Well laid out displays
Along with the Lanna Folklife Centre, the excellent Chiang Mai Historical Centre is a relatively new museum addition to Chiang Mai’s offerings and is well worth an hour or so of your time.
The history of northern Thailand and Chiang Mai is a long one. The Lanna and Thai period dates back a mere 700 years or so, but before that the region was home to a network of Mon and Lawa settlements and prior to that, evidence of prehistoric occupation goes back several thousand years. This museum gives you a brief walk through of all eras, with an understandable bias towards the Lanna period.
There are plenty of dioramas and waxwork displays, although some of the interactive elements weren’t working too well when we visited. Explanations, as with the Lanna Folklife Museum, are good and generally well translated, and displays are well laid out. Unlike the Folklife Centre, the Historical Centre building is brand new and in what you might call a contemporary Lanna style. Rather aptly, during construction of the new building, remains of an ancient temple were discovered underneath and these have been preserved as an exhibit in the basement. The former palace is thought to have been located close by and these are probably remains of the associated royal temple.
Perhaps taking into account a decline in visitor attention spans, explanations are brief and light on text, with plenty of maps and images—making this perhaps a better bet with smaller kids and the easily bored.
While the Chiang Mai National Museum is a worthy establishment, the Historical Centre has the advantage of being purpose built and does have a more modern feel to it. While there is some overlap between the two, history and culture buffs will benefit from visiting both museums.
Chiang Mai Historical Centre is not a large museum and an hour should do the trick for all but the most detail orientated.
Address: Prapokklao Rd
T: (053) 217 793;
Coordinates (for GPS): 98º59'9.96" E, 18º47'25.28" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: 90 baht for adults, 40 baht for kids
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.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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