With a history dating back 700 years, Chiang Mai certainly has some stories to tell. Be sure to add a visit to the Chiang Mai National Museum on your Northern Thailand itinerary to get a good grounding in the region’s fascinating past. Operated by the Fine Arts Department of Thailand, this place focuses primarily on the ancient Kingdom of Lanna and its historic influences on today’s Chiang Mai.
History buffs and curious travellers alike will find a visit to this charming museum intriguing. The main museum for the entire region of Northern Thailand, this place traces the fascinating history of Chiang Mai back to prehistoric times. Expect lessons in the geographic history of the region and the early Neolithic settlements that called this place home. The major focus, though, is on the stories and influences of Lanna culture. In fact, the building itself showcases Lanna architecture, which sets the scene for what lays inside.
Founded by King Mangrai, the mighty Lanna Kingdom ruled Northern Thailand, along with parts of modern-day Burma and Laos, from the 13th century to the 18th century. The unique mix of lifestyles and influences from across the kingdom is what has given present-day Chiang Mai its own flavour; from its cuisine to its customs, this region is distinctly different from other parts of Thailand. The museum also looks at the region’s history following the collapse of the Lanna Kingdom, including Chiang Mai’s inclusion in the Kingdom of Siam and later becoming part of Thailand. A definite highlight of any visit is the museum’s display of rare artefacts that includes ancient Buddhist icons in all styles, items of pottery, early tools, handmade textiles, ceramic objects, gold jewellery and antique currency.
The Chiang Mai National Museum is open to visitors from Wednesday to Sunday from 9am until 4pm. It’s closed Mondays, Tuesdays and public holidays. As it’s not far from the Wat Jed Yod temple, an itinerary that includes both attractions will provide a culturally rich experience.