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Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (1 day)
The most visited, most important and impressive temple just outside Chiang Mai is Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. The present complex dates from the 16th century and was expanded and restores several times later.
Traditionally you have to walk up the Naga stairs with 306 steps. But if that’s too much, there’s a cable car as well. Then you enter the Stup Pagoda (Golden Chedi); which is very impressive and covered with engraved gold plate.
Do your prayers up there, or respect the Buddhists to do their thing. So please don’t bother them or walk in their way. Dress politely (no shorts), take off your shoes before entering the temple, Keep your head lower then Buddha images and monks and don’t touch the Buddha images.
The entrance fee for foreigners is ThB 30. The temple is approximately 15 km out of Chiang Mai in the hills and can easily be reached by taxi. A trip to this temple can be done in combination with Phu Ping Palace. Don’t forget to enjoy the magnificent view on the Chiang Mai valley.
Phu Ping Palace (1 day)
The Phu Ping Palace is the winter residence of the Thai Royal family, where they stay during seasonal visits to the people in the northern part of the country. The palace is also the royal guesthouse for prominent Stat visitors from abroad.
The palace has several buildings; unfortunately it’s not possible to see them inside. But a walk through the beautiful gardens is absolutely worth it. Thai tourists mostly visit the palace, but it’s interesting for foreigners as well.
Take a taxi to this palace; which is located about 22 km from Chiang Mai in the hills. If you walk down a bit, through the village, after visiting the palace, you can have a great view on the Chiang Mai basin.
The palace is closed from January till March due to visits of the Royal family. Entrance fee for foreigners is ThB 50, for Thai people it is ThB 20. Wear long pants. If you don’t have them they have them for rent. The palace can be visited in combination with Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
Old city centre (3 hrs)
If you like to stay inside Chiang Mai and do some sightseeing, go to the old centre inside the city wall. In the old days this was a defensive wall made by King Mengrai of the Lannathai Kingdom. When this kingdom lost its power, Burmese and Thai from Ayutthaya occupied the city. In 1774 it became part of the Siam Kingdom and nowadays it’s called the unofficial capital of northern Thailand.
Inside the wall you will find many small streets where you can see the ‘real life’. You can also see Wat Pra Singh, the most visited temple in the city. It’s not as spectacular as Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, but still worth a visit.
Tiger kingdom (2 hrs)
Standing face-to-face with a real tiger, for some people a dream, for others their worst nightmare. At Tiger Kingdom it’s possible. Just a 20 minutes drive outside Chiang Mai you will find this wonderful place.
The place also offers a wonderful restaurant serving international and Thai food. The restaurant is open from 9 am to 9 pm. It is a good place to wait until it’s your turn to go into the cage.
There are several options. You can chose for the big cats, medium size tigers, small ones or cubs. Prices are about ThB 320 to 520 per person for a fifteen-minute visit. There are always two guards with you in the cage. You can bring your own camera, but if you like you can get a professional photographer for ThB 200.
Longneck village (3 hrs)
One of the most impressive things to see in Northern Thailand is a longneck village. A good one in the mountains just outside Chiang Mai is the eco-agricultural Hill Tribes Village in Baan Tong Luang. It’s about 45 minutes drive from the city.
In this village you see how these tribes live and especially how they dress. Bring your camera for sure because these people are so beautiful and very willing to pose for you.
A ticket for 1 person is ThB 500. A bit expensive for Thai standard, but it’s in order to preserve the wonderful life style and traditional way of agriculture, which is not easy to see in the present days.
Not to do: Meo Village
Tour operators often sell a tour to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep and Phi Ping Palace in combination with a visit to a Meo Village. That’s a village where you can see how the mountain people used to live in the old days.
Nowadays these villages are no more then a tourist market. They hardly show any traditional handicraft. They all have TV now and what they prefer to do all day is watching TV. It’s ok if you like to buy some stuff, but don’t expect too much. And the market at Night Bazaar is much better and cheaper.
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Language of the world
Of course you like to speak a few words of the local language onboard the plane or at your destination. Here you find some simple basics of the main language spoken in Chiangmai.