Bangkok is the capital of Thailand
Thai, English is widely spoken
Thailand’s ‘Rose of the North’ is a cosmopolitan yet delightfully laid-back city, straddling the banks of the River Ping and surrounded by mist-topped peaks. Chiang Mai artfully mingles old and new, boasting centuries-old pagodas and temples, alongside modern shopping centres, ritzy restaurants and luxury boutique hotels. It’s a city developing at a fast pace; creeping outwards to the mountains and upwards to the sky. Beyond this modern metropolis, the moat-ringed Old Town retains its traditional Thai charisma, allowing you to experience the ‘real’ Chiang Mai: a labyrinth of cobblestone streets, ancient temples and old-fashioned shops stuffed with silks and art.
This vibrant city is a constant host to various festivals, so stay a while and party with residents, shopkeepers and hosts, proud to show off their endearing hometown. Include a stay within your bespoke Thailand itinerary or combine Chiang Mai with a trip to Laos, Myanmar or western China.
Chiang Mai’s fortified Old Town is home to countless temples; Wat Chiang Man dates back to 1296, whilst Wat Phra Singh showcases wonderful paintings and carved façades. Spot the superb ruins of Wat Chedi Luang, before exploring the charmingly elegant wooden temple at Wat Phan Tao. A steep, twisting road leads to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a famous Buddhist monastery, often considered Chiang Mai’s very finest temple. Climb the spectacular 300-step staircase or hop aboard the funicular to find a glorious golden spire, richly decorated murals, an Emerald Buddha replica, a shrine to the White Elephant, and incredible views of Chiang Mai from a flower-filled terrace.
Visit one of the region’s sustainable elephant parks for a unique glimpse of these gentle giants – watch them enjoy bath-time and log-rolling at the Elephant Conservation Centre, or get close to the charming animals (without rides and entertainment) at the glorious Elephant Nature Park. Chiang Mai Zoo houses hundreds of Asian and African mammals, including a couple of beautiful giant pandas – explore on foot or mono-rail for a bird’s eye view. Next door’s aquarium showcases a stunning array of colourful aquatic life, viewed from an underwater tunnel – the daring can swim with sharks and other striking big fish. Alternatively, discover wildlife after dark on the Chiang Mai Night Safari, featuring a Savanna Safari, Predator Prowl and Jaguar Trail.
Shops range from small family-run businesses to world-class luxury outlets and shopping malls. Hone your bartering skills at Chiang Mai Night Bazaar or Tha Pae Walking Street on a Sunday evening - packed with bustling activities and entertainment, this Sunday night event showcases sword dancing, music and jazz bands as well as various store vendors and Thai food stalls. Purchase hand-woven fabrics, ceramics, gems, lacquer ware and silverware or one of Thailand's famed umbrellas: these delicate, hand crafted parasols are made from bamboo and glazed rice paper and make the perfect post-holiday gift.
In comparison to Bangkok and Phuket, Chiang Mai's position - lying far to the north and surrounded by mountains, away from the influence of the sea - means its temperatures are more marked. The winter months from November to January are usually the nicest.
These figures show monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall for Chiang Mai.
British Airways and Thai Airways from London Heathrow to Bangkok, Etihad Airways from London Heathrow and Manchester (via Abu Dhabi) to Bangkok. Emirates from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Glasgow (via Dubai) to Bangkok. Onward connections to Chiang Mai available.
From London Heathrow to Bangkok: 11 hours, 15 minutes.
Onward connecting flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai: 1 hour 20 minutes.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit Insect and tick bite avoidance.
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations i.e, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCDO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: Foreign Travel Advice. Additional sources of information include: Public Health England, The National Travel Health And Network Centre, Foreign And Commonwealth Office and your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.