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The traditional atmosphere of Chiang Mai’s old quarter, with its wooden shops and colourful market areas, have long made it a favourite stopover. But many travellers also come expressly to study Thai massage and cookery, as well as to shop (the place is awash with wonderful local handicrafts and textiles), while the many vibrant temples in the city create a special ambience. Foremost among them is the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, on the city’s weatern edge, whose golden spire shines from a hilltop which can climb to on foot via 300 steps or jump on a funicular railway to reach – either way, stupendous views are guaranteed.