Travel Thailand Chiang Mai Province.
          Regarded as the ideal city, Chiang Mai’s deep roots are strictly based on traditional local culture, peaceful atmosphere of the realm, hospitable, the beauty of nature, and cool fresh air all year round. Therefore,  at present Chiang Mai is the best tourism point of Thailand where tourists around the globe want to visit once in their life.
           Located 750 kilometres from Bangkok, Chiang Mai is contained about 20,107.057 square kilometers. The northern part is connected to the Shan State of Myanmar with Dan Lao Ranges as the country,s border. The southern part is next to Lamphun and Tak, the eastern close to Lampang, Chiang Rai and Lamphun, while Mae Hong Son is on the western side.
           At present, Chiang Mai is a centre for the upper part of the northern region. The  province is divided into 22 amphoes and 2 subamphoes : Muang Chiang Mai, Chom Thong, Chiang Dao, Chai Prakhan, Doi Tao, Hang Dong, Sarahpi, San Kamphaeng, Doi Saket, San Sai, Fang, Hot, Om Koi, Phrao, Mae Taeng, Mae Rim, Samoeng, Mae Chaem, San Pa Tong, Mae Ai, Wiang Haeng, Mae Wang, Doi Lo and MaeOn.
            Chiang Mai’s average temperature is about 25 degrees Celsius.The low pressure and monsoon wind from China directly causes cold climate to Chiang Mai in winter.
            The slogan of Chiang Mai is Doi Suthep’s glorious, the unique beauty of tradition, charm of the flowers and Nakornping  precious realm.
Getting to know Chiang Mai
                 The city of Chiang Mai, founded seven centuries ago by King Mengrai the Great, has remained the political and cultural centre of the North from the time of the independent Lanna Kingdom through to the present day. Chiang Mai’s history hasn't always been easy, however. Lanna passed through a 'Golden Age' in the 14th and 15th centuries, but in 1558 was conquered by the Burmese and became a vassal state. lt was not until 1775 that Lord Kavila, the ruler of Lampang, the second largest city of the North, rose up and drove out the Burmese By this time Chiang Mai was all but depopulated, and tigers roamed at will within the deserted fortifications.
Kavila gave orders for the city to be abandoned completely between 1776 and 1796. ln the latter year, however,he resettled the city, pro­nounced it his new capital, and began the great work of restoring the fortifications. The bastions, moats and remains of the city walls that con­tribute so much to the city's beauty date from this time. Over the next

 


 
   century, Chiang Mai and the north became increasingly closely tied to Bangkok, and in 1932 the last ves­tiges of northern independence dis­appeared when Chiang Mai finally became a province of Thailand.
          ln recent years, however, with the people of the North becoming more prosperous, and the government in Bangkok increasingly confident and secure, northerners have begun to rediscover and reassert their tradi­tional culture. The centre of this movement, and the acknowledged capital of the north, is Chiang Mai, often dubbed 'the Rose of the North'. No city in Thailand is more attractive, and none has more to offer the visitor. Chiang Mai is a city of temples and historic monuments, it is true, but it is also a city of fine restaurants and golden sunsets as the sun drops behind Doi Suthep, the guardian mountain which dominates the skyline.
          This sophisticated northern city, long praised for its temperate fruits, delicious regional cuisine, and beau­tiful women, is steeped in history. Crenellated battlements, crumbling walls, wide moats -Chiang Mai has them all, as well as more than a hun­dred temples, perhaps the best zoo in Thailand, a national park on its back door, and a plethora of colourful­ national minority peoples.
          Chiang Mai, which means "New City” in Thai was first established as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom by King Mengrai the Great in January, 1297. The city grew and prospered throughout the 14thand 15th centuries, before succumbing to Burmese conquest in 1558. Over the next two and a half centuries, until its liberation by Prince Kavila in 1774, Burma remained the dominant influence in the North. 
           At the time, the Burmese wars were disastrous for the people of Lanna When Kavila first entered Chiang Mai, he found the city deserted and in ruins, with the population scattered. In 1796, he began the task of rebuilding, surrounding his city with massive, ochre-coloured brick walls and wide moats to keep the enemy at bay.
          Today, these walls and moats delineate the heart of the old quarter, and lend the city much of its charm.
           Walking by the shaded moats, a pop­ular haunt of local fishermen and splashing children, remains an endur­ing delight.
           Other signs of the long Burmese occupation are not hard to find. At severa locations within the moats, and especially at Wat Pa Pao in the city's historic Chang Peuak ward, are gorgeous examples of Burmese and Shan temple architecture -Kipling's “winking wonders" transported, unex­pectedly, to northern Thailand. Perhaps the finest example is the Shan temple of Wat Pa Pao, where, amidst crazily-tilted gateways and time-warped walls, Tai Yai monks can be found teaching second and third generation migrant children to read the complex, rounded Shan script .
          Also redolent of Burma is the tra­ditional northern cuisine. Visitors to Chiang Mai may best experience this during the day at one of the city's many noodle restaurants serving Khao Soi, a Shan-style curry broth popular throughout North Thailand. Served with flat wheat noodles, coconut milk, fresh lime pickled cab­bage and chopped red onions, optional additions include thick soy sauce, fried chilli paste and fish sauce This famous dish is of course, widely available throughout Chiang Mai -but visitors should note that Khao Soi Lam Duan, on Faham Road, enjoys the distinction of having been patronised by His Majesty the King .
         Another popular way to enjoy tra­ditional northern hospitality is at a Khantoke restaurant .Here northern dishes -such as nam prik ong, a spicy minced pork and tomato dish served with a selection of crisp green vegetables and deep-fried pork rinds, and kaeng hang lay, an exquisite pork and ginger curry -are served with sticky rice at a low rat­tan table.
         Chiang Mai is also a city of cul­ture par excellence. Ethnic costumes and traditional dances abound, as might be expected Beyond this, however, the old Lanna capital has emerged as the driving force behind a northern cultural renaissance Perhaps the most obvious manifesta­tion of this is the rediscovery of Kham Muang, or northern Thai lan­guage and writing Signs in the Northern Thai script which is strong­ly reminiscent of Shan. are increas­ingly common, and nearly everybody sports traditional northern dress once a week, on Fridays. Chiang Mai has something to offer everyone. lf you haven't visited this charming northern capital, you should certainly do so. lf you have you won't need any encouragement to make the return trip.
 
       
   

Mountainous Land
         Chiang Mai province is one of mountainous land with many high peaks, which always reflects its nat­ural beauty as a magnet to all tourists. The charm of this land includes not only the fresh and cold air, but also the fields of wild flowers and unique hilltribes' traditional way of life. The 3 most popular mountain sites in Chiang Mai are selected here as Doi lnthanon, Huai Nam Dang and Doi Chiang Dao.

