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Chiang Mai Province

Thailand’s northern capital is an overnight train ride and light years away from the bustle of Bangkok. Wrestled from Burmese control by the kingdom of Siam, the former capital of the Lanna people is a captivating collection of glimmering monasteries, manic markets, modern shopping centers, and quiet residential streets that wouldn't look amiss in a remote village.

It's more country retreat than mega-metropolis, but this beguiling city still lures everyone from backpacking teenagers to young families, round-the-world retirees and a huge contingent of tourists from China, who are redefining the city's traveler experience.

Historic monasteries and cooking courses are just part of the picture. Get out into the surrounding province to find a jumble of forested hills, great for rafting, hiking, mountain biking and other adrenaline-charged activities. Most visitors will leave the city at least once to interact with elephants, dip into hot springs and wander experimental farms and botanic gardens.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Chiang Mai Province.

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