The ancient city of Chiang Mai can trace its history back more than 700 years. It was built in 1296 under the rule of King Meng Rai as the capitol of the ancient Lanna Kingdom of Northern Thailand, Burma, Laos and southern China. Much of the legacy still remains in the ancient city walls and gates as well as centuries old temples.
The Battle For Chiang Mai
Ringed by mountains, teak tree forests, well-stocked rivers and fertile valleys, Chiang Mai was an important cultural and religious centre that reached its peak during the sixteenth century. It was highly coveted as the main trading town between inland China and the sea ports of Burma. For centuries its neighbours fought to win this prized gem until in 1557 it was invaded and conquered by Burma.
For 200 years Chiang Mai passed back and forth between Burma and Siam as they fought for ownership until in 1774 Siam helped the Lanna King reclaim Chiang Mai.
In 1892 when the Lanna Kingdom became part of Siam a small area around Chiang Mai remained Lanna.
Chiang Mai Tradition Re-emerges
During the twentieth century Chiang Mai became drawn into the rest of the country and lost its true independent nature. It was only in the 1990’s that Chiang Mai was once again recognized as the jewel of the north.
Over more recent times it has emerged as the Heart of Healing and Wellness in South East Asia. More laid back than much of bustling Asia, Chiang Mai retains its individual Lanna character and traditional charm. Today it is a centre of quality spas, yoga schools, healthy foods and myriad natural health therapists and techniques.
We’ll be staying in the countryside on the outskirts of Chiang Mai city beside the Mae Ping River where we can relax in the quiet peace of rural Thailand. The Old City where we can soak up the culture and the history is only a short drive away.