 
   

 









 

Doi Inthanon National Park
          The Himalayan Range extends from the northern part of India to the northern region of Thailand. The foothill, locally called Doi Inthanon, at 2,565 metres above sea level is the tallest peak in Thailand.
        Doi Inthanon National Park covers area of approximately 482 square kilometres in San Pa Tong, Chom Thong, and Mae Chaem Districts. On October 2, 1972, by u royal decree, it was proclaimed a national park, the sixth national park of Thailand, It comprises numerous high peaks of Thanon Thong Chai Mountain Range. Doi Inthanon National Park possesses an extensive forest area of high moisture, Big and small trees are densely covered by mosses, ferns, and lichens around their trunks. Doi Inthanon's peaks then serue as the water resources, Various streams gushing down turn to be beautiful waterfalls, e,g., Namtok Mae Ya, Namtok Wachirathan, Namtok Mae Klang, Namtok Mae Pan, Namtok Siriphum, and Namtok Mae Pa Ko, and eventually flow into the Mae Ping River.
         The highest peak was formerly called "Ang Ka Luang" on account of a large crow-shaped water basin in the area. The story was that Prince Inthawitchayanon, a governor of Chiang Mai, loved the area so much that he wanted his ashes kept at the top of the hill so that he could guard it in his after-life. After his death, his wish was carried out, and the former Doi Luang had its name changed to Doi Inthanon. There are other high peaks, e.g., Doi Hua Mot Luang, Doi Suea Mup, Doi Khun Pon, Doi Pang Somdet, Doi Pha Mon, Doi Pha Yuak, and Doi Pha Kan Chon.
         At the top lies a great expanse of primitive forests. There are some rare species of beautiful wild orchids and plants, for instance, Rongthao Nari Inthanon which was first discovered here and Ueang Kam Boe. Kulap Phan Pi (Rhododendron delavayi) is larger than red rose (Rhododendron simsii) at Phu Luang and Phu Kradueng. Other numerous wild orchids are seen everywhere in the valley
         Due to the cold climate and the height of Doi Inthanon which is 2,565 metres above sea level, the forest in this National Park can be classified into six types as follows:
         Dry dipterocarp forests are found on dry ground less than 700 metres above sea level. Important trees are of the Shorea and Dipterocarpus genera, for example, Rang Khao, Rang Khon, Hiang, Phluang, ancl Teng or Thitya.
         Hill pine forests consist of three-needled pine (Pinus  kesiya) and two-needled pine trees Pinus merkusii) that grow on a higher altitude than dry dipterocarp forest, about 700-1,000 metres above sea level.
         Hill evergreen forests are mostly found on high hills from 1,000 metres above sea level. The plant community is a mixture of temperate and tropical families (Robbins and Smitinand, I966). The temperate plants are of the Ko family, Champi family, Saraphi Pa family, and Kulap Phan Pi family while the tropical plants are usually of the Op Choei family. Other plants include various types of gymnosperm, e.g., those of the Phaya Mai and Makhampom Dong genera. Valuable plants at2,500 metres above sea level are Ket San (Olea rosea), Wa (Eugenia cumini), Ko (Quercus sp.), and Ian (Neolitsea sp.) while some plant at 2,560 metres is Thalo (Schima uallichii).The ground near the Doi Inthanon Peak is populated with different smalltrees, e.g., sphagnum mosses. Another distinctive feature is an abundance of rhododendrons  which comprises three kinds, i,e., red (Rhododendron delavayi), white (R.microphyton), and Kayom (R. ueitchianum). Other plants of temper ate forest are such as Bua Thong, Ya Sai, and Ya Hang Ma Ching Chok.
          Mixed deciduous forests are gallery forests generally found on either side of the stream that flows through the dry dipterocarp forest.
          Dry evergreen forest is rare and found only near the stream. It sometimes mixes with the dry dipterocarp forest. The common plants are such as Yang Daeng (Dipterocarpus turbinatus), Yang Khao (Dipterocarpus alatus), and Takhian Thong or iron wood (Hopea odorata).
          The abandoned farming areas are mostly found about 1,000-1,500 metres above sea level. They once were hill evergreen forests. Some of the areas are now planted three-needled pine trees by the Royal Forest Department while the rest are occupied by the Hmong hilltribe who grows cabbage, the vegetable that requires 1itt1e investment and care.
          Some of plant species at Doi Inthanon National Park need special care as they are prototypes on the verge of extinction from the world. Some of these valuable endemic varieties are Khang Inthanon (Albizia garrettii), Som Kung Inthanon (Begonia garrettii), Bua Thong (Hypericum garrettii), and Thian Inthanon (lmpatiens garrettii).
          For orchids, there are more than 90 species of 26 genera. Thus, this National Park is one of the world's largest orchid strain sources. Some examples are Ueang Ngoen (Dendrobium draconis), Ueang Ta Hoen (Dendrobium formossum),Rongthao Nari Inthanon (Paphiopedilum uillosum), Ueang Kham Liam (Dendrobium trigonopus), Nang Ua Noi (Habenaria dentata), Ueang Mali (Dendrobium sutepense), and Ueang Lamto (Pholidota articulata).
         The Doi Inthanon National Park is the habitat of at least 464 species of four groups of wildlife, i.e., birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, There are at least 382 species of birds, of which 266 species are resident and 104 species are migratory. Thirty-nine species of mammals, e,g., squirrel, common treeshrew, and Burmese striped squirrel, can be noticed. There are no less than 29 species of reptiles in the National Park, There arc rare turtles such as giant tortoise which is the biggest land turtle of Thailand and Siamese big-headed turtle, Fourteen species of amphibians are found in the National Park. Among them are black-sided frog, pond frog, and ambling frog. The only species of salamander found in Thailand is the Himalayan newt locally called Chak Kim Nam.
         The fruit and bud-eating animals found are such as white-handed gibbon, Phayreis langur, stump-tailed macaque, and slow loris. There are a great  variety of squirrels, e.g., Ratufa bicolor. Several peaks and slopes are well suited for goral, serow, bush-tailed porcupine, and various kinds of bats, Additionally, Doi Inthanon National Park provides some interesting eco-tourism activities as follows:
Nature Trails
        Ang Ka is one of the most important locations in Thailand for nature explorers. Its 360-metre trail goes in circle on an elevated wood walkway. The elevated walkway is so designed as to protect people trampling over living organisms on the ground and protect the soil from damage. There are eleven points along the trail. Point 1: Ang Ka, the history of Ang Ka. Point 2: Sphagnum Mosses. They usually grow in the high moisture area . Point 3: Kulap Phan Pi (Rhododendron delavayi),they thrive on rocky areas where the air is cool and moist all year round. Point 4: Interdependence,big trees are covered with a variety of mosses, ferns, and climbers. Point 5: Forest Birds, birds are numerous and easy to find at Doi Inthanon. Point 6: Specific Climate, it is moist and cold all year round on Doi Inthanon if we could conserve this evergreen forest. Point 7: Source of the Ping River, the roots help to absorb and slow down the flow of water, The densely covered ground prevents evapora­tion, resulting to be the Ping River. Point B: Eternal Value, it is the valuable cycle of plant life. Point 9: Hill Evergreen Forest, it mainly covers the entire area, The common plants consist of temperate and tropical species, Point 10: Heliphyte Plants, they are mostly thorny climbers, e.g., begonia. Point 11: The Trace of the Past, in 1992, for unknown puzzled reason, there were scars all over the trunk of Thalo (Schima wallichii).
          Furthermore, there are more appealing nature trails such as Kio Mae Pan Route and Doi Inthanon -Namtok Siriphum Route.
Bird Watching 
         One of the best five bird-watching sites in Thailand, Doi Inthanon is certainly the best in the northern region. Because of its rich habitat, altitude, good transportation and facilities, the Doi Inthanon National Park has attracted a large number of Thai and foreign bird watchers.
         The important bird watching spots in the National Park are 12 points as follows: 1. Route to Tham Borichinda 2. Route to Mueang Ang (at Kilometre 12­-13) 3.Namtok Wachirathan 4. National Park's Office (at Kilometre 31) 5, Intersection (at Kilometre 34.5) 6. Checkpoint -Mae Chaem Intersection (at Kilometre 37.5) 7. Jeep Track (1,500-1,600 metres high) 8. Kilometre 42 -the Stupa -Kio Mae Pan Foot Trail 9, Doi Inthanon Summit 10. Ang Ka Luang Foot Trail 11. Route to Mae Chaem (at Kilometre 3) 12, Namtok Sai Lueang and Namtok Mae Pan.
        The outstanding birds in the NationalPark are ashythroated warbler, green-tailed sunbird, chestnut-tailed minla, and chestnut-crowned laughing thrush.
         In conclusion, Doi Inthanon National Park pertains various geographi­cal and climatic conditions which enhance natural beauty of endemic surround­ings. We should help conserve these natural resources to last forever.
Making a trip
By car: From Bangkok, there are two routes as follorvs: Take Highway 1 as far as Lampang. Turn left and follow Highway 11 to Chiang Mai. Then take High­way 108 passing Hang Dong and San Pa Tong Districts. Before reaching Chom Thong District, turn right at Kilometre 57 to Highway 1009 about 8 kilometres. Then turn right at the 3-way junction to Checkpoint No. 1 of the National Park.
Take Highway 1 as far as Thoen District, Lampang, Turn left to Highway 106 passing Li District to Ban Hong District. Turn left and follow Highway 1010 until reaching Highway 108. Then turn left around five kilometres, Highway 1009 to Doi Inthanon is on the right.
By bus: 
   
