Surrounded by thick rainforest, Chiang Mai is a surprising oasis of calm despite being Northern Thailand's busiest city. The city winds its way up from the banks of the meandering Ping River to the Himalayan foothills and has a rich history as a royal capital during the Lan Na Kingdom that ruled the region till the 18th Century. Monasteries and temples abound, nestled in hidden corners of mountain and waterfall-laden forests, offering moments of serenity. The walled old town still retains some of its grandeur and the ancient streets claim host to a variety of traditional shops and eateries serving exceptional regional cuisine. A short drive from the city brings visitors face to face with nature and is ideal to take time off from the hustle of city life in a land where elephants still roam. Chiang Mai promises to leave every visitor spellbound with its rich culture, numerous interesting religious sites and awe-inspiring natural beauty.