The Northern part of Thailand borders on the territories of Laos and Myanmar. The north is the home of Thailand's earliest civilization and is famous for archaeological and cultural interest. Recommended provinces are as following : Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Maehongsuan.
CHIANG MAI is Thailand's principal northern city, which is some 20,000 square kilometres in area, approximately 700 kilometres north of Bangkok. There are many interesting places for visitors, such as :
Wat Phra Singh: This temple is one of the focal points of Songkran festivities each April 13-15 when people bathe the revered Phra Buddha Sihing image.
Wat Suan Dok: This temple is a favourite spot for photographers, particularly for striking sunsets. Several of the white chedis contain ashes of Chiang Mai's former royal family. The 500-year-old bronze Buddha image in a secondary chapel is one of Thailand's largest metal images.
Wat Ku Tau: This temple is noteworthy for an unusual bulbous pagoda. The structure is decorated with colourful porcelain chips and is believed to represent five Buddhist monks' alms bowls which symbolise five Lord Buddhas.
Chaing Mai National Museum: The museum houses a collection of Lanna Thai works of art, ancient Buddha images, and war weapons. The museum opens daily, except Mondays, Tuesdays and official holidays, from 9.00 AM until noon, and 1.00 until 4.00 PM.
Wat Chedi Luang: This temple is the site of an enormous pagoda, originally 280 feet high, and which was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1545. At one time, Wat Chedi Luang housed the revered Emerald Buddha image now enshrined in Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaeo. A magnificent Naga staircase adorns the chapel's front porch.
CHIANG RAI : Thailand's furthest northern province, is about 785 kms. from Bangkok and 580 meters above sea level. Its area is 11,678 square kilometers, mostly covered with mountains. The most important river is Mae Kok, which is about 130 kilometers long. There are many interesting places for visitors, such as :
Monument of King Mengrai the Great: This Monument is situated at the starting point of the road to Mae Chan, Chiang Saen and Mae Sai
Ku Phra Chao Mengrai: This stupa is situated in Wat Ngam Muang in Chiang Rai Township area. It is the place where ashes and relics of King Mengrai are housed.
Wat Phrasing: Where legend holds importance. The ravada image was locatedhere and has been restored for many times to allow accurate dating, but documents suggest the 15th century or earlier.
Wat Phra Keo: Situated behind Wat Phrasing, is believed to have been the original residence of the Emerald Buddha which is now in Bangkok at the Royal Temple of the same name.
Handicraft Center: Is about 3 kilometers from town on Mae Chan Road. It offers demonstration of weaving and ceramic making, sales of goods made at the center and Burmese goods.
Chiang Sen National Museum: Is in Chiang Saen town and one of the most famous museums in Thailand for ancient Buddha images and antiques. The museum is open from 09.00 a.m. - 16.00 p.m. everyday except Monday, Tuesday and official holidays.
MAE HONG SON : Thailand's second northern most province, is sheltered by several high mountains and enjoys a cool climate almost all year round. Mae Hong Son is approximately 924 kilometres from Bangkok. It is bordered by the Union of Myanmar (Burma) to the north and the west, and a strong Burmese influence can be seen in the province's temples and buildings. There are many interesting places for tours, such as :
Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu: Which dominates the provincial city. Constructed by Phaya Singhanatracha, the first King of Mae Hong Son, the hilltop temple affords a wonderful view of the city and surrounding mountains and valleys.
Wat Chong Klang and Wat Chong Kham: These two monasteries are shared the same compound. Apart from the glass paintings depicting Buddhism and simply life style of the villagers which draw much attention from visitors, there are over 30 wood carving dolls taken from Myanmar about the past century.
Wat Phra Non: Wat Phara Non contains a huge Burmese-style Reclining Buddha image some 12 metres long. The temple also houses ashes of Mae Hong Son Kings. Two massive stone lions guard the temple staircase.
Pong Daeng Royal Residence is located within the Pong Daeng Development Project Center, some 4 kilometers to the south of the provincial city. Experimental plant growing and silk worm feeding are performed there under the royal initiation. A 2-kilometer left turn leads to the Royal Residence surrounded by a variety of beautiful plants and flowers on a hill overlooking Pai River.
Pha Sua Waterfall is located in Forest Park of the same name. The 7 level cataract is huge and picturesque. the best time to visit the falls is between early August and late September.