      There are regular and air-conditioned buses from Bangkok to Chiang Mai every day. For more information, contact the Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2), TeL. 0-2936-2852-66.
By train:
         There are rapid and express trains from the Bangkok Railway Station every day. For more details, contact the State Railway of Thailand, Tel. 0-2223-7010, 0-2223-7020.
By plane:
         The Thai Airways International operates flights to Chiang Mai every day. For more information, contact Tel,0-2628-2000.
         Bangkok Airways also operates daily Bangkok-Sukhothai-Chiang Mai flight. For more information contact T el, 0-2229-3456-62.
Accommodation
         Doi Inthanon NationalPark provides both lodges and tents together with bedding. If you bring your own tent, you have to pay a fee of 30 baht/person/night.
         For reservation and additional information, contact the National Park Division, Royal Forest Depart­ment, Tel. 0-2579-7223, 0-2579-5734, 0-2561-4292-3 ext. 724, 725. Or contact Doi Inthanon National Park, TeL.0-5331-1608
                                  

 
       







 

Doi Suthep-Pui National Parks
       
Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, situated in Mueang Chiang Mai District, has a historical and archeological significance concerning the establishment of the city of Chiang Mai. The name "Suthep" is taken from hermit "Wasuthep" who, according to the legend, was the father of Quee  Chammathewi of Hariphunchai. On Doi Suthep there is Wat Phra Borommathat Doi Suthep Worawihan, a temple that houses the Buddha's relics. It is, therefote, a sacred place for Thai people in general and for the people of Chiang Mai in particular.                
         Originally, Doi Suthep was a national reserved forest. In 1981, by a royal decree, it was declared a national park, the ffienty-fourth national park of Thailand, covering the area of 100,552.50 rai (161,1 square kilometres).
In 1982, the National Park expanded to include more districts, waterfalls, and streams, with the total arca of 163,162.50 rai 262.5 square kilometres).
          The National Park is part of the Thanon Thongchai Mountain Range. It is charactenzed with complex features and high cliffs, with a geological profile of granite, quartzite, and sandstone. Its highest peak, Doi Pui, rises 1,685 metres above sea level, Other peaks are Doi Suthep (1,601 metres) and Doi Buak Ha (close to Phuphing Ratchaniwet Palace, 1,400 metres). Other peaks include Doi Mae La Noi, Doi Khom Rong, Doi Mae Luat, Doi Pang Hang Luang, and Doi Pha Klong. The terrain in Namtok Mok Fa area is mostly at 400-980 metres above sea level.
        Owing to its mountainous and forest features, the NationalPark is the source of several rivers, streams, and basins, e.g., Mae Hang, Mae Rim, Mae Raem, and Mae Sa. These waterways flow to the east of the National Park into the Ping River, Mae Rim District. The Suthep Basin provides water for use and consumption for Chiang Mai.
       The water of the Tha Chang Basin on the southwest of the National Park is vital to the livelihood of the people and agriculture of Hang Dong District. In other words, the water basins of the National Park nourish Chiang Mai and its neighboring areas.
        Since the major part of the area is covered by the forest grown on high altitude mountain range, the weather is, therefore, cool all year round, i.e., about 16 degrees Celsius. It is coldest in cold season; cool and wet in rainy season. Such climate results in a diverse type of piant community.
       The plant community consists of different types of forests as follows:
       Mixed deciduous forests are found on the plains at the foot of the hill at a lower altitude than dry dipterocarp forests. Common plant varieties include Sak or teak(Tectona grandis),Daeng or redwood (Xylia xylocarpa), Pradu (Pterocarpus macrocarpus), and other plants of the Fagaceae family. On the tree tops there are varieties of orchids, e.g., those of the Dendrobium genus, Rhynchostylis genus, Aerides genus, and Smitinandia genus.
        Dry dipterocarp forests are found at an altitude lower than 800 metres. The plant varieties found are Hiang (Dipterocarpus obtusifolius), Phluang (Dipterocarpus tuberculatus), Teng or Thitya (Shorea obtusa), Rang (Shorea siamensis), and several types of the Fagaceae plants, e,g., Ko Phae (Quercus kerrii), Ko Daeng (Lithocarpus trachycarpus), and Ko Hua Mu (Lithocarpus sootepensis).
       Moist evergreen forests are found at a higher altitude, over 600 metres above sea level, usually near creeks and streams with high moisture. Trees are taller than 35 metres. Plant varieties found are usually of the Fagaceae family, e,g., Ko Paen (Castanopsis diuersifolia) and Ko Mon (Lithocarpus elegans), Some big plants found are Yang Pai (DiPterocarpus costatus), Champi Pa (Micheliafloribunda),Montha Doi (Mangliertia garrettii),Saraphi  Pa (Anneslea fragrans),and Ma Huat (Lepisanthes rubiginosa). Some plants are fond of creeks, e .g., Tong Lat (Actinodaphne henryi) and wild banana trees. Some rare plants are Mai Hom or aloewood (Aquilaria malaccensis), Kam Yan (Styrax bensoid,es), and Op Choei or cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp,J, The ground is covered with Kha Luang Lang Lai (Cynatheaceae chinensis) and a varrely of ferns.
         Hill evergreen forests cover most of the areas of the Doi Suthep-Pui NationalPark, Structurally, they are similar to the dry evergreen forests but are found over 1,000 metres above sea level. Trees are mostly scrubby under –growths.Plants are of the Fagaceae variety, e,g., Ko Paen (Castanopsis diversifolia), Ko Dueai (Castanopsis acuminatissima), Ko Daeng (Lithocarpus trachycarpus), Ko Dam (Lithocarpus truncatus), Ko Mu (Castanopsis calathiformi), and Ko Dang (Lithocarpus lindleyanus), On the ground, there are wild roses, white and red Vanda, Paphiopedilum, and Phalaenopsis, The ground is usually covered with mosses and ferns.
       Hill pine forests are scattered on high ground, especially along the ridges of the mountains, e,g., Doi Pui, Doi Buak Ha, Pha Dam, and Laem Son. Although both two-needled pine and three-needled pine trees are found, the Iatter are more common. There are also plants of the Fagaceae family.
        About 10% of the area is inhabited by the hilltribe community and farmers who grow lychee, coffee, cabbage, and rice.
        At present, there is no report of big animals in this National Park as they most probably were hunted out of existence. However, there are 31 species of mammals, e.g,, common barking deer, sambar, common wild pig, and flying squirrel.
 
