One of the main Tourist location of Thailand is Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. For the tourist travelling from Thailand’s northern frontiers to a spot known as the Golden Triangle, the best reward is a road trip full of revelations. Thailand has been an all-time favorite travel destination for almost two decades now. Chiang Mai, the capital city of northern Thailand, is as far as most Indian tourists venture.
Things to do in Thailand
- Visit the town of Chiang Mai
- Visit the town of Chiang Rai
- Enjoy the beauty of While Temple
- Cooling your eyes at Mae ah Luang Garden.
- Understanding the Golden Triangle.
History of Chiang Mai
In recent years, Chiang Mai has become an increasingly modern city and has been attracting over 5 million visitors each year, of which between 1.4 million and 2 million are foreign tourists. Chiang Mai is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand. It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province, a former capital of the Kingdom of Lanna.
History of Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai city was founded by King Mengrai in 1262 and became capital of the Mengrai dynasty. Subsequently, Chiang Rai was conquered by Burma and remained under Burmese rule for several hundred years. It was not until 1786 that Chiang Rai became a Chiang Mai vassal. Siam (Thailand) annexed Chiang Mai in 1899, and Chiang Rai was proclaimed a province of Thailand in 1933.
In 1432, during the reign of King Sam Fang Kaen of Mengrai dynasty (1402–1441), the Phra Kaeo, or Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha statue, was discovered in Chiang Rai when an earthquake split the Chedi at Wat Phra Kaeo of Chiang Rai City. The beautiful jade figure was then seen concealed within. Another telling of the story has the ‘Emerald Buddha’ hastily covered in mud just before marauders entered to pillage. Many years later, the clunky-looking mud Buddha was found to actually house the magnificent jade statue, perhaps by way of the earthquake mentioned above – which caused a piece of the clay to break off – revealing the jade beneath.
Many people believe Thailand is called the “Land of Smiles” because of the friendly, happy-go-lucky and cheerful nature of its people. You can apparently smile at any Thai you pass by while walking on the street and that person will most likely smile back at you
The vacation to Thailand is one among the countless that have taken since the first discovered ‘Land of Smiles’ almost a decade ago. Travel to Thailand enjoy a superb mix of history, nature beauty, wonderful people and great infrastructure. Having decided to take it easy towards time the end of the vacation, the cooler climate and relaxed pace of northern Thailand seemed like a natural choice.
Depending on the time that one has at hand, there are two starting points for this popular tourist circuit, and luckily both cities are blessed with international airports- Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. People save the day if they begin from Chiang Rai but they miss out on the hills of lush tropical rain forests, medieval wast hidden deep in the forests, the hill tribe villages and the gurgling waterfalls that are visible along the highway. However the main attractions begin in Chiang Rai itself…
Visiting the White Temple
Thailand’s White Temple is just off the highway, before entering Chiang Rai. The brainchild of Chalermchai Kositpipat, an artist, sculptor, architect and one of the world’s best known exponents of Buddhist art, Chalermchai’s wat is not just a functioning Buddhist temple but also an on-going work of art, akin to Gaudi’s Sagrada Famila in Barcelona(hundred years on and still counting).
The central feature of the White bot, delicately encrusted with pieces of mirror reflecting and catching the angled sun rays. To reach the bot, which houses a pristine white, meditative Buddha idol, one has to symbolically shed anger, jealously, greed, fear, lust and any kind of human craving by crossing the Bridge of Rebirth. The images that great one while crossing the Bridge bring to mind a Harry Potter movie-hands reaching out of hell to pull one in. Inside the bot is covered by intricate murals depicting the Buddha’s life.
Enjoying the Mae ah Luang Garden – LOVE OF FLORA
Heading back into the hills of northern Thailand, there is a way to the Mae ah Luang Garden and the Doi Tung Project. The Mae Fah Luang Garden, which is the brainchild of the present king’s late mother, is a horticultural masterpiece. To change the lives of the underprivileged tribal and veer them away from opium cultivation, which involved ‘slash and burn’ agriculture that had destroyed large tracts of forests, the Doi Tung Project encompasses horticulture, flori culture, mushroom cultivation, and the commercial manufacturing of bamboo cloth.
THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE
Mae Sai town itself is like any other bustling Thai town, with its street markets abuzz with commercial activity, which when one crosses the border post seems to carry on seamlessly into Myanmar. Standing on Burmese soil, one realizes that borders are man-made and that the requirements of commerce, employment, trade, tourism and community ensure a constant moment of people to and fro at this border outpost.
Although there are numerous touristy souvenirs that depicts the Golden Triangle as the meeting points of the countries-Thailand to the south, Myanmar to the west and Laos to the east, the fact is that visually the peninsular tongue of land that abuts into the Mekong River separating it from its tributary is literally the ‘Triangle’.
GETTING THERE from India
Thai Airway, Thai Air Aia and Jet Airways has flights to Bangkok from Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Chauffeuerd cars can be hired or a bus can be taken for the onward jounry to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
There are many luxurious five star hotels and resorts in Chiang Mai, such as the Shangri La Chiang Mai, the Four Seasons and the Tamarind Village spa, ofering guest an authentic Thai experience.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Log on to www.tourismthailand.org