Chiang Mai, Thailand
GETTING AROUND CHIANG MAI
In recent years Chiang Mai has become an increasingly modern city, although it lacks the cosmopolitan gloss of Bangkok. It has many attractions for the thousands of foreign visitors who come to the city each year. Chiang Mai's historic strength derived from its important strategic location near a southern branch of the ancient Silk Road, and long before the modern influx of foreign visitors the city served as an important centre for handcrafted goods, umbrellas, jewellery (particularly silver) and woodcarving.
Chiang Mai Province has an estimated population of about 1.6 million, with some 6-700,000 living in the city of Chiang Mai. The population figures vary a lot: some think that only people living in the "Central District" (Amphoe Muang) of Chiang Mai must be counted as city residents, but Chiang Mai has an undoubted case of suburban sprawl. Is a person living in Mae Jo, or Hang Dong, to be counted as a "resident of Chiang Mai city?" Similar questions apply to New York, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. At the end of the day, however, it is pretty easy to tell when you are in the city of Chiang Mai (pop. 700,000), and when you are out in the sticks of Chiang Mai Province (pop. 1,600,000).
Beyond all doubt, however, the city is growing rapidly, as it has been perceived as the most liveable city in all of Asia.