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Chiang Mai l Chiang Rai

Chiang Mai

Thailand's second largest city is Chiang Mai. It is located some 700 kilometers (438 miles) north of Bangkok. Many claimed that Chiang Mai is by far more pleasant than Bangkok, with all the advantages of a city lifestyle without needing to sacrifice on other disadvantageous aspects related to city living. Here are some of the attractions found in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Zoo

Visitors will find the Chiang Mai Zoo on Huay Keaw Road, about 5 kilometers from Chiang Mai City center. The zoo had been around for the past 21 years and currently occupies a land area of about 200 acres. This zoo located at the foothills of Doi Sutep is the largest zoo in Thailand. You'll find a huge variety of animals. There are about 6,819 animal living in the forested and green grounds. The wonderful nature that surrounds it includes two waterfalls, two lakes, various camping sites for the night zoo and some awesome view of the city. To enter the zoo, an entry fee of between 20 and 40 bath is charged. Additional charges for a tuktuk (Chiang Mai's version of a taxi) is recommended, as it is almost impossible to explore the entire zoo by foot. This is a nice and pleasant way to spend the day.

Chiang Mai National Museum

For those of you who are keen on northern Thai arts and archaeological findings, then head on down to the Chiang Mai National Museum. It is located on the Superhighway road about five kilometers from the city center. The Chiang Mai National Museum can vie for a spot with the rest of the world for its modest collection of arts and information. Here, you'll find interesting artifacts and pieces from the past such as The Buddha's footprint and a large Buddha head that once belonged to a complete statue. There are even artifacts dating all the way back to the fourteenth to fifteenth century, such as the Kalong, Sankampaeng, Haripunchai and other northern ceramics. On the grounds of the museum, you'll get to see two 500-year old kilns. Those kilns had been transported from these ancient sites.

Huay Keaw Waterfall

The Huay Keaw Waterfall is a romantic spot and is a frequent haunt for families, young lovers and students studying for their exams. It is a quiet spot with a legend that seemed to contradict it. Legend told of the story of Wang Bua Ban, a lady who was spurned by her lover and thus committed suicide at these falls. Despite that, this is a pleasant spot to go to. It is located near the zoo, on the foothills of Doi Sutep. It is a mere 6 kilometers from town. It is a relatively small waterfall that flows steadily during the rainy season but tend to trickle down to a small stream in summer. A good picnic spot!

Montatarn Waterfall

Another popular waterfall is the Montatarn Waterfall. Just 15 kilometers out of Chiang Mai, the Montatarn Waterfall is on the road up to Doi Sutep. It is quite hard to access this place during the wet season as there are about 3 kilometers of dirt road to navigate before you can arrive at the waterfall. However, the rainy season is also the best time to be at this falls as the water then is more powerful, cascading down from the mountain into a small pool that is wonderfully clean and simply refreshing to swim in. For a more rewarding time, take a brief and steep climb up the side of the falls. It will lead you to a very private area whereby you can slide down the shoot into the pond. It is also a good place to admire the city below.

Chiang Mai University

What does 15,000 students and 10,000 staff make up to? The answer: One Chiang Mai University. Located 5 kilometers out of town on the Huay Keaw road, the university occupies a vast space of land on the foothills of Doi Sutep. It is a pretty place with its own lake, waterfall and lots of good facilities that makes up a good university. Facilities include a sports stadium, food centers, a late night market and an arts center. Other lesser-known activities are like performances, concerts, and the likes.

Doi Sutep

The Doi Sutep Mountain is probably the first feature any first-time visitor to Chiang Mai would notice. It is part of the ring of mountains that surround Chiang Mai City. Doi Sutep is 3,051 feet high and standing proud at the peak of the mountain is the guardian temple of the city, the Wat Prathat Doi Sutep (holy temple of Doi Sutep). This gleaming pagoda could be seen from virtually any point in Chiang Mai City. This pagoda is the holiest of all Chiang Mai's temples. To reach it, you would have to drive through 17 kilometers of the beautiful mountainous national park. It is, without a doubt, the most visited temple and tourist spot in the north.

Upon arrival at the temple, visitors will get to see many street vendors trading their ware from sweet corn to Buddha replicas. Two awesome Naga (serpents) fiercely guards the temple's entrance. To reach it, you would have to walk up the 300 steps. It is a rather tough climb for the elderly, but rest assured that your patience and effort will be well rewarded when you reached the temple. Built in the 16th century, not much of the temple's original architecture remains today. However, the view you get from the temple is spectacular. And the view of the gleaming pagoda in its entire glorious splendor is even more awesome up close.

Phuping Palace

Phuping Palace, the winter home to the revered monarchy is located further up the mountain from Doi Sutep. You may view the palace during weekends and public holidays as long as the Royal Family is not in residence. The Royal Palace was completed in the year 1962 and the palace grounds are gorgeously beautiful during the winter months (December - January) for the well planned garden is in full bloom.

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