Chiang Mai (from Thai: เชียงใหม่ , Northern Thai: ᨩ᩠ᨿᨦᩉ᩠ᨾᩲ᩵) sometimes written as "Chiengmai" or "Chiangmai", is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand
. It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province, a former capital of the Kingdom of Lanna (1296–1768).It is located 700 km (435 mi) north of Bangkok, among the highest mountains in the country. The city is along the Ping River, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya River. Chiang Mai means "new city" and was so-named because it was the new capital, founded in 1296, succeeding Chiang Rai (founded 1262) in the capital of the Lanna kingdom.
In recent years, Chiang Mai has become an increasingly modern city and has been attracting over 5 million visitors each year, of which between 1.4 million and 2 million are foreign tourists (depending on the year).
Recently positioned itself to become a Creative City, and is considering applying for Creative City Status with UNESCO.Chiang Mai is one of two tourist destinations in Thailand on TripAdvisor's list of "25 Best Destinations in the World
", where it stands in place 24.Chiang Mai's historic importance is derived from its close proximity to the Ping River and major trading routes.
The city is subdivided into four wards (khwaeng): Nakhon Ping, Srivijaya, Mengrai, and Kawila. The first three are on the West Bank
of the Ping River, and Kawila is located on the east bank. Nakhon Ping district comprises the north side of the city. Srivijaya, Mengrai, and Kawila consist of the west, south, and east respectively. The city center—within the city walls—is mostly within Srivijaya ward.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand's (TAT) website promotes the city as "a place where both backpackers and luxury tourists can enjoy the ultimate Thailand holiday", as the city is "one of the few places in Thailand where it is possible to experience both historical and modern Thai culture coexisting side by side: the city features centuries-old chedis and temples next to modern convenience stores and boutique hotels.Chiang Mai has more than 33,000 hotel rooms and Chiang Mai International Airport is Thailand’s third largest, after Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang in Bangkok.