Four luxury properties that showcase Thai architecture and design. Landscaping includes terraced rice paddies and pools.
Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi
51/4 Chiang Mai-Sankampaeng Road, 011-66-53-888-888, www.mandarinoriental.com,
is an extraordinary theme park of a resort on 60 landscaped acres about 20 minutes east of town that re-creates a range of Thai architectural styles -- from gilded Buddhist temple to wooden rice barn. It has swimming pools, tennis courts, four restaurants, a cooking academy and spa. Doubles from $450.
Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai
Mae Rim-Samoeng Old Road, Mae Rim, 011-66-53-298-181, www.fourseasons.com,
is a showcase for updated Lanna architecture, designed to suggest a village in the northern Thai foothills. Pavilion doubles start at $450.
6 Rachamankha 9, 011-66-53-904-111, www.rachamankha.com,
is a small, stunningly designed hotel on the quiet, west side of old Chiang Mai. Its courtyard layout was based on the chapel of a famous Thai temple in Lampang province and the decor is an Oriental- minimalist blend. Doubles from $171.
The Chedi Chiang Mai
123 Charoen Prathet Road,
T. Chang Klan, A. Muang, Chiang Mai; 011-66-53-253-333, www.ghmhotels.com,
is a striking new hotel on the Ping River near the Night Market. Doubles from $295.
Forget the airport souvenir stands. Chiang Mai's markets present an opportunity to take home a piece of the city's singular style. You can even get a foot massage if you're footsore from shopping.
Where to go: The famous Night Market just east of the moat starts up around 7 p.m. and keeps going until 11 or midnight. Immediately south, Anusarn market is strong on clothing and fabrics.
Warawot Market near the footbridge over the Ping River has astonishing foodstuffs and flowers.
Sundays bring a touristy market to Ratchmankha in the old town, along with street-side foot massage concessions, buskers and fast-food stands.
ART, ANTIQUES AND TEXTILES
Some of Chaing Mai's best art, antiques and textiles can be found in villages and in historic Chinese shop houses.
FOLK CRAFT VILLAGES
Where to go: To the west of the city are Bo Sang umbrella village, Ban Ton Pao mulberry paper village and San Kamphaeng, at right, known for weaving. To the south are the Hang Dong antiques market and Pasang, where weavers specialize in cotton fabrics.
Several of the city's best art, antiques and design shops are clustered at the eastern end of Tha Phae Road, including Living Space, which features lacquer; Siam Celadon; and Lost Horizons, a Southeast Asian tribal arts specialist. Another upscale design hub is Charoenrat Road, where home-decor stores such as Sop Moei Arts, Vila Cini and Oriental Style display their wares in Chinese shop houses. TreeHouse, 152 Charoenrat Road, has salvaged architectural details from old Thai houses. Nimmanhaemin Road on the northwest of the city has galleries and design shops, such as the very contemporary Wit's Collection and eclectic Suriyan Chandra, which features the work of artist Anan Saithong.
-- Susan Spano