Chiang Mai: Once a quaint walled city surrounded by mountains and mystical legends, Chiang Mai has become a dynamic and modern city, while still maintaining much of its rich history and cultural traditions.  This relatively small city houses more than 300 temples, nearly as many as Bangkok, and this profusion has made the old city centre both alluring for travelers, and visually striking.
Along with Chiang Mai's rapid growth have come some side effects such as traffic congestion and  pollution, but that hasn’t stopped the 5 million or so visitors that flock here each year, including about 2 million foreign tourists. The city's popularity has also made it a contender to host the World Expo 2020, and Thailand`s only tourist destination to have made Trip Advisors 2012  list of "The 25 Best Destinations in the World".
The city's vast collection of Buddhist temples include the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, which dates from 1383, and is the city's most famous temple, and the Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai`s oldest temple. Built in the 13th century, the temple houses two of Thai Buddhism's most important Buddha figures.
In addition to its religious landmarks  Chiang Mai also features fantastic handicraft shopping, delicious food and a convenient proximity to many natural treasures including  Doi Inthanon National Park, home to Thailand's highest mountain; Doi Pui Suthep National Park which is just outside of town, and excursions to visit the local hill tribes in their natural environment are also very popular amongst international travelers.
Chiang Mai has a huge inventory of luxurious 4 and 5 star hotels, while Thai-style boutique hotels are popping up along with trendy bars and restaurants that add to the city's hipness factor which somehow coexists alongside the more traditional cultural backdrop of the city.
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