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Chiang Mai - Old City Walkabouts

We visited Chiang Mai for the second time in December 2007 and found that one of Chiang Mai's major areas of interest was is its old city. While many of the older cities of Thailand once had defensive city walls surrounded by moats, Chiang Mai is probably the only city where much of the old defenses are still evident if not intact.

The five main gates, the four corner rampart defenses and sections of wall, some of which have been rebuilt in the original style using the original bricks where possible, are still visible and the whole of the moat still holds water!

It takes about three hours to walk round the outside of the old city within the moated area and walls.

The city within the walls is a busy commercial centre with a network of main 'Thanon' roads and web of small 'Soi' side streets. You should be able to find everything you want within Chiang Mai old city.

The Ta Pae Gate leading to Ratchadamnoen Road, is the old main gate at the eastern wall adjacent to Moonmuang Road. The southern side gates on Bamrungburi Road are the Chiang Mai Gate leading to Phrapokklao Road and Suan Prung Gate leading to Samlan (Sarmlarn) Road. The western gate on Arrak Road is the Suan Dok Gate that does not lead on to a main road and the northern gate on Sri Phum Road is the Chang Puak Gate at the other end of Phrapokklao Road. The corners are named too: Ka Tam Corner at the southeast, Ku Huang Corner at the southwest, Hua Lin Corner at the northwest and Sri Phum Corner at the northeast.

Any walking tour of the old city from the Chiang Mai Ping riverside tourist hotels would be likely to start at the Ta Pae Gate just south of centre of the eastern side of the city wall and moat. The Ta Pae Gate was reconstructed during the 1980s to a plan of what the original gate and walls may have looked like. This gate is the start of a huge 'walking street' market on a Sunday evening, stretching as far as the City Police Station near Wat Sri Koet on Ratchadamnoen Road and a couple of hundred meters either side on Phrapokklao Road.

If you walk clockwise, against the flow of traffic on the inside ring road, following the moat, you are less likely to be harassed by Tuk Tuk drivers.

The Ka Tam Corner at the southeast is the first real landmark, with its fountains. Chiang Mai Gate comes next, with its fruit and vegetable market. The market is opposite Wua Lai Road is also a 'walking street' market on Saturday evenings. Keeping on the wall walk you will pass a couple of residential Soi before reaching Suan Prung Gate followed by the Nong Buak Haad Public Park with its lakes, lawns and tree shaded areas, popular with local Thais that want to relax and maybe feed the fish. You can buy fish pellets from vendors just inside the second gate. Ku Huang Corner comes next where you turn northward to Suan Dok Gate and Hua Lin Corner where we head eastwards where opposite Wat Lok Molee outside the moat we have a run of three working Wats: Mantian, Kuan Kha Ma and Mor Kham Tuamg, before Chang Puak Gate. Then we are heading for Sri Phum Corner and Sompet Market, one of several fresh markets within the walls. If you walk up the small lane at the center of the market, you'll pass around the back of Wat Lam Chang and come to Wat Chiang Man, one of the oldest original temples in the Chiang Mai old city. Just before reaching the Tha Pae Gate you will see Wat Dok Ueang (Dokkham).

There's much more to see actually inside the old city. If you follow the above walking tour, you will no doubt see other things worth investigating. There are plenty of places along the route to buy water or other beverages so there is no need to carry anything heavy with you.

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