Despite its expanding, modern suburbs, the old, moated, low-rise core of Thailand’s second city retains the ambience of a traditional market town. Numerous antique houses survive in the winding back lanes of its old quarter, along with a bumper crop of elegant wats dating from the era when this was the capital of the Lan Na kingdom. One legacy of the old trade with China is Chiang Mai’s bustling night market – among the most atmospheric of its kind anywhere in Asia, and a great source of textiles, jewellery and other handicrafts from across the north.
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