Chiang Mai is the eponymous city of the largest province in Thailand, and is affectionately known as 'The Rose of the North'. Any visitor to the region will quickly fall for its appeal: rice paddies and fruit orchards stretch before you, while forested foothills form the rugged skyline. In the cities, ancient temples and shrines stand on every corner, while bustling markets and ancient palaces proffer rich cultural experiences.
Chiang Mai was founded in 1296 by King Mangrai, who established it as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom. During its early history, Chiang Mai faced numerous invasions from neighboring kingdoms and the Mongol Empire. The city fought to maintain its independence and became known for its strong fortifications and defensive walls. Take the Historic Chiang Mai Bike Tour to visit Tha Phae Gate, which served as the main entrance to the walled city for many centuries.
In the 16th century, Chiang Mai fell under the control of the Burmese Kingdom of Ava. The Burmese ruled over the city for nearly two centuries, before Chiang Mai became part of the Kingdom of Siam (present-day Thailand) in the late 18th century.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Chiang Mai experienced significant growth and development. The city became a major center for teak trading, attracting merchants and traders from across Southeast Asia. This influx of wealth and growth in population led to the construction of numerous temples. Witness Wat Inthakin, which houses the city's sacred pillar, illuminated against the dusky sky on the family-friendly Chiang Mai Evening Bike Tour.
The history of Chiang Mai is deeply intertwined with the history of Northern Thailand and the broader region, and to get a sense of the similarities between the ornate temples of the city and the forest shrines of the province, take the Lamphun & Countryside Bike Tour Chiang Mai. You'll visit the ancient city of Lamphun and traverse the lush foothills of the Chiang Mai mountains, stopping off at temples, villages, and craft workshops along the way.