Lanna tradition and digital modernity hand in hand

No skyline (Photo Faszination Fernost/B. Linnhoff)

The kingdom of Lan Na (land of millions of paddy fields) experienced its heyday in the 15th century, and the capital Chiang Mai remains shaped by this era to this day, in culture and atmosphere. Only the Covid pandemic slowed down the successful efforts to anchor the city in the modern age and still keep the tradition visible. Digital nomads from all over the world love this place where they can do their job with a fast internet connection and a view of one of the beautiful Buddhist temples. While sipping a flat white with relish – Chiang Mai is now the coffee capital of Southeast Asia.

Nobody knows exactly whether 350,000 people live here or 500,000. It is undisputed that Thailand’s second largest city is popular with locals and tourists alike. As in Bangkok, you can find everything you need for everyday life at a more relaxed pace and with nature at your doorstep. In addition, inexpensive street food, the most beautiful markets and a lively art scene. So is there anything at all that speaks against Chiang Mai? Temporarily yes.

Every year between March and May the air becomes toxic. The farmers in the mountains burn rubbish and crop residues. This is the most simple explanation of what is actually a complex network of backgrounds. Politicians don’t seem to care when Chiang Mai hits the headlines as the world’s No. 1 in air pollution. But more and more expats are fed up and leave the city. The tourists only come for a few days at smog season to glimpse through thick fog.

Watching the pictures, there is no doubt: Chiang Mai is a fascinating place.