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About the Chiang Mai, Thailand Program

The Chiang Mai program is a USAC Specialty Program. Learn more about on-site program elements and the city itself below.

About Chiang Mai

Three students exploring a night market in Chiang Mai, Thailand.Three students in front of a Thai temple (wat) in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

  • Distance from Bangkok: 362 miles
  • Distance from Phuket: 754 miles

Known as the “Rose of the North,” Chiang Mai is located on the Ping River in Northern Thailand and dates back over 700 years. Surrounded by high mountain ranges, it is in one of the most scenic areas in the country. Unlike most of Thailand, the climate in the north—and especially in Chiang Mai—can be cooler, with rain and mist, but it still has tropical heat and humidity.

A city of cultural, trading, and economic prominence for hundreds of years, Chiang Mai is host to many historical and cultural landmarks. There are more than 700 temples in Chiang Mai alone.

The famous “night market” is a sprawling tourist attraction that offers all sorts of trinkets, local handicrafts, food shops, and shows. Its tiny passageways and colorful booths are great fun to explore, however there are many side streets of shops and restaurants away from the touristy zone where local cuisine can be found.

Near the city, there are national parks and nature preserves, including the highest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanon, Obkhan, and Doi Pui Suthep National Park. Located just outside of town, Wat Doi Suthep Buddhist temple overlooks the city—and Chiang Mai University—from the top of Doi Pui Suthep.