, by King Taksin.
Two parts of the wall, one near a corner and one near a City gate, are show above. Mark the thickness of the wall.
Traffic in Chiang Mai is much more acceptable than in Bangkok, but it is getting more busy in Chiang Mai every year. You will see more motorcycles there than in Bangkok, but less Bangkok-style tuk-tuks, although Chiang Mai is one of the few places outside Bangkok where you can find Bangkok-style "tuk-tuks". The street signs are typical for Chiang Mai.
YOU REALLY NEED YOU WITS ABOUT YOU WHEN YOU DRIVE.THE BUS BELOW (SONGTAEWS) ARE CLEVER. YOU BUY A SMALL PICKUP TRUCK AND ADD THE TOP AND TWO ROWS OF SEATS. YOU CAN TAKE 8-10 PEOPLE, CARRY PURCHASES--I'M GOING TO BUY ONE
The central part of Chiang Mai is a perfect square area, surrounded by canals and a city wall. If you go to Chiang Mai by plane, you can see the square, surrounded by canals and walls, even better just before you land or just after you have taken off. A walk around the canal square (around the City walls) certainly is one of the recommended walks.
The important waterway near Chiang Mai is the Ping River. It floats just outside the walled part of the City and you should take a look at it. As you can see, the river is quite wide. There is not much traffic on it, contrary to the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. There are, however, rafting tours that go upstream into the (remains of) the jungle near Chiang Mai
Most public transport is by "songtaews" (small buses or trucks with two opposing planks as seats) in various sizes. For more details about the public transport in Chiang Mai, please also consult the pages about public transport in Thailand of this site.
Chiang Mai is not a very large city, so -if you prefer that- you can do most of your sightseeing by foot.
Chiang Mai is Thailand's second city, but in terms of quality of living, tourist attractions and development potential, it's second to none in Southeast-Asia.
The city is famous for her friendly people, beautiful women, refined handicrafts, cool climate and stunning mountain scenery.
More than three-hundred temples, among them some of the most beautiful and revered in the entire Buddhist world, give the city an atmosphere of calmness and timeless elegance.
Chiang Mai has a distinct international atmosphere with many foreign businesses and organizations (NGOs) locating in the city over the past decade due to her excellent infrastructure with international direct flight connections to all countries in the region including China, Singapore, Malaysia, Burma, Cambodia and Taiwan.
The quality of living is unsurpassed. Accommodation and food are of the highest standard at very low cost. Entertainment is plentiful with numerous festivals, outdoor activities and great nightlife.
Genuine adventure is to be found in the immediate vicinity of Chiang Mai with jungle tours, rafting, elephant riding and hilltribe villages to visit.
Shopping is great, be it for handicrafts, clothes or luxury items. Everything can be found at great prices in stores ranging from small family-run shops to world-class luxury outlets and shopping malls.
In a recent survey by the Asiaweek magazine, Chiang Mai was ranked as the 3rd most livable city in Asia east of Kabul. Everyone visiting or living here would attest that it's in fact number one.