Chiang Mai Background Links

Getting a little background information on Chiang Mai will help you avoid surprises when you get there. Here are some links to essential information that you'll want to know before you go:

There has probably always been a village of some sort on the site where Chiang Mai stands today. The location is a natural spot for people to settle down. The "New City," which is what Chiang Mai means, as we see it today was founded by King Mengrai in 1292, making it 710 years old in 2002.
Holidays & Events
When planning your trip, you should be aware of the public holidays celebrated throughout the country. In addition to public holidays, numerous festivals occur around the country throughout the year.
Internet Access
Internet access is relatively easy to come by in Chiang Mai. Hotels with in-room wi-fi or internet cables are still quite rare, but most hotels now have computers in their business centers connected to the net. Outside of hotels, there are many small internet centers, many of which also offer long distance telephone service.
Money / Currency
The currency of Thailand is the "Baht" - sometimes spelled "Bath" but pronounced to rhyme with "hot." One Baht is divisible into 100 Satang. Major credit cards are accepted by hotels and large shops, but "hard cash" is the preferred tender almost everywhere. Travelers checks are not widely accepted outside of hotels, so change them for cash at a bank exchange, which you'll find in any and every tourist destination.
Before you book your trip, you'll want to check to see if a visa is required. Thailand has traditionally been rather free with visas, and most westerners still receive 30 day entry stamps on arrival at an airport. However, like just about every other country since 2001, security concerns have lead to a reduction in the number of countries automatically granted visas. For a current list of countries entitled to visa-free entry, visit the Thai Foreign Ministry's web site.
Chiang Mai is popularly known as the "cool capital." The reality is that in the hot summer months, Chiang Mai can be just as uncomfortably hot as much of the rest of the country. However, from December to February the nights can be cool enough to require a jacket, so the appellation is not totally undeserved.
Additional Practical Information
Collected here are links to various sources of information to help you plan your trip.