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THAILAND, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai

Chiang Mai province is in the north of Thailand, close to Myanmar. It is most famous for Yoga retreats, Elephant sanctuaries, waterfalls and local artisans, who create amazing handcrafted goods made of tropical wood, bamboo and other locally available natural sources.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a city of about 130,000 inhabitants in the northwest of Thailand. It is located 700 km north of the capital. It is the largest city in northern Thailand and the second largest in Thailand. Chiang Mai means "New Town" in Thai. Founded in 1296, its location on the Ping River and its proximity to many important trade routes made it of great historical importance. The city is a centre of crafts and arts. Other important industries in its economy include woodworking, textiles, jewellery and automobiles. The city is also a famous and important tourist centre, close to the centres of the Hmong, Yao and Karen tribes.

Unlike the usually densely populated Asian cities, it has the feel of a large village - tidy, clean, traditional and sprawling. The older part of the city is the "Old Town", an 18th century walled quarter on the west bank of the river, with the ruins of several 13th and 14th century temples. The modern eastern part is more open. Two bridges span the wide Ping River. Nearby is Phu Ping Palace, the summer residence of the Thai royal family.

The town is also famous as a centre of Thai handicrafts. Small villages nearby specialise in crafts such as silversmithing, woodcarving, ceramics, umbrellas and lacquerware.

Church complex
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple complex is one of Thailand's most famous pilgrimage sites. The temple lies at an altitude of 1,073 metres on the slopes of Mount Suthep, one of the highest peaks in Thailand, just outside the city. Doi Pui National Park covers 16,000 hectares around the mountain. King Kue-Na had the complex's monastery built in the 14th century; the towering pagoda is said to house relics of the Buddha. There are many other temples in the city. Wat Phra Sing, which dates back to 1345, is home to Phra Sing, the most revered Buddha statue in the north. Wat Chedi Luang (1411) was home to Bangkok's famous Emerald Buddha in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai, the northernmost province in Thailand is about 785 kilometres north of Bangkok. Situated in the Kok River basin, Chiang Rai covers an area of approximately 11 678 km2, with an average elevation of 580 metres above sea level. The province, which is located in the famous Golden Triangle area where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet, is also known as the gateway to the three countries.

Chiang Rai, founded in 1262 by King Meng Rai, was the first Lanna Thai Kingdom and also the first capital. It was later conquered by Burma. It later became a territory of Thailand again and was declared a province during the reign of King Rama VI (1910). According to chronicles, the Wat Phra That Doi Tung temple here dates back to the 910s. Nearby is the Doi Tung Royal Villa, a former residence. Residence of the late Princess Somdej Phra Srinagarindra. Thanks to her activities, the hills have been reforested and the hill tribes have shifted from poppy cultivation to growing other crops.

Today, Chiang Rai is a traveller's paradise endowed with abundant natural attractions and antiquities; the province itself is a testament to civilisations of the past. Attractions include magnificent mountain landscapes, ruins of ancient settlements, historical sites, Buddhist shrines and ethnic villages, and the province is also home to a number of hill tribes who lead a fascinating way of life. For nature lovers, Chiang Rai offers several jungle trekking opportunities on various trails.

A taste of the incredible products of Thailand

Other Cities

INDIA, Rajasthan

Rajasthan is located in the north-west of India, meaning "Land of Kings" in Hindi. Woodworking has been a long-standing tradition in Rajasthan since the 17th century. Masterpieces of woodcarving from the 17th and 18th centuries can still be seen in local museums. The woodwork of Jodhpur is very significant, especially in a region famous for its forts, palaces, gems, wood carvings, block printing techniques and blue ceramics. All doors and modest homes are aesthetically decorated. Form and colour define all life, almost in defiance of the barren, expansive desert sands.

NEPAL, Kathmandu

The capital and most populated city of Nepal is Kathmandu. A popular destination to start your journey to the Himalayas or visiting Bhutan. Kathmandu is vibrant must-visit city for the adventure seekers. Make sure you visit the baazar in Thamel for an authentic shopping experience.

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