Chiang Mai in north of Thailand

Chiang Mai during the Yee Peng Festival

Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand and the capital of the Chiang Mai province. The city is located in a vast green valley on the banks of the Ping River. Furthermore, it is surrounded by relatively low mountains.

The old Chiang Mai is well-known for its historical part surrounded by high walls. Therefore it is most famous for its beautiful ancient temples, although there is much more to see and do. Chiang Mai has a large choice of accommodations, restaurants, shops, farms and massage parlors. Moreover, there are several night markets offering the best shopping options.

Yee Peng Festival in Chiang Mai

The Yee Peng Festival is a Lantern Festival where many people release the glowing lanterns into the sky. This religious festival is celebrated throughout northern Thailand especially in Chiang Mai city, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world. Throughout the city, you can find streets and houses decorated with lots of colorful lanterns creating a surprisingly magical landscape. Furthermore, you will find the temples beautifully decorated and illuminated as per tradition. Often Yee Peng and Loy Krathong are celebrated in the same month. They usually fall in the month of October or November although the dates change according to the lunar calendar. So be sure to check the calendar of the current year regarding the festivals dates.

Yee Peng Festival at Wat Phan Tao

If you are lucky enough to be in Chiang Mai city for the Yee Peng Festival, surely Wat Phan Tao is one of the best places for celebrating the festival. Wat Phan Tao, built entirely of Teak, is located adjacent to the well-known Wat Chedi Luang on Phrapoklao Road. Nowadays the building looks relatively modern but Wat Phan Tao is one of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai city.

The entire temple area is superbly decorated with colorful lanterns, flags and candles for important religious days including Loy Krathong, Yee Peng and various Big Buddha Days. On many of these dates, religious ceremonies are held in the evenings with monks meditating in front of the Buddha statue among a myriad of candles and lanterns. The monks’s ceremony and the soft lights of candles and lanterns create an absolutely unique atmosphere.

The ceremony usually starts around 8pm. So I strongly advise you not to arrive late otherwise you will lose the best location to attend the wonderful ceremony. In fact, to get the best spot I arrived at 3pm! At the end of the ceremony I realized that I had hundreds of photographers and people on my sides and behind me!

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple complex is one of Thailand’s most famous pilgrimage sites. The temple is located within the Doi Suteph National Park at an altitude of 1,073 m. on the slopes of Mount Suthep, one of the highest peaks in Thailand (1,685 m), just outside the city.

From the parking lot at the base of the temple visitors can climb 309 steps to reach the pagodas but it is also possible to take the freight elevator for 50 Baht. Once you’ve reached the top there’s plenty to see at the temple, but to enter you must take off your shoes and obviously you must have adequate clothing.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a venerable and venerated temple that is one of the most holy Buddhist sites in Thailand. This majestic temple is always visited by local Thais but also by tourists from all over the world. You rarely find the temple not crowded even on a rainy day. To avoid the crowds, I visited Wat Phra That Doi Suthep early in the morning, even though it was still dark. So I had plenty of time to calmly photograph all the most important spots without visitors. The sunrise was amazing and silent with an impeccable view towards Chiang Mai city.

Opening hours: 06:00 – 18:00

Royal Park Rajapruek

The Royal Park Rajapruek, opened in 2006, is about 12 km from the Chiang Mai city and covers about 200 acres. Virtually impossible to cross this vast park on foot. The site is a huge floral and botanical park with a large amount of flowers and plants. In addition, there are also ponds and a majestic temple at the end of a beautiful avenue, the Ho Kham Luang Royal Pavilion.

If you love gardens and flowers, visiting this beautiful park should please you. Of course, there are months when the Royal Park Rajapruek is more beautiful and flowery than others. The best time to visit is from December to February because the park is in full bloom in these months. The entrance ticket costs 200 Baht for adults.

Opening hours: 09:00 – 18:00.

Wat Phrathat Doi Kham

Wat Phra That Doi Kham, often referred to as the Golden temple, is about 14 kilometers from Chiang Mai town. The temple, located at the top of a hill, offers a panoramic view towards the city and the mountains that surround it.

The most notable feature of Wat Phra That Doi Kham is a majestic 17-metre-tall gold sitting Buddha. This is the main reason why Thai’s mainly come to visit this impressive image. The big Buddha dominates the top of the hill and is visible from miles away. Surprisingly, this image is clearly visible from the Royal Park Rajapruek, which is a couple of kilometers away.

Opening hours: 06:00 – 18:00

Entrance fee: 30 Baht for foreigners.

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Map of locations