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Northern Thailand

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Northern Thailand borders Laos and Burma and covers an area of 170,000 km² and consists of the following 17 provinces:

Chiang Mai
Chiang Rai
Kamphaeng Phet
Lampang
Lamphun
Mae Hong Son
Nakhon Sawan
Nan
Phayao
Phetchabun
Phichit
Phitsanulok
Phrae
Sukhothai
Tak
Uthai Thani
Uttaradit

The area is best known for Chiang Mai, which is continuously praised by its visitors. Although the city is still a more quiet alternative to Bangkok, Chiang Mai has grown rapidly and is now a city with a lot of traffic and chaos like many other cities in Thailand. Surrounded by a moat, the old town is the heart of Chiang Mai. You can find peace and quiet in the small streets, but the major roads are busy. For Thai people, and especially the residents of Bangkok, Chiang Mai is a popular place to travel to. The climate is somewhat more temperate than in the capital. The city is popular with tourists looking to trek to the many hillside tribes, which all have with their own distinctive character.

THE HISTORY OF THE CITY
Chiang Mai was founded in 1296 by the founder of the Lanna Kingdom, King Mengrai.  Originally he ruled an ancient town in Chiang Saen, not far from Chiang Rai. But when the famous Mongol army, Kublai Khan, in 1287 invaded the Burmese kingdom, Pagan, Mengrai felt so threatened that he invaded the Mon kingdom Hariphunchai further to the southwest. At the same time he created an alliance with the king of Sukhothai. Together they built Chiang Mai. The location of the city on the Ping River flooded each year and caused many problems.  A large thick wall with a moat was created to encircle the city. Back then, this type of construction was rare in these parts, but aside from the practical advantage, it made it difficult for enemies to invade the city. Part of the old city walls can still be seen and allude to how the town looked in the old days.

In 1556,  Chiang Mai became a Burmese vassal state. Ayutthaya took the power from Sukhothai and tried several times to invade Chiang Mai. An unsuccessful countermove was attempted against Ayutthaya. The inhabitants of Chiang Mai started to lose heart and eventually they left the city. After King Taksin’s victory over the Burmese, Chiang Mai slowly began to flourish again. For many years, Chiang Mai had autonomy.  In 1784 it became part of Thailand.

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