Often referred to as the ‘Rose of the North’, Chiang Mai is the economic and cultural centre of Northern Thailand and the focus of tourism within the region. Located about 700 kilometres from Bangkok, it is one of Thailand’s better known and most visited provinces. Originally the capital of the Lanna Thai kingdom created by King Mengrai in 1296, the province has a played a major part in the development of the country. Situated on the Mae Ping River and around 310 metres above sea level, Chiang Mai is one of the kingdom’s most beautiful provinces, featuring mountain ranges and hills amidst lush greenery and jungle. Climate conditions in the area can create swirls of mist and fog in winter – an unusual sight in a tropical country. The province’s numerous national parks are extremely fertile, have an abundance of flowers, and support a broad range of wildlife (the area is particularly associated with elephants). The province is also famed as being a home to numerous tribal peoples and visits to tribal villages are a key component of the area’s tourism. Some of the main attractions in the area include Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and Doi Intanon – Thailand’s biggest mountain.