A modern city with ancient roots, Chiang Mai is located in a lush river valley in the mountainous region of northern Thailand, about 435 miles north of Bangkok. The city is one of the top tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. Thousands of visitors book flights to Chiang Mai each year to see the historic remains of its Old City, which date back to 1296 CE. Many travelers also enjoy visiting Chiang Mai’s many Buddhist temples and spending time in the nearby mountains.
Chiang Mai is also known for its many luxury resorts, which include five-star properties owned and operated by high-end hotel chains such as the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton. These resorts alone are worth the plane ticket to Chiang Mai.
Because of the city’s tropical climate, tourists often book flights to Chiang Mai year-round. The most popular time for people to come to the city is December through March, the winter months in the northern hemisphere.
Travelers who purchase plane tickets to Chiang Mai arrive at the city’s Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX), located just three miles from the city center. The airport serves 31 international and domestic airlines, several of which offer flights from major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles (LAX) to Chiang Mai and San Francisco (SFO) to Chiang Mai.
Among the more popular tourist attractions in Chiang Mai are the city’s many religious sites. Chiang Mai is home to more than 100 Buddhist temples, some of which date back to the 13th century. The Chiang Mai region’s most well-known temple, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, was built in 1383. The temple is located on a mountain called Doi Suthep, about nine miles north of the city. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a sacred site for many Thai people. Many visitors who book flights to Chiang Mai come to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, which is at an elevation of about 3,500 feet, to take in the views of Chiang Mai, the nearby mountains, and the temple complex’s historic artwork and architecture.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is accessible by road, but many visitors choose to hike to the temple from Chiang Mai on the Monk’s Trail.
Travelers who want to visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, or any other Buddhist temple, should keep in mind that they must be appropriately dressed (no shorts or tank tops) before entering the temple grounds.
Depending on the time of year they are traveling, visitors who book cheap flights to Chiang Mai can also enjoy one of the city’s many festivals. Among the most popular is the three-day Chiang Mai Flower Festival, which is held each year during the first weekend in February. The festival celebrates the blooming of the region’s many varieties of tropical flowers and includes a parade featuring brightly colored floats decorated with thousands of blooms.
Other festivals in Chiang Mai include Loi Krathong, or the Full Moon Festival, which is held every November; and Songkran, Thailand’s New Year celebration and a national holiday, held each year in mid-April.
Chiang Mai is also home to several museums including the Chiang Mai National Museum, which offers exhibits on the region’s history and culture. The MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum in Chiang Mai is one of only two contemporary art museums in the entire country.
The city and its surrounding region are also popular destinations for outdoor enthusiasts who come to the area to hike, camp, and spend time in the nearby mountains. The region is home to three national parks, Doi Inthanon National Park, featuring Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s tallest mountain; Doi Suthep–Pui National Park; and Pha Daeng National Park. Several outdoor outfitters located in the city offer guided hikes and treks to Chiang Mai’s mountain region, which is great for visitors who take flights to Chiang Mai from far away.
The city of Chiang Mai is also an important center for education in Thailand. It is home to nine public and private universities, including the state-funded Chiang Mai University and Maejo University, and the privately run Payap University and Far Eastern University, which attract students from around the world. Some airlines offer cheap flights to Chiang Mai to students who plan to study in the city.