Tapae Gate, at the center of Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai is one of my favorite places, not only because of its laid back atmosphere and comfortable climate. It seems that there is always something new to discover here, as well as places that never wear thin. This page is my own private list of the places and things I enjoy most when visiting Chiang Mai. It mainly features places that tourists rarely see.
My favorite temple. Chiang Mai is a city of temples. There are dozens of restored temples as much as 700 years old. The one I like the best is Wat Umong. Its air of decay is a pleasant change from the other shiny gold plated temples around town, even though it has undergone some restoration in recent years. The best time to visit just after the rainy season ends, around October or November. The brick faced mound forming the tunnels gets covered with a thick layer of moss, giving a nice fuzzy green coating to the temple.
Another interesting temple is home to my favorite museum. The eclectic museum at Wat Gate is full of a wide range of old items culled from the attics and store-rooms of the temple. But the most interesting thing to me is the collection of hundreds of photographs dating back as much as 100 years. There are pictures of some of the city's most famous temples, before they were restored, as well as scenes from everyday life in Chiang Mai before it became a tourist center.
I always like to wander around my favorite market. Wororot Market stretches along the river north of Tapae Road. The wet market sells everything from meats to vegetables to spices. In fact, there are stalls on the upper floors that offer just about everything anyone could need. At night, the road along the river becomes a flower market selling fresh flowers.