       There are over 360 species of birds, including some rare birds, e.g., Hume's pheasant and green cochoa, Birds that are commonly found ate, for instance, white-rumped shama, maroon oriole, scarlet minivet, ashy drongo, blue-throated barbet, great tit, velvet-fronted nuthatch, blue-winged leafbird, hill blue  flycatcher, black-naped monarch, whitethroated fantail, and Gould's sunbird. River chat, an indigenous bird of the north and northeastern regions that migrates from the cold weather, is found here.
        Reptiles found are, for instance, Siamese big-headed turtle, impression turtle, Thai water skink, red-bellied water skink, spiked ltzard, and Doi Suthep's green frog.
        Insects are in great number, especially butterflies, It is reported that there are over 500 species of day butterflies, e.g., Paris peacock, great mormon, white dragontail, red-base jezebel jungleking, cruiser, orange oakleaf, common archduke, Indian purple emperor, common nawab, and purple sapphire.
         The challenging bike track on Doi Suthep is the Doi Suthep -Khun Chang Khian -Huai Tueng Thao Route. The track begin s at a tall forest and goes downhill all the way to the Huai Tueng Thao Reservoir where you can enjoy a swim.
         This particular route is a shortcut along the mountain slopes. The initial part is a tiring upward track. It is possible for car to go through. The forests are well protected, The paths are narrow with the trees on both sides providing a cool shade, so the bikers are saved from the burning sun, The first leg of the track is about 15 kilometres, If you leave Chiang Mai early in the morning, it will be noon when you arrive at the Hmong Village. You can enjoy your picnic lunch in the shade somewhere. After lunch, try cycling around the Village to observe the hilltribe way of life and enjoy a nice scenery of Chiang Mai City down below.
      Before going back, visit the agricultural experimental station of Chiang Mai University, only a few kilometres away, Visit beautiful flowerbeds. Taste fresh coffee from the farm at a very low price, If tourists want to spend a night, they can rent a house (5-10 persons per house). Food and drink are also avallable.
        The end route is through the Hmong Village of Khun Chang Khian -Huai Tueng Thao, It is downhili all the way. The way down is tortuous, Mountain bikers must know how to control their bikes.
       In brief, Doi Suthep-Pui National Park is considered as being important and interesting in that it is where Wat Phra Borommathat Doi Suthep Worawihan, the symbol of Chiang Mai Province, situates. It is an ideal place for holidays and for a research study of nature. It is so valuable that our young and later generations are obliged to forever protect and conserve it.
Making a trip
By car:
From Bangkok, take Highway 1 as far as Lampang. Turn left and follow Highway 11 to Chiang Mai. Follow the Chiang Mai -Huai Kaeo Route until you arrive at Wat Phra Borommathat Doi Suthep Worawihan. At the junction, there is a sign that points to the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park's Office.
By bus: There are regular and air-conditioned buses from Bangkok to Chiang Mai every day. For more information, contact the Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2), Tel, +66(0)2936 2852-66,
By train: There arc rapid and express train from the Bangkok Railway Station every day. For more details, contact the State Railway of Thailand, Tel.+66(0)2223 7010, +66(0)2223 7020.
By plane: The Thai Airways International operates flights to Chiang Mai every day. For more information, contact Tel, +66(0)2628  2000.
Bangkok Airways also operates daily Bangkok-Sukhothai-Chiang Mai flight. For more information contact T el. +66(0)2229  3456-62.                  Accommodation
       Doi Suthep-Pui National Park provides both lodges and tents together with bedding. If you bring your own tent, you have to pay a fee of 30baht/person/ night.
       For reservation and additional information, contact the National Park Division, Royal Forest Depart­ment, TeL. 0-2579-7223, 0-2579-5734, 0-2561-4292-3 ext, 724,725. Or contact Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, Tel.0-53248405              
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Huai Nam Dung
             Huai Nam Dung National Park is located in Mae Tang, Chiang Dao, Wiang Haeng district Chiang Mai and Pai district, Mae Hong Son are full of high ranges extending to the border of the Union of Myanmar, and are an extension of the Chiang Dao range with an average height varying from 500 to 1962 metres. The area is covered with Hill Evergreen Forest and Deciduous Dipterocarp Forest. This includes botanical virgin forest that the Royal Forestry Department grows to substitute the destroyed for­est to restore the watershed of the Ping and Pai Rivers.
          Huai Nam Dang National Park is situated on Highway No.1098 (Mae Malai-Pai) At kilometre marker 65, there is a road to the Park, a dis­tance of 5 kilometres, From there, one can walk for another kilometre to reach a viewpoint near the tourist service centre and Auang Ngern Royal Pavilion in the same area. The beauty of the sea of fog that covers the huge valley makes the Park well known for this most famous and beautiful morning scene in Thailand. However, Huai Nam Dang is just a part of the national park that is adorned with numerous scenic peaks.
          The viewpoint of Huai Nam Dang or Kiw Lom is on the peak of Doi Kiw Lam From there to the east of Huai Nam Dang is a spectacular view of complicated ranges with Doi Luang Chiang Dao standing majesti­  cally tall amidst the white sea of fog. This seems to be the most immortal and familiar picturesque scene to tourists.
          Doi Chang viewpoint is the high­est peak in Huai Nam Dang National Park with a height of 1967 metres above sea level; it offers amazing views of overlapping ranges and morning mist, as that of Doi Kiw Lom. Doi Chang is blanketed with fertile Hill Evergreen Forest. Various kinds of birds living on the high level. This is one of the good spots for bird watching.
          Huai Nam Ru and Doi Sam Muen are located next to Doi Chang. Huai Nam Ru is full of small water holes that moisturize the forest of Doi Sam Muen. This is the source of the Mae Taeng River that flows into the Ping. At the top of Doi Sam Nuen is situ­ated the Watershed Management Unit with a nice scenic view. ln the bright morning, the majestic Doi Luang Chiang Dao can be seen in the dis­tance from here. ln the Past, Doi Sam Muen was encroached till it became deforested, but it is being reforested at present.
Pong Duat is a hot water spring that springs up 2-3 metres high to the air. There are 3-4 big ponds and a few smaller ponds scattered around the area. The boiling hot water from under the Earth's surface spring up with a soft smell of sulphur. While the water temperature at the surface is about 90-99 degrees Celsius, the boiling water deep under the Earth can reach 176-203 degrees Celsius, which is a kind of extreme hot water spring. However, a mineral hot bath service is still available at Pong Duat.                   
Pong Nam Ron Tha Pai
is a group of 4 ponds of hot water springs located among the hills and  fertile forest. The water temperature here can reach 80 degrees Celsius, visible as boiling bubbles and white curtain of smoke covering the area Normally, during every winter tourists feel more comfortable when they come closer around the ponds for the warmth or take a bath in the hot water.






