Festivals of Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai's location in a large valley surrounded by mountains plays host to an incredible array of flower species. The tropical valley climate is perfect for orchids and the high-altitude areas for carnations and other species that prefer a cool climate. The rich diversity of Chiang Mai's flora was the reason it got the name "Rose of the North".
Chiang Mai's flower festival first ran in 1977 and was such a hit that it became an annual event. The most significant feature of the flower festival is the float parade.
Each float is a work of art, using each shade of color specially arranged to form patterns, pictures or words. There is also the usual beauty contest and traditional performances and paraphernalia, although the overall flavor is different from Loy Kratong
Another, and perhaps more authentic, place to enjoy Loy Kratong is the much smaller town of Chiang Dao, about 80 km from Chiang Mai. The celebrations are nowhere near as grand as in Chiang Mai but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in terms of authenticity.
As well as the usual fireworks and floating receptacles it also features a beauty contest, Thai boxing, traditional dancing and singing and also has a procession. Loy Kratong in Chiang Dao is worth checking out if you prefer a more "homey" atmosphere.
Chiang Mai Classic Khantoke Dinner
"Khantoke" is a word from the local dialect, a compound noun for a kind of wooden serving tray. It stands on legs about 50 cm high and is usually lacquered for effect. The tray and the height are tailored to fit the traditional Khantoke eating positions, which are the cross-legged "lotus" position for the men and legs folded to one side for women.
According to Lanna culture (and many other places in Asia) these are considered polite sitting positions. Sound like you need to be double jointed to enjoy a Khantoke dinner? Don't worry, the positions are very easy to attain, and if you have any difficulty then chairs are readily available. Luckily, the modern Khantoke experience takes into account that westerners might not be as supple as their Thai counterparts.