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Chiang Mai

Deep in the northern mountain ranges and jungles, a world away from Bangkok's famous grand temples and Phuket's celebrated beaches, sits the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand's second largest city. Once describes as one of the loveliest cities imaginable, Chiang Mai still retains a certain flavor of the past with its moated old city, ancient wats and leafy back streets.



Wat Chiang Man
 Chiang Mai's oldest temple is Wat Chiang Man which dates back to 1296 and its two Buddha images, one made of the stone and the other made from crystal.




Wat Phra Singh
 Almost as old, Wat Phra Singh in the centre of town contains a 1,500-year-old Buddha image and another wat.





Chiang Mai National Museum
 The Chiang Mai National Museum, just to the north of the city center, houses an extensive collection of Buddha images and northern Thai handicrafts. Another museum that is worth a visit especially for those preparing to go trekking is the Tribal Museum, which houses a good display of hill tribe textiles, jewellery, musical instruments, weapons and other artifacts. Chiang Mai makes an excellent base for explorations of north Thailand. Treks into the mountains are a popular way to get close to the beautiful scenery and to encounter the different peoples that inhabit the mountains. Bicycle tours are also a wonderful way to view the region, while four wheel-drive excursions can take you further and faster into the surrounding countryside. It is also possible to take a hot air balloon flight over the city.




Doi Inthanon
 Slightly further a field, Doi Inthanon, set in a large national park offering some pleasant walks among the mountain scenery of forests and waterfalls and a popular site for birdwatchers. The sleepy town of Pai has become a tourist hotspot and Mae Hong Song is reachable by a short flight. Another popular excursion from Chiang Mai is a visit to one of the nearby elephant camps such as Chiang Dao Camp or Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, where attractions include elephant rides, elephant bathing and an exhibition on the importance of the elephant in Thai history and culture.
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