 

Doi Chiang Dao
             Doi Chiang Dao is known for the Doi Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary and the great Doi Chiang Dao lime­stone mountain for trekking to the challenging peak. ln fact, nowadays this place is not only well organized as a wildlife sanctuary but some parts have become the Doi Chiang Dao National Park under the protection of the Thai Royal Forest Department as well. These two conservation areas of abundant forest cover 3 amphoes: Chrang Dao, Wiang Haeng and Chai Prakhan. The reserved areas contain 1,155 square kilometres of which most is mountainous land and virgin forest, well serving to all life as the origin of the Ping River. The highest peak among the area is Doi Tuai, 1,824 metres, that lies next to Thai-Burmese border. Good for natural resources, there are 4 types of forest within Doi Chiang Dao; that are Mixed deciduous, Dry dipterocarp, Dry evergreen, and Hill evergreen. However most of its popular sites are waterfalls and a huge limestone cave.
             Sri Sangwan Waterfall is close to the national park office. lt is one of the most beautiful limestone water­falls. This 20-metre high falls descends down in many layers and creates a happy atmosphere for relaxation.
             Huai Hok Waterfall is only a one layer 20-metre high falls situated deep in the jungle. One has to walk from the national office and this can be time consuming .
             Thung Kaeo is another limestone falls that is very beautiful, but visitors have to trek quite far to reach it.
             The origin of the Ping River is on Doi Tuai. lf we trek into the jungle for 2 hours, we would come to Khun Nam Ru, a small stream that flows out from the mountain. This is the source of the Ping River. Villagers believe that this water source is a holy one Hence, before the farming season, villages would gather there to pay homage and conduct a forest ordination.
             Tham Pa Chan is a large lime­stone cave situated on the northern part of the Doi Chiang Dao National Park. 
              Tham Doi Klang Muang is a very large cave of about 1 kilometre in depth under the Earth's surface lts entrance is on a high and steep rock cliff. Beside this one there are anoth­er two beautiful caves situated by the north of Ban Muang Na known as Tham Chang Pa Hok and Tham Muang Na Nua. lf visitors prefer to go to these caves, they should have to inform the Border Patrol Police for their own security and guidance since it is very close to the Thai ­Burmese border.
                Pong Ang Hot Springs is a nat­ural hot spring with a temperature of about 70-80 degrees Celsius visible all year round.
           The original wildlife sanctuary has its well-known mountain-top as the third highest peak in Thailand and also the biggest single limestone mountain in Thailand too. The Chiang Dao ranges consist of many mountain series forming a horseshoe shape. Many famous peaks are of different heights above sea level; Doi Chiang Dao 2,225 metres, Doi Pyramid or Doi Nua 2,175 metres, Doi Sam Pi Nong 2,150 metres, Doi Kiew Lom 2,140 metres, Doi Luang 2,100 metres and Doi Nhok as 2,000 metres. All these peaks are popular for Thai tourists since the past and today also become a new challenge route for foreign tourists.
           Doi Chiang Dao is a limestone range whereas the nearby Doi lnthanon and Doi Pa Hom Pok are made up of granite. The reason is because millions of years ago, this area used to be a seabed. However, with a tremendous movement of the Earth's surface over 80 million years ago, while the sea level had decreased this area lifted up and became the new land, mountains plain and valleys The high ridge of Doi Chiang Dao that lifts up as a horseshoe shape lies its curve to the east. Another characteristic of the limestone mountain is the holes resulting from the melting of the lime­stone by the rainwater, which is a large basin called 'Ang Salung" (in northern dialect means water basin). The spot that is well known to visi­tors is the foothills of Doi Chiang Dao where tourists set up their camps before trekking up the peak. Beside this, there is one more water basin located to the west of Doi Chiang Dao. 
           The forest on Doi Chiang Dao is shady Hill Evergreen. The trunk and branches of trees growing in this area are covered with mosses, ferns and other parasitic plants. The plants are of the semi-alpine group, as the real alpine plant society has no perennial plants growing alongside. However, here, there are some tall perennial trees growing too such as Ko tree (Oak), and Kho Doi (Trachycarpus excelsa). With this type of forest, there are a number of endemic plant species, which are only found here; for example, Chom Phu Chiang Dao (Pedicularis siamen­sis), Tian Mho Kerr (lmpatiens kerri­ae) or locally known as Yua Chong (literally means goral's food, which eats leaves or flowers and in some texts is called "Yua Liang Pa"), and Kho Chiang Dao (Trachycarpus oreophilus), a world's new species which has been found nowhere else.
          Doi Chiang Dao is a result of natural occurrences in various aspects, the condition of geology, cli­mate, altitude and its location that is different from other peaks, create a habitat for many rare and native plants in the area. Another significant characteristic of Chiang Dao is the last source for the dissemination of the plant species of the warm north zone. This is because it is the top­most point of the lndo-Himalayan or lndo-Burmese ranges. However, if you go up to the peak of the moun­ tain, you would come to a field of emerging stones. Here you have to be careful while walking on the stones since they are sharp and may hurt your feet.
          Those who want to conquer the peak of Doi Chiang Dao have to get permission from the Royal Forest Department in Bangkok before or at the Head Office of the Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary. The tourists have to keep and present the permission letter to the checking point at San Pa Kia before proceeding to the starting point at Den Ya Khad Unit.                     
          On the route, there are some rest areas but there are three major points e.g. Teen Doi (foothell), Sam Pi Nong (ln the valley before ascending to Kiw Pa Ka) and Ang Salung Tourists should make a camp depending on their timing. However, camping on the peak of Doi Luang Chiang Dao or other spots beside those mentioned is discouraged to minimize further deterioration of nature.
          Beside the top of Doi Chiang Dao, there is an old popular tourist attraction like a huge limestone cave with beautiful stalagmites and stalac­tites in the wildlife sanctuary, too.










