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Chiang Mai

Meaning 'new capital', Chiang Mai has been the cultural and administrative centre of northern Thailand on and off since 1296. At its heart are remnants of the medieval moated walled Old City, which was built to defend against Burmese invaders.

Surrounded by hills, the modern city of Chiang Mai lies at the base of the slopes of Mount Doi Suthep, which is home to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep: a sacred Buddhist site brimming with gilded stupas, rich jewel colours and intricate shrines. Climb the stairs here among beautifully-dressed local children from the nearby traditional hill tribe villages to be met by this magnificent temple complex and arguably the best panoramic views.

The rural areas encircling Chiang Mai offer many natural and cultural attractions; ranging from trekking through hilltribe villages, seeing village temples and beautiful sweeping hills, with rice paddies and tropical vegetation. Aside from these, the biggest draw of all is the handful of ethical elephant sanctuaries to be found here. Visit Patara Elephant Farm in Hang Dong City to interact with these gentle giants and embrace the chance to feed and wash them, which is sure to be a highlight of your trip. We also recommend travellers with an adventurous spirit to go bamboo rafting in Mae Wang National Park.

Within the city, cookery and massage schools can easily be enjoyed, giving you a different insight into Thai culture. Chiang Mai is also renowned as Northern Thailand's shopping capital with a wide range of crafts and textiles for sale in the buzzy night markets, bazaars and stalls. We recommend keeping an eye out for delicate silverware, leather goods and antiques, too.

The cool climate and lush landscape make Chiang Mai a marked change to the hotter climes of Bangkok and the beach resorts, so this location makes for an ideal addition to a bespoke itinerary in Thailand – especially if you are after a relaxed pace.

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There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.
Robert Louis Stevenson

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I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
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Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
Ampersand provided a bespoke and flexible holiday, tailored to my every whim. Their highly professional staff had only one goal which was to arrange an exceptional holiday and some unforgettable experiences in India. I have no hesitation in fully recommending them and they will be the first company I approach in the future - 10/10
- Anonymous, India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
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Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
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