|What To See
+ Chiang Mai
In The Know
Did You Know?
Founded seven centuries ago by King Mangrai the Great, Chiang Mai has remained the political and cultural heart of the north from the time of the independent Lan Na kingdom to the present. Lan Na passed through a golden age in the 14th and 15th centuries but in 1558 was conquered by the Burmese and became a vassal state. It was not until 1775 that Lord Kavila, the ruler of Lampang, the second largest city of the north, 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. In the latter year he resettled the city, pronounced it his new capital, and began to restore 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 tied to Bangkok, and in 1932 the last vestiges of northern independence disappeared when the region became a province of Thailand.
As the north becomes more prosperous and the government in Bangkok increasingly confident and secure, northerners have begun to reassert their culture. The heart of this movement and the acknowledged capital of the region is Chiang Mai, dubbed 'the Rose of the North'. The city has much to offer the visitor, from temples and historic monuments to fine restaurants and golden sunsets accentuated by Doi Suthep, its guardian mountain.