Chiang Mai National Museum

Worth a stop

What we say: 3.5 stars

Chiang Mai’s National Museum, located on the ‘super-highway’ close to Wat Jet Yot, isn’t a huge museum but is nicely laid out, well lit and large enough to provide an easily followed and succinct outline of the northern city’s history from prehistoric times until the 20th century. In fact it’s a jolly good little museum and deserves to get more than the trickle of visitors it seems to get at the moment.

The National Museum

The Chiang Mai National Museum.

Apologise for the lack of interior photos, but photography inside the museum isn’t allowed so you’ll have to make do with a few of the outside.

The displays are divided into the following six sections:

* background to Lanna, including ecology, geography and prehistoric settlement;
* history of Lanna kingdom;
* trade and economy of Lanna;
* Lanna art;
* Chiang Mai as part of Siam; and
* Chiang Mai today.

Early Lanna submarine on display in the museum grounds

Early Lanna submarine on display in the museum grounds.

English explanations are abundant and comprehensible (which is more than you can say for many provincial museums), and we’d estimate allowing the best part of an hour for a comprehensive visit, unless you examine every axe-head and Lanna coin, in which case allow all day. There are also some not over-kitsch dioramas of various battles with the Burmese or the taking of Haripunchai and so on, and lots of interesting period photos and paintings of the Lanna royal family.

The day’s guest list seemed to have only around 15 names when we visited, so it’s a shame that, with so many people visiting the famous northern city of Chiang Mai, the majority would appear to leave oblivious of the rich and fascinating history of Lanna and the region.

Museum entrance

Museum entrance.


The museum is perfect for combining with a visit to nearby Wat Jet Yot or as a stop on your way to or from Doi Suthep.

More details
Super highway
Opening Hours: Wed-Sun 09:00-12:00, 13:00-16:00
How to get there: The museum is located beside Wat Chet Yot on the super highway.
Last updated: 20th September, 2013

About the author:
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
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Chiang Mai National Museum
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