 

Exploring Chiang Mai Town
           Thailand's northern capital is not the only town in this ancient Southeast Asian kingdom to boast a network of moats. ln the past, when Burmese armies regularly threatened Thai cities with siege, many towns were thus defended. Ayutthaya was-and still is-ringed by waterways, and when these proved inadequate the capital was moved to Thonburi, though not for long The far-sighted Rama I understood the defensive value of water, and moved his capi­tal across the Chaophraya, to Bangkok, where he established the Royal Palace on Rattanakosin lsland, protected by a network of three con­centric moats. The ancient cities of Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet have moats. Chiang Mai is certainly not alone.
          What distinguishes Chiang Mai, however, is the quality and nature of its moats. They are, quite simply, the most beautiful and most extensive in Thailand. Forming a nearly perfect square, they date in their Present form from the late 18th century and serve to delimit the boundaries of the Old City. With a total length of just over six kilometres, and with grassy banks and shade-giving trees, they represent-a spiritual oasis in the heart of the city where people can stroll, relax, converse, or simly contem­plate the city battlements reflected in the still waters.
          Many local people use them as a source of fishing while the local children splash and swim in the waters, especially during the hot sea­son. And what fun would the water-throwing festival of Songkhran which marks the traditional Thai New Year be in the northern capital without the moats?
A Walk in the Old City
          One of the great attractions of Chiang Mai, and especially of the Old City, are the numerous back lanes or sois. They're quiet, and offer the visitor a unique chance to observe contemporary Thai urban life as they wind back and forth between the busier main streets of the city. 
          The best place to begin a walk around the Old City is Thapae Gate. Start here and walk west along Ratchadamnoen Road before turning south along Prapokklao Boad.
         On the right, you will pass a fine 19th century wooden temple called Wat Phan Tao. Once part of the royal palace of the rulers of Chiang Mai, the building was re-consecrated as a temple in 1876. Shortly beyond it's impossible to miss the large gateway opening onto Wat Chedi Luang. King Saen Meuang Ma of Lanna founded the great chedi of this temple in the late 14th century. ln its present restored form, it is about 60 metres high, but before an earthquake dam­aged it in 1545 the central spire was almost 90 metres in height! The compound also houses the city pillar.
          ln the distance against Doi Suthep, you will see Wat Phra Singh, the city's most important and revered temple, founded around 1350. Note the elegant raised library building decorated with stucco angels; also the classical murals of the recently restored Viharn Laikhram.
           Leave by the main gateway and head north to the crossroads; turn east along lnthawarorot Road, to the Three Kings Monument, built to com­memorate the founding of the city.
Visiting the Lion's Den 
          Built by Saen Muang Ma, King of Chiangmai between 1385 and 1401, the statues of two albino elephants, stand close by Chang Puek bus sta­tion. Venerated by the people of Chiang Mai, bedecked in flowers and wreathed in incense smoke, they are a familiar landmark of the northern capital.
          Just a kilometre or so away, two white mortar lions stand on a small island surrounded by a tranquil, lily-lined moat.
          To see the lions, one should con­tinue north up Chotana beyond the White Elephant Shrine to the new super highway. Cross this monster and continue along Chotana towards Mae Rim for a hundred metres or so, then take the first turning on the left, called Soi Anusawari Singh, or "Lion Monument Lane".
           A little down the Soi on the left hand side is Wat Khuang Singh "Lion Lawn Temple". To the right, just before an extensive Chinese ceme­tery, is a small artificial island which may be reached by a low footbridge.
Meditation and Tranquility at Wat Rampoeng
          Among this astonishing range of stupas, just two or three stand out by virtue for their unique or unusual fea­tures. One is the chedi of Wat Rampoeng, located to the south-west of Chiang Mai beyond Wat Umong. Any visitor to Wat Rampoeng will immediately realise that it is a "work­ing" meditation temple. Those engaged in meditation are clad in white. The wat appears popular with overseas devotees. 
         The remarkable chedi of Wat Rampoeng may be found about 100 metres within the temple grounds, sheltered by a grove of trees. lt dates from the early 16th century, and resembles a Chinese pagoda ­unlike any other chedi in Thailand. Shaped like a cone, it rises in seven tiers from a high base culminating in a slender spire. Niches for Buddha images ring each tier, Each niche is framed by geometrical columns sup­porting capitals and capped by a decorated arch that resembles the Naga diadem of a northern Thai dancer.
The Umbrellas of Bo Sang 
         One of the unique attractions of rural Chiang Mai is the village of Bo Sang, about nine kilometres due east of the city. All along the road to Bo Sang are handicraft shops and stores selling a representative cross-section of just about everything pro­duced in the North. Here you can find fine lacquerware and silk, wood­carving and rattan furniture, jewellery and antiques.
          Bo Sang itself thrives on the pro­duction of saa mulberry paper umbrellas and fans. Hand-made, on frames of carefully crafted bamboo, they are hand-painted in exquisite colours and left to dry by the thou­sands all over the village. lnexpensive, elegant, and useful, they make ideal souvenirs from Lanna.
          An ideal time to visit Bo Sang is January, when the cherry trees are in full blossom all over the little town, and the elaborately staged Bo Sang Umbrella Festival is held.
Hang Dong 
          Slightly to the south of Chiang Mai, is the main centre for wood carvings and rattan furniture. Wua Lai Road, located just south of Chiang Mai Gate, is the heart of the old silversmiths district, and is lined with shops selling finely-crafted sil­verware of all shapes and sizes. Warorot Market, in the centre of the city's busy commercial district, is the main local market. Here one can find every sort of northern food, exotic fruits, and imported clothing and other goods.
Museums and Parks 
         The Chiang Mai National Museum, out on the superhighway north of town, has a good selection of Buddha images in various styles ­especially Lanna and other related northern types. There are displays of local handicrafts and work items, an extensive collection of local pottery, and black-and-white images from Chiang Mai's royal past. The muse­um is open Wednesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is B20. 
        Also well worth a visit is the Tribal Museum overlooking a lake in Ratchamangkhala Park opened on the northern outskirts of the city in 1997. The new octagonal building houses a large collection of handi­crafts, costumes, jewellery, orna­ments, household utensils, agricultur­al tools, musical instruments and ceremonial paraphernalia, along with various informative displays concern­ing the cultural features and back­grounds of each of the major hill-tribes in Thailand.
