Covering a total
area of some 169,644 square kilometres, the Northern Region
of Thailand is mainly mountainous with dense jungles. It is
also the sources of several important rivers including the
Ping, Wang, Yom and Nan. which converge into the mighty Chao
Phraya at Nakhon Sawan. Because of its fertile soil, farming
flourishes. The North has been the location of many ancient
civilisations and today remains fairly populous.
The region borders on two countries, both
by mountains and rivers. The northern frontier runs from Tak Province
upward to Mae Hong Son.
some districts of Chiang Mai and
on to Chiang Rai. To the
ease. the border touches mainly on Laos demarcated mostly
by mountain ranges from Phetchabun upward
through Uttaradit. Nan, Phayao and Chiang
Rai. Only the sectors passing through Chiang Saen and
Chiang Khong districts are marked by the Maekhong River along
a stretch of 90 kilometres.
Bordered by Burma and Laos,
characterized by forested mountains lower extremities of
Himalayan foothills - and fertile river valleys, northern
Thailand encompasses part of the fabled Golden
Triangle and was the cradle of Thai civilization where,
several centuries ago, small independent kingdoms held away.
In 1238, the aptly named Sukhothai ("Dawn
of Happiness") became the first truly independent Thai
kingdom where the Thai alphabet was created and nascent art
Diverse elements, including crisp mountain
scenery, exotic hill tribes, forests worked by elephants,
colourful festivals, invigorating Cool Season weather, ancient
cities, exquisite northern Thai and Burmese style temples,
and friendly people contribute to northern Thailand's enduring
Mai, the principal
northern city, some 700 kilometers north of Bangkok,
was founded in 1296 and is located in a fertile valley
some 1,000 feet above sea level. Chiang Mai is famous
for beautiful women, historic temples dating from the
1300s, crisp mountain scenery, distinctive festivals
and handicrafts, and several formerly itinerant hill
tribes of Tibeto-Burman origin.
Rai, northeast of Chiang Mai, and
785 kilometres from Bangkok, lies in the very heart
of the Golden Triangle and is particularly famed
for majestic mountains and many highaltitude hilltribe
villages. Popular attractions include Chiang Saen,
an ancient capital facing Laos across the Mekong
River, and the mountaintop Wat Phra That Doi Tung
which commands a spectacular view of surrounding
mountains, and several Akha hilltribe villages.
kilometres north of Bangkok, is notable for massive sentinel
stone Buddha images that preside over ruins within the
old city walls. The largest temple, Wat Mahathat, and Wat
Si Chum, with its massive seated Buddha measuring some
11 meters from knee to knee, merit special attention.
some 60 kilometres south of Sukhothai, is famous as the
site of the riverside Wat Phra Si Rattana Maha That which
enshrines the venerated Phra Buddha Chinarat, cast in 1357,
and commonly regarded as Thailand's most beautiful Buddha
Hong Son, a
35-minute flight northwest of Chiang Mai, is the tiniest
and most isolated northern provincial capital, nestling
in a valley surrounded by mountains containing several
hill tribes and Burmese style temple.