Chiang Mai is the 2nd-largest city in Thailand, located in the far north of the country. It is a base for excursions to the ancient and remarkable
temples, the teak forests and their working elephants, waterfalls
and caves, and journeys to visit the northern hill tribes. The most
popular places of interest are the Doi Suthep temple and
Doi Suthep, 1 of the most renowned temples in Thailand, is set on a
mountaintop offering wide city views on clear days. The
trip up can either be made on a funicular or by walking up a grand
staircase with 400 steps. The banisters alone are worth a visit:
a giant green-and-red glazed serpent winds its way down to end in
a stunning dragon's head.
Elephant trekking in the nearby countryside has been
a big tourist attraction in the last decade, but trekkers should
know that some 'authentic' trips turn out to be just the opposite.
A number of villages in the area that surround the city produce local
handicrafts. In the Mae Sa Valley,
visitors will find an elephant training school and an orchid farm. From here travellers can make longer
trips to the Doi Inthanon National Park
and to Chiang Rai, from where the Mekong
River and the Golden Triangle can be visited.
Travellers can take an interesting route to Mae-Hong-Son
near the Myanmar border. Mae-Hong-Son is an ideal location for trekking or
motorcycle touring and on the way round its loop, it is
possible to stop at the small, serene and friendly
town of Pai, situated along the banks of the Pai River.
The Central Plains, situated between Bangkok and Chiang
Mai, form the affluent heart of the country, a rich environment
that has seen the rise and fall of great cities and kingdoms. Phitsanulok
is an ideal place for tours in the area and it boasts one of the interesting sites, the Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat in its town. This
monastery contains the renownedPhra Buddha Chinnarat, reputedly one of the most beautiful Buddha images in Thailand.
From Phitsanulok, travellers can tour the ancient city kingdoms of Kamphaeng
Phet and Sukhothai. UNESCO included Sukhothai
on its list of World Heritage Sites. Sukhothai covers
a massive area and boasts temples, palaces and pavilions including lakes, ponds and canals.
Kanchanaburi Province is a haven of jungle-clad
hills and sweeping rivers and the town
contains modern hotels and facilities for tourists including the renowned tourist attraction, the Bridge Over The River Kwai,
where thousands of allied prisoners of war and Thai forced labourers
died at the hands of the Japanese during WWII. The trip by train will be provided for both the normal scheduled and the dedicated tourist services,
running along the 'Death Railway' and across the post-war
An approximate 3 hour drive from Bangkok lies the Khao
Yai National Park & Wildlife Reserve. This
national park is a favorite destination for the nature lovers and it has been developed into a modest resort. The
park contains wildlife and large area of jungles and it is an ideal starting-point to a number of ancient
and historical spots in the northeast of Thailand.
Some beautiful Khmer sites are also available in this region which include Lopburi, Phanom Rung
and Pimai. There are also several special
festival celebrations, the most interesting and exciting being the elephant roundup
at Surin every November.