the merging of the past into the present in Chiang
Mai where locals are proud of the city's 700-year
history. Its rich traditional heritage and unique
culture is a perfect foundation for the development
of the city. Chiang Mai is one of the few places in
Thailand where it is possible to find in the heart
of the city centuries-old chedis and temples next
to modern convenience stores and boutique hotels.
The original city layout still exists as a neat square
surrounded by a moat with vestiges of the fortified
wall and its four main gates offering prime access
to the old town.
King Mengrai founded the city of Chiang Mai (meaning
"new city") in 1296, and it succeeded Chiang
Rai as capital of the Lannathai kingdom. Mengrai constructed
a moat and a wall around the city to protect it against
raids from Burma. With the decline in power of the
Lannathai kingdom, the city lost importance and often
was occupied by either the Burmese or Thais from Ayutthaya.
As a result of the Burmese wars that ended with the
fall of Ayutthaya in April 1767, Chiang Mai
was so depopulated that its remaining inhabitants
abandoned the from 1776 to 1791. During that time,
Lampang functioned as the capital of what remained
formally became part of Siam in 1774, when the Thai
King Taksin captured it from the Burmese. Chiang Mai
rose in both cultural, trading and economic terms
to adopt its current status as the unofficial capital
of the north of Thailand, second only in national
importance to Bangkok.
people generally speak Kham Muang (also known as Northern
Thai or Lanna) amongst themselves, but the Central
Thai of Bangkok is used in education and is understood
by most. The old Kham Muang alphabet is now only studied
by scholars and Northern Thai is commonly written
using the standard Thai alphabet.