Chiang Mai's museum district

An overview of the offerings

What we say: 4 stars

With the recent opening of several new museums in Chiang Mai, the part of the old town around the Three Kings Monument and along Phrappokklao Road is fast becoming something of a historical hub.

The 3 kings themselves

The three kings themselves.

This was formerly the administrative centre for the city, (and indeed location of the now disappeared palace of the kings of Chiang Mai), but with the move to purpose-built locations in the suburbs, the splendid old municipal buildings have been re-invented as museums and exhibition centres. Here’s a brief rundown of what you’ll find.

This part of town’s probably best known as the “Three Kings area” after the famous statue of King Mengrai and his two buddies, King Ramkamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Phayao who supposedly helped him to establish his new city of Chiang Mai back in the 13th century. The statue is located right in front of the former Provincial Hall which has now been converted to the Chiang Mai City Arts and Culture Centre, one of the museums we mentioned earlier.

The old provincial hall

The old provincial hall.

Behind the Arts and Culture Centre is the brand new Chiang Mai Historical Museum, housed in a tasteful, purpose-built home, while opposite across Prapokklao Road is the Lanna Heritage Museum.

Lanna Heritage

Lanna Heritage.

This is another splendid old building, this time the former city courthouse and a brand new museum opened only at the beginning of 2013.

We found all these museums to be excellent and well worth visits. The three museums are within a minute’s walk of each other while a fourth we found within the same circumference was an odd little museum in the car park of Wat Inthakin Saduemuang on adjacent Intawararot Road. The wat, named after the city pillar which was originally thought to be located here, is a pretty little temple oddly located in the middle of the road. (We assume the wat was there before the road.)

Wat Inthakhin Saduemuang

Wat Inthakhin Saduemuang.

We couldn’t quite work out what it was a museum of, since it was just called ‘Museum’ and contained practically no exhibits as such but just a series of friezes of events in local history.

While we’re on Intawararot Road you may recall this is the street we previously recommended for its excellent local food shops which, we’re guessing, may have originally been set up to provide lunch for the municipal office workers.

All in all, this is an interesting area of Chiang Mai to while away a couple of hours and creating this museum quarter in the centre of the old town is a commendable initiative by Chiang Mai city council.

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Chiang Mai old city
Last updated: 11th October, 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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