Chiang Mai is the hub of Northern Thailand. Located on a plain at an elevation of 316 m, surrounded by mountains and lush countryside, it is much greener and quieter than the capital, and has a cosmopolitan air and a significant expat population.
Chiang Mai's historical centre is the walled city (chiang in Thai, hence Chiang Mai - "New Walled City"). Sections of the wall remain at the gates and corners, but of the rest only the moat remains.
Inside Chiang Mai's remaining city walls are numerous temples dating back to the founding of the principality, in a combination of Burmese, Sri Lankan and Lanna Thai styles, decorated with beautiful wood carvings, Naga staircases, leonine and angelic guardians, gilded umbrellas and pagodas laced with gold filigree.
The most famous is Doi Suthep, which overlooks the city from a mountainside 13 km away.