Geography of Chiang Mai
Looking at the Chiang Mai map, the city consists of the old town, developed 700 years ago on a cardinal compass point axis, and a newer section that is sandwiched between the eastern side of the moat and the Ping River – about one kilometre east. Here you’ll find the busy night market area as well as hotels and more tourist services on the map. Thapae Gate can be considered the informal central landmark of the city.
Plush, upmarket suburbs and tree-lined avenues are found east of the river on our Chiang Mai map, along with the train station – three kilometres from Thapae Gate. West of the old town is the trendy Nimmanhemin area, which is popular with local expats, while the airport is located southwest on maps of Chiang Mai. A series of new concentric ring-roads surround greater Chiang Mai, where many of the middle-class housing estates are being developed.
The popular Mae Sa Valley recreational nature area is located in Mae Rim district, 20kms north of the city, while the Night Safari and Royal Flora Expo grounds are southwest of the airport, approximately 10kms from the city centre.
Chiang Mai is located in the broad and fertile Ping River valley. The landmark Doi Suithep/Pui mountain rises to the west, while the Mon Larn range runs along the east side, 40kms across the valley floor. The valley itself stretches north and south for about 50kms in each direction, while manifold ranges stretch east and west across northern Thailand’s map.
Maps of the area show a mountainous region typified by windy roads and few settlements. Historically the main cities have been located in the large valleys where rice cultivation could take place on a large scale. The ancient Lanna kingdom encompassed most of the area bound by the present northern Burma border and stretched as far south as Lampang.