Chiang Mai is a city in mountainous northern Thailand. Founded in 1296, it was the capital of the independent Lanna Kingdom until 1558. The Old City area still retains vestiges of walls and moats from its history as a cultural and religious center. It’s also home to hundreds of elaborate Buddhist temples, including 14th-century Wat Phra Singh and 15th-century Wat Chedi Luang, adorned with carved serpents.
Outside the central Old City, Nimmanhaemin Road is lined with sophisticated galleries, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants cooking the signature local dish, khao soi. Also offered around town are traditional khantoke dinners served on low tables in teak pavilions accompanied by classical Thai music and dance shows. Handicrafts such as silk, silverware, and lacquerware can be found at open-air markets like the Night Bazaar. Chiang Mai also acts as a base for treks into the nearby mountains for visits to temples, elephant training, and rehabilitation camps, or isolated hill-tribe villages.