          A 30-minute drive north of Chiang Mai, in the important market town of Mae Rim, is the Princess Dararatsmi Museum, a collection of artefacts and images relating to the famous northern princess who mar­ried Thailand's King Chulalongkorn at the turn of the last century.
Chiang Mai Zoo
         Located on the flanks of Doi Suthep, in the affluent northwestern suburbs of the city, the zoo covers a large area of wooded, hilly land, offering the animals a pleasant, nat­ural environment. Here one can see a wide range of local, regional, and even African animals, from tigers and elephants to rare Nepalese rhinos, hippos and lemurs.
Exploring Mae Rim and Mae Sa
         Just 13 kilometres to the north of Chiang Mai city, on the far side of Mae Rim, lies the entrance to Mae Sa Valley. This pristine area of water­ falls, rushing streams and largely undamaged northern forest is one of Chiang Mai's great secrets. The Mae Sa Valley forms part of an 80 kilo-metre loop road encircling the nation­al park of Doi Suthep and Doi Pui. The entire circuit, which makes a comfortable day outing, is surfaced and well maintained. Attractions-beside the tranquillity and natural beauty-include hilltribe peoples such as Hmong and Karen, as well as local Tai Yai, or Shan, who have long settled at Mae Rim and nearby Mae Raem.
         A visit to the Mae Sa Valley offers a choice of many attractions. Thais, who as a people have an enduring love affair with waterfalls, will make straight for the series of cascades at the Mae Sa Falls or at nearby That Mok. Best seen during the cool sea­son months of December and January, when the waters of the past monsoon still ensure a powerful flow, these falls are impressive enough to draw anyone.
          Elephant riding is, perhaps, the most popular organised attraction in Mae Sa. Several large elephant camps exist, and the great beasts can often be seen grazing on sur­rounding hillsides, particularly further up the valley near Pong Yaeng. These are trained, working elephants-intelligent, long-lived animals who readily recognise their mahouts and, guided by softly-spoken words or the pressure of an elephant-hook, push and pull great teak logs into easily transportable piles. 
          Other wildlife is plentiful in Mae Sa. The valley is an ornithologist's delight, with gaily coloured tropical songbirds flitting in and out of teak trees and groves of yellow bamboo. Hawks, too, can often be seen wheeling far overhead. There are many butterflies, which can also be seen at closer quarters in several butterfly farms along the way. Some have exotic and descriptive names like the Red Spot Jezebel and the Chocolate Tiger. Others are evocative of neighbouring lands-the Shan Nawab of Burma, and the Tawny Rajah of Assam.
          Mae Sa Valley is noted for its indigenous flora, but nowhere is this more apparent-or more easily acces­sible-than at the recently inaugurated Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens. Around 13 kilometres from the Mae Rim junction, the entrance to the gar­dens is marked by a huge fig tree. Here, in an area occupying more than 1,000 acres, are to be found lit­erally thousands of carefully identified flowers, shrubs, trees, orchids, grass­es and other species of flora. As the first botanical gardens in the Kingdom of Thailand, Queen Sirikit is distinguished by a series of semi-paved walkways, a boardwalk, and a five-kilometre nature trail.
Doi Angkhang 
         Doi Angkhang, which at almost 2,000 metres, is usually cool and often really cold. Early in January temperatures near the summit can fall to just below zero which, with "wind chill factor" (or, more truthfully, "long sojourn on the hot plains fac­tor"), makes the night cold feel more like Finland than Thailand These cool days and chilly nights, combined with the spectacular mountain views have earned Doi Angkhang its pop­ular English sobriquet, "Thailand's Little Switzerland".
         The road to Doi Angkhang branches west off the main Chiang Dao-Fang highway just before the vil­lage of Chai Prakan, 138 kms or about three hours comfortable driving from Chiang Mai. For the first few kilometres the newly-surfaced road crosses the fertile Fang Valley, before climbing steeply into the range which straddles the Thai-Burmese frontier.
         After about 10 kilometres, the steep, closely-serried ranks of hills give way to a narrow valley set in high, rolling country. Here hard-work­ing migrants from nearby China have planted great orchards of lamyai trees. Their tidy mud-and-wattle hous­es-with hardly a stilt to be seen-evoke the atmosphere of rural Yunnan. Here, too, groups of wan­dering hill peoples-usually Lahu or Akha-may be seen. The last section of the climb to Doi Angkhang must be negotiated with care-four-wheel drive is better than two, and the route is not recommended during the rainy season.
          Here the road divides, one track leading south towards the hill village of Tam Ngop, the other down into the basin from which Doi Angkhang derives its name-literally, in northern Thai dialect, “basin mountain".
          Back, behind the visitor lies the long drop to Fang Valley and Thailand. Directly in front, only a cou­ple of kilometres away, stretch rows of mist-covered, pristine hills rn Myanmar's Shan State. And below, in the shallow basin, Doi Angkhang township and the Royal Angkhang Station. Here, as at nearby Doi Tung and various other provincial hill sta­tions in the North, a Royal Project sponsors an experimental plant-breeding station specialising in the propagation of temperate fruit and vegetables These and other cash crops are designed to provide an alternate means of living for hill peo­ples whose livelihood has for a long time been dependent on opium cul­tivation.
On the Northern Route
          (Highway No. 107 Chiang Mai-Mae Rim-Mae Taeng-Chiang Dao­Fang-Mae Ai-Tha Ton)
          The Hilltribe Museum is a place of cultural and anthropological evi­dence of the tribal people The dis­play is on their lifestyle, customs, beliefs and the intellectual heritage of 9 tribes: Karen, Hmong, Mien (Yao), Lisu, Akha (E-kor), Lahu (Muser), Lua Thin, Khamu and Mabri (Pi Tong Lueng).
          Chiang Dao Elephants Training Centre organizes elephant' shows, exploring nature on elephant back and rafting on the Ping River.
          Doi Ang Khang is a part of the Dan Lao Range. lt is 1,800 metres high above sea level. The Ang Khang Royal Agricultural Centre is situated here. As its landscape is alike that of the bottom of a pan (Ang Khang means bottom of a pan) the weather here is cold all year round. Therefore it is suitable for growing plants from cold countries including peach, Chinese plum, vegetables and flower­ing plants Two tribes living in the area are Lahu at Khob Dong and Pa Long who emigrated from Myanmar.
          Mae Fang National Park is a new national park with an important moun­tain; Doi Pahom Pok, the third high­est peak in Thailand. lt is 2,285 metres high above sea level; there is the Fang Hot Springs with its tem­perature of 90-100 degrees Celsius. Tourists can bath in mineral water for health here.
          At Thaton Bridge crossing the Kok River to Chiang Rai, there are a series of resorts and boats for exploring the beauty of the Kok River or going up to Muang Chiang Rai District.
         Tham Muang On -An outstand­ing point of this huge cave is Nom Pa stupa created by long stalagmites and stalactites. ln the cave, there are stones of various figures; such as, dinosaurs and others animals, etc. Moreover, there are Buddha images of reclining and meditation postures inside the cave, too.










