Chiang Mai is a city snug within the jungle; a place where the outside world has crept into modern culture and spread in a beautiful way making the expansive urban center feel more like the calm and warm streets of a town. The mountains overlook the cityscape while the trees add vibrant greenery sweeping through neighborhoods and along the old fortress that brings the past to life. You will be met at the airport by a private transfer and taken to your hotel where you can get situated, acclimating to the new city and the diverse streets.
You will soon be picked up at your hotel by a traditional trishaw that will take you outside of the city walls to Wat Phra Singh, Temple of the Lion Buddha. The temple was constructed in the 14th century and continues to house two medieval Buddha statues. The complex is a major monastery accommodating around 700 monks who are always eager to practice their English with visitors. Step into Viharn Luang, the largest building on site, where you will find a three-aisled interior with a high red roof that stands out against the large white pillars. At the distant wall you can see a large Buddha cast in gold and copper seated in the enlightened position and glistening in the light. The monastic library seems small in comparison to the previous large hall but is interesting in its intricacy and architecture. The stone base helps protect manuscripts from pests and floods and is decorated with reliefs of Buddhist spirits and adorned with a wooden top tier.
Continue onward to a White Hmong village tribe known as Chang Khien. The lush greenery wraps around you and the scent of fresh jungle lifts into the air. The children are shy, wrapped in their vivacious clothing of colorful tapestries shimmering against black cloth. Flowers often grow in vibrant, wild colors around you as you learn about the traditions of the village and the people that have persevered over the centuries of regime, border, and cultural changes. Just before dusk you will come to the steps of Doi Suthep, the mountain overlooking Chiang Mai and the jungle beyond. The temple at the summit was built in the 14th century. The cool breeze brushes through the trees as you come to the snake figures that guard the 300 steps which lead to the temple’s base and line the stairway. At the center of upper terrace you will find the great chedi, a later expansion of the original ornament where a gold plated temple resembles what was once considered the greatest temple in the area, Wat Phra That Haripunjaya. From the lower terrace you can watch the sunset blaze a classic orange over the horizon.