This article (Chiang Mai, Within the Walls) was included in a 16-page travel feature originally published in WE Smile Magazine. It includes a city-guide that features sightseeing, dining options, spas and hotels that focuses on places within the Old City’s walls. Photographs were taken in collaboration with Pam Thien.
Chiang Mai, or ‘New City’, dazzling former capital of the Lanna Kingdom, was founded on April 12, 1296. It effectively marked the beginning of the Lanna period, a lustrous, nostalgic and uniquely romantic bygone era that would last nearly five hundred years—a historic period whose presence is still widely felt today.
At first glance, Chiang Mai is a provincial city like any other in Thailand. Busy roads guide locals in trucks and sedans across blue-grey urban landscapes dotted by emerald green. But upon entering the old city—a planar square surrounded by iconic brick-red walls inside of a man made moat—the atmosphere begins to shift. There is an unspeakable sense of historical reverie. Not even the plethora of newly opened coffee shops and modern bars sporting English and Chinese characters can hope to mask the tiny winding streets, uneven walls and unobtrusive remnants of old Lanna peering from every visible corner.
In the day, even in September, the city was hot. Shopkeepers put up standing fans and watch cars pass by while tourists used to cooler weather sit in shaded cafés basking under mists of water vapour from ‘cooling machines’. The coffee is good here, and there is no shortage of Northern Thai desserts for those with a sweet tooth.
WE Smile Magazine, Inflight Magazine of Thai Smile Airlines
October 01, 2015