Chiang Mai Journals

Beyond Bangkok: The Temples of Chiang Mai

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A December 2002 trip to Chiang Mai by jemery

Thais at Prayer, Chiang Mai Photo, Chiang Mai, Thailand More Photos
Quote: Thailand is a land of multiple climates and cultures. For cool mountain air, colorful hill people, and temples wholly unlike those of Bangkok, head 750 km north to Chiang Mai - once the capitol of powerful kings and now home to Thailand’s beloved moutaintop temple, Wat Doi Suthep.

Beyond Bangkok: The Temples of Chiang Mai

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Overview

Thais at Prayer, Chiang Mai Photo, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Quote:
Founded in 1296 and once a powerful, independent city-state, Chiang Mai is northern Thailand’s most popular vacation destination. Its culture is distinctively different from Bangkok’s. The temples have more marble, less gold; more graceful curves, less sharp angles. The itinerary my travel agent provided called the mountaintop temple Wat Phra That Doi Suthep "possibly the most beautiful in Thailand." (It’s 3,300+ feet above sea level; just driving to it was a pleasure.) People come here to visit the temples, enjoy a cooler, cleaner climate, to shop the bustling night markets and, perhaps, to ride an elephant through the jungle. Chiang Mai is by no means a "pretty" city: no high...Read More

Empress Hotel

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Hotel

Quote:
This 375-room hotel would have been an excellent choice IF only it had a quiet dining room where I could have relaxed over a drink while composing travel notes. The Empress bills itself as an "international business and conference center" and, indeed, seemed to be well-equipped for that. There were ample meeting facilities, a business center with secretarial service and other anenities, and a banquet hall. For an extra USD $25 a night, visiting executives could enjoy exclusive use of the top two floors and a private "Keyman Lounge". My first encounter with the front-desk desk staff was certainly impressive. Told that there would be many steps to climb during the next day’s temp...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 29, 2003

Empress Hotel

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai Temples

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Attraction | "Chiang Mai's In-city Temples"

Chiang Mai Temples Photo, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Quote:
Clustered near the Old City in Chiang Mai are some other temples well worth visiting on the return from Wat Doi Suthep. Wat Chedi Luang, just outside the west wall of the Old City, was once 90 meters - more than 300 feet - high. It lost much of its height during an earthquake in 1554, but is still an impressive sight. Its rough stone and brick construction contrasts sharply with the gold and marble of Doi Suthep and the intricate carvings of Bangkok’s Grand Palace. We noticed another contrast. The Buddhists of Bangkok use rather benign figures to guard the gates of their temples - grinning man/monkey figures or round-faced, pixie-hatted creatures looking for all the world like o...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 28, 2003

Chiang Mai Temples
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai Temples

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Attraction | "The Montaintop Temple: Doi Suthep"

Chiang Mai Temples Photo, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Quote:
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, perched on a mountaintop 3,300 feet above sea level, looks down on Chiang Mai like a benevolent God looking down over His subjects. Had it been a clear day, one could have had a superb panoramic view of the city and river valley below. My pre-tour briefing book called Doi Suthep "possibly the most beautiful temple in Thailand." Not long ago, the faithful had to climb 301 marble steps to worship here. Now, there’s a short funicular railway to the top (don’t expect a view though; it’s covered, to avoid distracting from the temple itself). Like the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Wat Doi Suthep is actually a collection of several shrines and chapels. T...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 28, 2003

Chiang Mai Temples
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai, Thailand

"Sprinter Express" from Bangkok

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Story/Tip

A Typical Thai Inter-City Train Photo, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Quote:
You might not realize it if you’ve never been north of Bangkok, but Thailand has mountains. Of modest height perhaps, but mountains nonetheless. The daytime "Sprinter Express" train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is an inexpensive, comfortable, and relaxing way to see them. "Express" is a bit of a misnomer. The train makes many stops and, during the last third of the journey, speed is limited by curves and climbing grades. At just under 11 hours to cover 751 km., the trip was about two hours longer than I’d have preferred. However, the ticket included two tasty meals - Thai-style rice and chicken as I recall - and a snack. You won’t go hungry on the trip. The seats aren’t as generously uphol...Read More
Quote:
Every fall, almost without fail, Cathay Pacific Airways offers drastically reduced fares from the U.S. to Bangkok - discounts of up to 15,000 miles for American Airlines frequent fliers. This intriguing city has some of Buddhism’s most spectacular temples and is renowned for its nightlife. Most likely, your most affordable route to Chiang Mai will be via Bangkok. With this easy four to twelve day circle tour, you can add one of Asia’s most famous World Heritage Sites - Angkor Wat - to your Chiang Mai experience without spending a whole lot more money. This itinerary begins and ends in Bangkok with a late-morning return on Day Five. So you’ll be well-rested for resuming Sukhumvit District ...Read More