Chiang Mai, Thailand – Rose of the North

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By MANISHA AHLAWAT

Chiang Mai literally means New City, even though it’s an old city. That is because the city was built in 1296 as the new capital of the Lanna Kingdom after floods destroyed the previous capital. The Lanna Kingdom covered most of Northern Thailand as we know it today as well as parts of Burma, China and Laos. It was a rich and fertile kingdom and Chiang Mai was an important trading centre. 

Today, Chiang Mai is like a woman who looks young and attractive at first sight. But as you get to know her more, you realise she is much older, with a rich and romantic past. She has seen so much, from various kings to many wars, and all that history gives her a distinct character and charm that you cannot help but fall in love with, even if she is 700 years old.  And wait till you see her at the night Bazaar. 

Ideal for solo woman traveller
Located 435 miles north of Bangkok, in the northern Thai highlands, Chiang Mai is unexpectedly refreshing. If you are planning a trip to Thailand, you can easily add Chiang Mai to you itinerary with easy connections via Bangkok Airways. I would advise at least four days in Chiang Mai and as many more days as you can add. This city is ideal for a solo woman traveller.

The old city fort wall with a water moat running parallel to it provides the perfect vista for a night walk. Inside the walled old city happens the Sunday Night Bazaar (Walking Street) known for the many handicraft stalls by local Thai people. The whole place has a festive feel to it with the  street entertainers, musicians and artists performing and with the colourful lights all around. Quaint cafes, bars and vintage fashion boutiques, can be spotted all over Chiang Mai. If you love coffee culture you will love the Nimman area with its row of numerous coffee shops. 

To move around you can walk, rent a scooter or hop on the Red tuk tuks for safe and easy transport.   Avoid visiting Chiang Mai in March due to poor air quality, it’s the burning season. While you enjoy the city cafes, bars and restaurants, you can also plan many more activities as highlighted in a separate post.

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