Established in 1921, Chiang Mai International Airport is an international airport serving Chiang Mai, Thailand and serves as the major gateway to the northern part of the country, with the Bangkok route being one of the busiest in Thailand. It is the fourth busiest airport in Thailand, handling more than 3,000,000 passengers, 15,000 flights, and 16,000 metric tonnes of cargo in 2010. Currently, there are 17 carriers that operate at the airport. The airport also serves as a hub for Thai AirAsia, Kan Air, and Nok Air. The airport is owned by the Royal Thai Air Force and operated by Airports of Thailand. Chiang Mai International Airport has two terminals, one for domestic flights and the other for international ones. Some of the carriers that operate at the airport include Air Asia, Bangkok Airways, Dragonair, Hong Kong Express Airways, Jeju Air, Korean Air, Silkair, Thai Smile, Tigerair, and TransAsia Airways.
Chiang Mai is the capital city of Chiang Mai Province and the fifth-largest city in Thailand. It is considered as the hub of Northern Thailand. Dubbed as the “Rose of the North,” it is located on a plain and surrounded by mountains and countryside, which makes it a perfect getaway to escape the hustle and bustle of the city – providing a quieter, greener, and more relaxing scenery. The city alone has more than 300 temples that you can go to. Visit Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, a Theravada Buddhist temple and the city’s quintessential image and distinctly recognised on a clear day; and Wat Phra Singh, the city’s most revered temple, drawing pilgrims from all over the world. Wander around Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, arguably the city’s main night-time attraction, featuring original Yunnanese trading caravans and also home to the Galare Food Centre. For a less busy market, head to Anusan Market, which offers cottage-industry goods. The peaks of Doi Suthep and Doi Pui located in Doi Suthep-Pui National Park offer breath-taking views of Chiang Mai. The park is home to natural attractions like Wat Doi Suthep, Nam Tok Monthathon, and Nam Tok Wang Bua Bahn.
How to get around within Chiang Mai
Before, the city was served by air conditioned bus services covering major city routes. However, this service has been discontinued. You can get around the city in three ways: by pedicab, tuk-tuk, or songthaew. The most popular way of navigating around the city (replacing the buses) is on a songthaew, a covered pick-up truck with two long bench seats in the back. Red-coloured ones don’t follow specific routes and ply the main streets and common public areas. Songthaews that run on fixed routes are coloured in white (eastern suburban city of Sankampaeng), yellow (north, in Mae Rim), blue (to Sarapee and Lamphun in the south), and green (to Mae Jo in the northeast). Three-wheeled tuk-tuks are quick, but noisy auto rickshaws that you can hire for a particular destination or for the day, depending on your negotiation with the driver. A number of samlor (three-wheeled bicycles) also still cruise the streets and mostly take you to temples – they are slower, but much quieter compared to songthaews. A convenient and cheap way is to rent a motorbike. It’s especially useful if you prefer to get around on your own and to reach outlying sights. You can also get on a metered taxi or rent a bicycle or car. You can also wander around on foot, although uneven sidewalks can be rather discouraging.
How to get there
The airport is located approximately 3km southwest of the city centre, a 10-15 minute drive. You can get on one of the taxis operating at the exit at the north end of the terminal, located after baggage claim and/or customs, left of the reception hall, to get to any parts of the city from the airport. You can also take bus #4 or charter a tuk-tuk or songthaew. If you’re staying at a hotel, ask if they provide airport pick-up/drop-off services. Other ways of getting into the city are by bus and by train.
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