Local traditions and culture in Chiang Mai

  • Flower basket out of banana leaves
    Flower basket out of banana leaves
    by iammon
  • one of the little rascals
    one of the little rascals
    by HasTowelWillTravel
  • One of the participants of Miss Krathong
    One of the participants of Miss Krathong
    by Tedsocoa

Most Viewed Local Customs in Chiang Mai

  • Willettsworld's Profile Photo

    Wat Suan Dok - Music

    by Willettsworld Written Nov 28, 2009

    When I visited this temple, which is located about 1km west of the city walls, a small group of musicians started playing traditional Thai instruments inside the main viharn. This was great to see and hear and I sat opposite them and took some video of them which you can find on my Chiang Mai page.

    Suthep Rd

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    MONKEYS.....FOR FOOD.....or.....PETS?

    by balhannah Updated Aug 21, 2009

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    When visiting and Akha village, make sure you keep your eyes open when wandering around the Village, as you never know what you might see!

    At the Village we visited, we saw Monkeys chained underneath the house.
    Our guide told us that these could either be Pets, or they could be for eating.

    Chained Monkeys in the village

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    TEAK TREES

    by balhannah Written Aug 20, 2009

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    On my tour to Doi Inthanon National Park, I noticed a lot of Trees that I hadn't seen before.

    On asking my guide what they were, she told me they were Teak Trees.

    They can grow to 30 meters tall with a trunk diameter of 180 cms and are leafless from January to April. The stem bark is taken for diarrhea and the timber is highly valued because of its durability and resistance to termites.

    The teak tree forests that once covered the Northern Thailand landscape around Chiang Mai were the workhouses not only for the timber loggers but also for the elephants and their handlers (mahouts) who had to drag the felled trees away for processing. With the banning of the teak tree logging many handlers and their elephants were left without a means of income.

    Despite the depletion of teak stocks that has followed, Thailand still has some stands of the hardwood, and one or two giant specimens can still be found in the North.
    On my travels around this area, I saw a lot of Teak Forests.

    Teak Trees in Doi Inthanon National Park
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    • National/State Park

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    WAT CHEDI LUANG MONK CHAT

    by balhannah Written Aug 13, 2009

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    If you want to learn about the Monks and Buddhism, then you can do so here at Wat Chedi Luang.
    You can have a free 'Monk Chat' from 1 to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday.

    The point of the monk chat program is to enlighten foreign tourists about Buddhism and Buddha’s teachings. The program also gives the novices who are studying English in university a chance to practice and exchange information.

    There was a warning notice saying that there could be bad Monks................
    The Monk Chat Club wants to inform our foreign guests for your own benefit that you are advised to chat with the monk who carries his ID card only because he has passed proper training in Buddhist knowledge and manners.

    Young men, from age eight onward, can enter into the Buddhist system as a monk, taking on the robes for either a short time (a few weeks) or a lifetime.
    Typically, all male Buddhists in Thailand are encouraged to enter the monastery during the three month rainy season.

    The fact that the monkhood is not a lifetime commitment means that Thailand has not had a shortage of monks. At any given time there are some 300,000 monks. This number nearly doubles during the rainy season.

    There are several reasons why men or boys become monks:

    1. To make merit for their parents, especially their mothers who cannot legally become monks.
    2. To get an education and basic sustenance, as all needs of the monk are provided for by the laity and the government.
    3. Because they have an attraction to the basic principles of Buddhism and the practice of meditation. These monks tend to become forest monks instead of city monks.

    Other buildings in the compound include the Lanna campus of the Mahamakut Buddhist University

    Wat Chedi Luang is located in the middle of Chiang Mai, on the south side of Ratchadamnoen Road, at the junction with Phra Pok Klao

    Entrance to Wat Chedi Luang
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    • Religious Travel

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    MONKS & STRAY DOGS

    by balhannah Written Aug 13, 2009

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    On visiting Wat Chedi Luang, one of the things I noticed was the amount of stray dogs here.

    Actually, they look after the strays here, and there are a few donation boxes scattered around........as the donation box says, "It all started about ten years ago."
    Initially, students and friends helped care for the dogs. They fed, sterilized, treated mange, vaccinated….....and did what ever they could for them.

