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and night, holds some of the old city’s most
striking features: crumbling ancient walls,
Gilded pleasures.
Doi Suthep temple, Chiang Mai
I’ve been obsessed with big cities for just which were constructed to repel Burmese NORTHERN THAILAND
about as long as I can remember, so it didn’t invaders, and moats – still fi lled with water 1 THAI FOOD Few nations can boast
come as a surprise when I fell in love with -- that run alongside. It’s in this corner of such an extraordinary culinary
Bangkok from the moment I set foot outside Chiang Mai that you’ll fi nd everything from bonanza for
the doors of its airport. Yet if you’re anything the town’s frequently staged cultural festivals travellers. Fewer
at all like me, the daily grind of the ‘Big to trendy cafés. still can offer it for
Mango’, with its chaotic traffi c jams and Take an easy stroll in almost any direction pennies a plate!
non-stop humidity, will wear you down fast. outside the centre, and you’ll soon discover 2 CHIANG MAI
If you’re not quite ready for the white-sand the prime reason nearly all visitors – even Wandering along its
ecstasy of the Dionysian southern islands, vacationing Thais – feel that a trip to Chiang ancient city walls and moats, and
where should you head? That’s easy. Board the Mai is instrumental in understanding the sifting through the treasures of its
splendid sleeper train and travel due north rest of the country. To put it simply, a journey many markets. Climbing the 300
to Chiang Mai, an enthralling metropolis not to Chiang Mai is all about the wats. steps to Doi Suthep temple and being
far from the Burmese border, and just south A wat, as you’ll learn during even the rewarded with an unforgettable vista.
of the fabled region known as the Golden briefest of visits to Thailand, is a monastery 3 ELEPHANT TREK Boarding the back
Triangle. temple. CM is home to more than 300 of a hulking beast and exploring the
Although a handful of cities in north east Buddist wats, and while Bangkok can claim north’s jungles.
Thailand have larger populations, Chiang a similar number, the views there are 4 REMOTE HILL TRIBES Interacting
Mai is the town most often referred to as understandably less spectacular. Visiting with the remarkable tribes of
the country’s second city. It’s also known as wats is a free experience, although it’s Thailand’s north and learning about
Thailand’s northern capital. Most visitors worth remembering that the temples their culture.
to CM, as it’s frequently abbreviated, fi nd and the resident monks (who maintain 5 RIVER RAFTING Niftily navigating the
themselves staying somewhere within the the compounds) are wholly supported by jungle’s shaded waterways
old city. This truly quaint quarter, humming donations. You’ll always fi nd a donation box with friends on a bamboo raft.
with activity at nearly all hours of the day just inside the front entrance.
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