Photo: Map not to scale!

Chiang Mai Historical Centre

Our rating:

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.

Leafy setting. Photo taken in or around Chiang Mai Historical Centre , Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Leafy setting. Photo: Mark Ord

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.

In the museum and in the fields today. Photo taken in or around Chiang Mai Historical Centre , Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

In the museum and in the fields today. Photo: Mark Ord

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.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to support independent travel writing on Southeast Asia, please subscribe to Travelfish—it’s just A$35 per year (less than A$1 per week)!

By .

Start planning your holiday today

Sent every Monday, our newsletter is full of travel advice, news & special deals. Read past issues.


Chiang Mai Historical Centre
Prapokklao Rd
Tu–Su: 08:30–17:00
T: (053) 217 793
Admission: 90 baht for adults, 40 baht for kids

Location map for Chiang Mai Historical Centre

Popular attractions in Chiang Mai

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Chiang Mai.

Best places to stay in Chiang Mai

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Chiang Mai.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Chiang Mai.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Chiang Mai.
 Check out our listings of other things to do in and around Chiang Mai.
 Read up on how to get to Chiang Mai, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Chiang Mai? Please read this.
 Browse tours in Thailand with Tourradar.

See below for more sights and activities in Chiang Mai that are listed on

Top of page

Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Chiang Mai? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Thailand.

Top of page