    Wat Chedi Luang has become a refuge for dogs, with estimations of anywhere from 60 -100 living here.
    At 6pm, every evening, they are fed.

    Just be careful when walking around, none were aggresive towards me, but later on in Bangkok I was bitten by a stray, and Rabies is still in Thailand.
    Luckily, for me, after a series on injections, I am alright.

    Stray dogs at Wat Chedi Luang

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    Water Festival

    by Gili_S Written Jun 3, 2008

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    Every year on April there is the Water Festival, at that time of the yeast when it is very hot everyone just celebrating. However, I was a bit early for this festival, bust some started already to party.

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  • HasTowelWillTravel's Profile Photo

    Geckos Abound

    by HasTowelWillTravel Updated May 29, 2008

    In any given restaurant or guest house, you're bound to see tiny green geckos flitting all over the outside walls and ceilings. Don't be alarmed.

    These little guys work to eat the mosquitos that abound in the tropical zone. They are quite useful, and fun to watch scurry around the place. So don't be afraid, welcome them into your room. You might be glad you did.

    one of the little rascals

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    Loi Krathong

    by iammon Written Apr 5, 2008

    This is a festival (best celebrated in the North) where the Thais thank the godness of water. Therefore the main activities are centred along rivers, lakes and canals. Krathong means raft. So all the Thais put small lotus-shaped baskets containing flowers, candels and money in the water at night. Big communes or companies have big rafts floating on the rivers. They are shown to the public during the day in the center of town. In Chiang Mai the Thais get crazy with fireworks as well. The also launch lots of paper hot-air ballons into the sky. It is very croweded close to the river and acctually a bit dangerous as well as they light the fireworks in the middle of the crowds. The latter at night the more crazy it gets I guess. But you should not miss that fun! It is on a full moon night in November.

    Flower basket out of banana leaves Hot air balloons
    Related to:
    • Festivals

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  • Tedsocoa's Profile Photo

    LOI KRATHONG FESTIVAL

    by Tedsocoa Updated Apr 4, 2008

    When you are traveling in the month of November in Thailand, try to assist at the Loi Krathong Festival, falling on the 12 th Full Moon of the Lunar Calender. Last year, Nov. 2007, it was on Nov. 24th. But each year, the dates are varying, following the full moon.
    Normally this festival will last about one week with all the preparations. It is a symbolic act to leave in the river a Krathong, (bambou trunk, decorated with flowers and candles), which is floating (Loi) away to thank the riverwater for giving eat, drink, and live. Doing this, it brings good luck for the next season. Specially in Chiang Mai this festival is celebrated intensively, with school contests for the most beautiful Krathong, processions with splendid decorated cars, beauty contest for Miss Krathong etc.
    Fireworks are organised everywhere and the whole festival is a good reason for Thai people to have an excellent meal and going out. To buy and leaving an hot air balloon in the air with all wishes, brings also good luck.

    One of the participants of Miss Krathong Leaving a hot air balloon brings good luck. Schoolcontest for the most beautiful Krathong. Thai beauties preparing the Miss Krathong contest. Lampion-decorated Tha Phae Gate in Chiang Mai.
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Festivals
    • Women's Travel

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    One little motorbike!

    by thedouglas Updated Jun 8, 2006

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    You can't see it in this picture - but there's a little side-motorbike - or is this supposed to be the sidecart with the load! Definitely a rider in charge of the load! He took the corner with the greatest of ease, and continued down the road, amongst the traffic. I appeared to be the only one impressed by the sight!

    How much can a single motorcyle carry around
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    • Road Trip

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    Doggie fashion

    by thedouglas Updated Feb 16, 2006

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    We had a lot of laughs through Thailand, especially at the markets in Bangkok, at the array of doggy fashions! This delightful girl and her "friend" were driving alongside us in Chiang Mai, and more than happy to pose together for this shot, depicting girl and her best friend! Dog has pulled off his/her hood so we can get a good face shot! Decked out in a lovely ensemble!

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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    Loy Kratong Festival

    by Lyneke Written Jan 8, 2006

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    On fool moon in the 12th month of the year (around october - november) people celebrate Loy Kratong festival. They thank the godess of the water because they could use her water and they ask forgiveness of having poluted the water.