 

Festivals of Chiang Mai and the North
               Chiang Mai is a city of culture par excellence. Ethnic costumes and tra­ditional dances abound. Old northern traditions are also making a comeback. Each November, the lovely festival of Loi Krathong is celebrated with the float­ing of elaborate floral rafts in the city moats and on the Ping River and all over the North. ln recent years this festival has been enriched by the revival of Kohm Loi, or lantern parades, Loi Krathong is the most beautiful of Thai celebrations. As the full moon rises, Thais fill tiny floral boats with candles and incense and launch them into the rivers, canals, ponds, and the sea to wash away sins and bless love affairs. lt is a romantic night for lovers of all ages. At nightfall, there is a procession of colourful decorated floats down Chiang Mai's Thapae Road and past the Municipal offices.
           Chiang Mai is probably Thailand's favourite destination during the Songkran festivities each April marking the Thai New Year, though it is celebrated with gusto throughout the North. For five days, towns and villages are drenched in water poured from buckets, hurled from urns in the back of pick-up trucks, and sprayed from hoses, water pistols and fire hydrants. ln this joyful cele­bration of the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rains, every­one is fair game.
Other favourite Northern festivals include:
January 
        Bo Sang Umbrella Fair: This colourful festival honours the craftsmen of one of the oldest of Chiang Mai arts -umbrellas. There are competitions and exhi­bitions, and the highlight of the fair is a beauty pageant where the annual Miss Bo Sang is selected.
February
        Flower Festival: Held when Chiang Mai's flowers are abloom. Flower exhi­ bitions are staged, but the key event is a grand floral procession through the streets of the city, with floats, marching bands and local beauty queens.
April
        Poi Sang Long: Young Shan men are initiated into the Buddhist monkhood in this ceremony best seen in Chiang Mai or Mae Hong Son.
         
Songkran: The traditional Thai New Year finds the Thais at their boisterous best. One is supposed to bless friends by sprinkling water on them, but it soon gets out of hand and water flies everywhere. The main action takes place on the banks of the Ping River.
May
        lntakin Festival: Held at Chiang Mai's Wat Chedi Luang for seven days and nights to invoke blessings for the city and its inhabitants.
August
        Longan Fair: This celebrates the harvest of the lamyai fruit, for which the valley is well known. Among the key events is the selection of a Miss Lamyai, who joins the ranks of other Northern beauty queens.
September
          Chinese Moon Festrval: Celebrated on the full moon night of the eighth lunar month. Do not miss the lanterns and the luscious pastry moon cakes filled with sweet bean paste, durian and salted eggs.
December
          Chiang Mai Winter Fair: The annual winter fair, held at the Municipal Stadium in Chiang Mai, offers cultural shows the Miss Chiang Mai contest and a product fair.
General
          Buddhist Temple Fairs: During the cool season from November through February, temple fairs are held to raise money for temple repairs. ln the evening, villagers gather to enjoy local drama troupes, carnival rides, and booths selling farm products.
Loi Krathong 
         Annually, at the November full-moon, Thai people celebrate Loi Krathong. Small but elaborate lotus-shaped creations bearing traditional offerings of flow­ers, incense, candles and a coin are floated in the streams, rivers, lakes, ponds to pay homage to Mae Khongkha, the goddess of rivers and waters. Krathong, were made of natural substances like the trunk and leaves of the banana plant, illuminated by tiny candles, and decorated with wild flowers. The festival of Loi Krathong traces its origins to the Sukhothai period, specifically to Nang Noppamat, who is credited with beginning this custom.
Golden Lanterns of Chiang Mai
          Yi Peng is a northern Thai term signifying the full moon of the second month of the lunar calendar ln Chiang Mai, Yi Peng is celebrated as a reli­gious holiday. Throughout the region, temples are full of people making merit, while monks give special sermons and recite religious texts. Traditionally, scrolls illustrating these texts were hung outside the temples to help explain the monks' readings, and in some small villages of the North this custom is still followed. Elsewhere candles are lit in front of every home, and in Chiang Mai ceremonial gates are constructed of palm leaves and hung with special paper lanterns.
        Coinciding with this event, an exhibition of suwanna khom kam-literally 'lanterns of gold" was staged recently at Chiang Mai's Chiang lnn Plaza. According to the exhibitors, lanterns have been used in a variety of Thai cer­emonies for many years. Originally deriving from Brahmin rituals, they were first introduced to Buddhist festivals in Bangkok during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) Before this time lanterns were lighted at the royal palace and in the houses of noblemen, employing different styles and forms to indicate the rank of the owner of the residence.
           Nowadays, lanterns are offered to monks in the hope that the merit-maker will receive wisdom in return The flame in the lantern is said to symbolise knowledge, and the light it gives will, guide the one to the right path in life.
           ln traditional Lanna culture, four types of lantern are identifiable. First is the khom teu, or "portable lantern", carried by people on split bamboo sticks dur­ing the Yi Peng festivities After the procession, these lanterns are displayed about the chapels and ordination halls of local Buddhist temples. Secondly, there are khom kwaen, or "hanging lanterns". These are hung before images of the Buddha and come in many forms-for example in the likeness of a monk's bowl, or a star or a basket.
           A third variant is the khom pat, or “fan lantern". This is a complicated revolving lantern comprising two concentric cylinders of saa paper. Whilst the outer layer of saa paper is plain, the inner layer is decorated with figures, reli­gious symbols and patterns. A lamp lighted within the inner cylinder causes shadow images to fall on the outer cylinder, while heat rising from the lamp turns a saa paper fan above the inner cylinder, causing it to revolve. As a result, the shadow images cast on the outer cylinder move in a manner re­miniscent of shadow puppets.
          Finally, and perhaps most spectacular of all, are the khom Loi or "floating lanterns". These are large, balloon-like lanterns made from a light bamboo frame covered with saa paper. The lantern is "floated" by means of hot air caused by a flaming torch fixed within the frame. Khom loi are released at temples and, sometimes, from private homes in the belief that misfortune flies away with the lantern. These giant “floating lanterns” are generally filled with exploding crackers and other fireworks which are lgnited by slow fuse (often an incense stick) when the lantern is airborne, The results are both noisy and spectacular-particularly at night when long strings of khom Loi rise slowly from temple grounds and the premises of large hotels. Offerings of money are gen­erally attached to the lantern, and by tradition this belongs to the first person to retrieve a fallen khom Loi.
          ln former times, khom Loi were sometimes used in warfare, both to fright­en opponents and in an attempt to set fire to enemy lines. ln such cases the lantern balloon was released when the wind was favourable and allowed to drift over enemy positions. Here-if the timing was right-a charge of gunpowder was exploded by slow-burning incense sticks, and the lantern descended as a flaming torch.