Photo: Ancient eyes.

Chiang Mai National Museum

Our rating:

Re-opened in mid-2017 after a welcome makeover, Chiang Mai National Museum is a worthwhile sight that also deserves to get more than the trickle of visitors it seems to receive at present.

Located on the ring road, or Superhighway, close to Wat Jet Yot, the National Museum is Chiang Mai’s oldest museum and once tended towards the stuffy side in comparison to the Historical Centre that opened more recently in the town centre.

Lanna period submarine... Photo taken in or around Chiang Mai National Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Lanna period submarine... Photo: Mark Ord

Post-2017 renovation however, it re-opened with a better layout, improved lighting and better explanations, along with a few more interactive displays. They also thankfully did away with their unnecessary camera ban. While the museum isn’t a huge affair, it is large enough and provides an easy-to-follow and succinct outline of the northern city’s history from prehistoric times through to the 20th century.

The displays are divided into six sections: Background to Lanna, History of the Lanna Kingdom, Trade and Economy of Lanna, Lanna Art, Chiang Mai as part of Siam and Chiang Mai Today. Features include some not overly kitsch dioramas of various battles with Burma or the taking of Haripunchai for example, and lots of interesting period photos and paintings of the Lanna royal family.

Remains from archeological digs. Photo taken in or around Chiang Mai National Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Remains from archeological digs. Photo: Mark Ord

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 decent visit. If however you plan to examine every axe-head and Lanna coin, you could easily spend a full day here.

The day’s guest list seemed to have only around 15 names when we visited, which is a shame. 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 the city, old Lanna kingdom and the region.

Impressive Buddha footprint. Photo taken in or around Chiang Mai National Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Impressive Buddha footprint. Photo: Mark Ord

The museum is slightly out of town, but the location makes it perfect for combining with a visit to nearby Wat Jet Yot or as a stop on your way to or from Doi Suthep.

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How to get there
The museum is around 500m north of Wat Jet Yot on the same side of the highway. A tuk tuk from town should set you back 150 baht or so but try and organise a return trip since there’s not so many tuk tuks out this way.

Chiang Mai National Museum
Superhighway, Suthep
We–Su: 09:00–16:00
T: (053) 221 308 
Admission: 100 baht for foreigners, 40 for kids

Location map for Chiang Mai National Museum

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