Plans are afoot for the old moated city. More cobbled roads are being planned to lend the Old City an air of history, more unsightly wires are about to be buried to keep modernity at bay, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep has just renovated the navel of the city shrine (the gilded viharn jutting out into the road next to the Three Kings Monument), the Chiang Mai Municipality officially opened up the Lanna Folklife Museum and the Chiang Mai Historical Centre, the World Bank will soon fund the renovation and upgrade of the Three Kings Monument square, and the Women’s Correctional Institution is being moved out of the city to be replaced by either another museum or a park. The Historical Zone of Chiang Mai, first conceptualised by ex Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Mayor Boonlert Buranupakorn eight years ago, is finally being realised.
“We want visitors to come to the Old City, rent a bicycle, and spend their day riding around learning about Lanna arts, history and culture, admiring architecture, sampling local food and enjoying a professionally run, informative and interactively fun experience,” said Tassanai Buranupakorn, Lord Mayor of Chiang Mai.
The mayor is also introducing a strict new zoning law for the city centre which will control the colour, height, and even designs of buildings. “We are hoping that people will comply for the sake of the city, but if not we will have the law behind us. We want buildings to be unique, but respectful of Lanna heritage. We will even control the proliferation of signs and billboards,” he expanded.
A budget of over 100 million baht has been used to convert the old courthouse in front of the Three Kings Monument into the Lanna Folklife Museum, as well as construct a new building behind the existing City Arts and Cultural Centre to house the Chiang Mai Historical Centre. While the information provided is bite-sized, it is prettily packaged and infused with the essence of Lanna…or at least the idealised interpretation of such essence. These museums, while not ground-breaking, should add to the tourism lustre of Chiang Mai, and be a fine addition to the city’s growing tourist attractions.
While there will soon be group passes for all of these museums, at this point, tickets cost 20 baht for a Thai adult, 90 baht for a foreign adult; 10 baht for a Thai child and 40 baht for a foreign child. Open 8.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.
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