Chiang Mai literally means “new city” and has retained the name despite celebrating its 700th anniversary in 1996. King Meng Rai the Great founded the city as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom on Thursday, April 12 1296 around the same time as the establishment of the Sukhothai Kingdom. King Meng Rai even conferred with his friends, King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Phayao before choosing the site where the capital of the Lanna Kingdom was to be founded. Henceforth, Chiang Mai not only became the capital and cultural core of the Lanna Kingdom, it was also to be the center of Buddhism in northern Thailand.
The old city of Chiang Mai is a showcase of the north’s fascinating indigenous cultural identity that includes diverse dialects, a delectable cuisine, distinctive architecture, traditional values, lively festivals, numerous handicrafts workshops, northern style massage, and classical dances.
Chiang Mai is also a great base for day trips to many surrounding national parks such as Doi Inthanon National Park, which is home to Thailand's highest mountain, and nearby Mae Sa Valley, which features many tourist attractions such as bungee jumping, zip lining, driving ATV's, the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden, Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park and the beautiful Mae Sa Waterfall.
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