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The sixth of a series exploring the Peoples, Cultures and History of Northern Thailand. 12 articles, 18,000 words, 60 images

  • By Andrew Forbes and David Henley

The beautiful old walled city of Chiang Mai, set amid the forested mountains and fertile valleys of northern Thailand, is the historic capital of the former Lanna Kingdom. Founded in 1296 by King Mangrai the Great, it did not become fully part of Thailand until 1939, and even today the region retains a distinctly different character, with its own language, culture, cuisine and even temperament.

Although around 40 times smaller than Bangkok, with perhaps four percent of the Thai capital's population, Chiang Mai remains the nation's cultural capital, as well as its most attractive and historically significant city.

The authors have both lived in Chiang Mai for more than twenty years together with their Thai families, and consider Chiang Mai to be their home.

As some small repayment for the city and region they love - for Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand - in 2005 they began writing a series of monthly articles entitled 'Ancient Chiang Mai'. Now in its seventh year, the series examines in an eclectic, informative and hopefully entertaining way the history, culture and traditions of Chiang Mai and of its graceful and friendly people, the Northern Thais.

With twelve articles originally published in 2010, this eclectic collection of articles includes:

  • Mary Court's 'Cheung Mai' in 1882
  • Ma Huan's 'Back Door' from China to Lan Na and Siam in 1433
  • Celebrating Songkran: Traditional Tai New Year in Lan Na
  • Mae Chaem: Clear Waters, Hidden Valley
  • Wat Chiang Man: Temple of the Enduring City
  • Grandjean's Mission to Lan Na, 1843-1844
  • The Old City's former Northern Ramparts
  • Dr Paul Neis' Visit to 'Xieng Mai' in 1884
  • Wiang Kum Kam, King Mangrai's 'Citadel of Safety'
  • Yi Peng and Loi Patit
  • Monseigneur Pallegoix's Account of 1854
  • Lan Na, Burma and Siam according to Tome Pires in 1515