International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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Congress Logo 33rd World Vegetarian Congress
Chiang Mai, Thailand, January 4 - 10, 1999
'Vegetarianism is the Way'
an unforgettable visual, cultural and gastronomic experience

Chiang Mai, the ancient capital of Lanna Thai (Kingdom of One Million Rice Fields), the first independent Thai Kingdom in the fabled Golden Triangle, is the second largest city of modern Thailand and is nicknamed the Rose of the North.

Located in a privileged fertile valley, 700 kilometres north of Bangkok and some 300 metres above sea level, this northern city and its province are regarded by many Thais as a national Shangri-la, thanks to the invigorating climate, with temperate fruits such as apples, peaches and strawberries as well as oranges, and lychees, its scenic beauty and distinctive festivals, and the rich history of its magnificent temples, dating back to the founding of the city in 1296.

map of Chiang Mai
Street map of Chiang Mai city center: the old city is inside the blue moat (about 1 mile across), Red dots are temples. The modern downtown is to the right of this map outside the moat and the rest of the city extends well beyond the map.

The modern city of Chiang Mai is truly a shoppers' and fruit lovers' paradise, where visitors can buy fine woodcarvings and unique indigenous handicrafts, lacquerware, ceramics and the beautiful colourful umbrellas produced in the region, while sampling one of its most important products, the local fruits and vegetables enjoyed all over Thailand.

Geographical features: 63 per cent. of the area of Chiang Mai is covered with mountains, the highest peak, Doi Inthanon, rising 2,563 metres above sea level. The Mae Ping River is the main waterway, with other smaller streams and many picturesque waterfalls.

buddhist monks
Buddhist monks
Population: The human population of the region is over one and a half million people, with more than one hundred seventy thousand residents living in the Municipality of Chiang Mai. It is a land of warm hospitality and natural wealth which still retains its traditional charm and rich centuries-old culture.

Religion: There are 1,087 Bhuddist temples for the area's 95 per cent. Bhuddist population, plus 4 mosques and 106 churches.

Climate: There are three seasons in the year:

  • the rainy season from June to October
  • the hot season from March to May
  • the cool season from November to February.
The weather is generally refreshing, with temperatures throughout the year varying between 14 and 30 degreesC., while the average temperature is 26.2 degreesC.

Early January is the peak of the tourist season in Thailand, with European spring like weather conditions (15 - 22 degreesC. / 59 -72 degreesF), with dry and pleasant sunny days. Light shirts or blouses are sufficient, with a jacket or sweater in the evening.

Buddhas at Doi Suthep Temple