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    Tips for bargaining in Thailand

    by iNorv9 Written Dec 23, 2005

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    Bargaining is part of the culture in Thailand. The vast majority of markets and small stores not only allow it, but expect it. That said, there here are some quick tips to get you started:

    1) You can usually take about 30-50% of the original offer, so make your first offer below that range. This gives the impression of compromise when you eventually go up a little.

    2) Be patient: You may have to invest a couple minutes of negotiation and walk away once or twice.

    3) Shop around a bit first: Try to gauge the going market price to when you make your offer.

    4) Learn some basic Thai: it makes you seem a little more cultured and less like a free spending tourist.

    5) Most importantly, SMILE: Smiling is crucial - in Thailand it?s a sign of respect and shows that you're interested in having a civilized business conversation.

    Good bargaining takes practice. You may strike out the first few times, but stick with it and you?ll get some great deals.

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    Loi Krathong Festival Part VI

    by allthai Updated Nov 13, 2005

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    Kome Kwaen are also offered to pay respect, and prayers to Buddha images are made. There are several shapes of this certain lantern. They are the Baat Pra (Alms bowl), Dow (Star), Ta Gra (Basket), and Tammajak (the wheel of law, which means to have a thorough knowledge about religious discourses). The Buddhists will hang these lanterns around a temple, vihara, alms-house, sala, or house.

    The Kome Paad is an interesting lantern since it revolves on an axis. This is done with the aide of the heat from the candle's smoke. In order to make it revolve, the candle is placed inside the lantern where little gadgets take the energy from the smoke and then revolves. The lantern is shaped like a circle, almost like the earth. Usually there are pictures glued on, such as the 12 characters of the horoscope. This revolving lantern will give the effect of shadow puppets. Kome Paad can only be seen during the Yee Peng Festival. It is placed in the temple gates and is not allowed to be moved from one place to another.

    The Kome Loy is a lantern that is similar to a hot-air-balloon. It is also quite similar to that of a normal lantern except it does not require 24 candles for illumination. Because the air lantern must rise up to float in the air, it must be lightweight; therefore, it does not have a bamboo cylinder inside. In order to send the lantern into the air, it requires a method to heat the air. This is done by tying a small bowl underneath the open section of the lantern. Oil is then placed into the bowl along with a cotton cloth. As the oil catches fire and commences burning, the hot air quickly travels into the lantern and it soon rises into the air. See video at http://www.all-thailand-exp.com/images/LK.wmv

    Contiuned on Part VII

    The Loi Krathong festival night parade
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Festivals

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    Loi Krathong Festival Part VII

    by allthai Written Jun 19, 2005

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    It is believed that by sending off these lanterns an individual can send one's sins and bad luck into the air. Usually before the lantern soars into the sky, an individual will pray that one's sin or bad luck will be transported on the lantern and floated away high into the sky. Sometimes an address is left inside. The purpose of this is when the lantern come back down to the ground, and individual can follow an address and seek for money from whoever wrote the address. Or even sometimes, the maker will put some money inside the lantern. The purpose of the hot air lantern is to worship and pay respect to the Phra Ged Kaew Ju La Manee. An old legend tells that during war, these lanterns were sent into enemy territory and exploded.

    In Chiangmai, visitors will be treated to an air of festivity in the weeks leading up to Loy Krathong. People begin constructing their Krathong, a small raft to float down the river as an offering. They are traditionally cut in a circular slice from the trunk of a banana tree and decorated with intricate leaf-patterns and flowers.

    A candle, incense sticks and a few small coins are typically placed as offerings. Archways of banana stems suddenly appear outside homes and businesses, and hanging lanterns, or Kome, are hung anywhere possible. With their beautiful colors and delicate paper streamers, these lanterns glow with a warm charm in the night, along with yellow flames of thousands of miniature terra-cotta nightlights flickering on walls and gateposts in the city.

    While Kome are put up all over the city, hot-air balloons, or Kome Loy, are set off into the sky during the festivities. Be careful: there are also fireworks, and the locals often set off their own with no rhyme or reason. And there's a lot of drinking.

    The date of the festival changes from year to year, depending on the full moon of the Yee-Peng month, which is usually in November, but sometimes in late October.

    The Ping River and Chiang Mai at Loi Krathong
    Related to:
    • Festivals
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel

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Chiang Mai Local Customs

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