Like so many places around the world, Chiang Mai is facing our own set of environmental challenges, most notable our annual air pollution crisis.
With over 80% of Thailand’s forests having been destroyed over the past half-century, much of it in the north, issues of deforestation, water resource management, forest fires and poor management of national resources, along with big agriculture and all of its pitfalls, are causing great concern for many Chiang Mai citizens.
The good news is that Chiang Mai, being a seat of learning with over half a dozen universities, as well as having a long history of activism, is fighting back. Protests, grassroots organisations, volunteers, community groups, even corporations are beginning to mobilise to fight to redress this decades-long disrespect and pilfering of Chiang Mai’s environment.
That being said, apart from a few summer months of the year between March and May, Chiang Mai is surrounded by spectacular nature. Drive out of the city in any direction and within half an hour you will find yourself in a lush green tropical forest, sitting by a waterfall, entering a national park or visiting a restaurant or café nestled amidst nature. Chiang Mai people love the outdoors and take advantage of its abundance with a variety of activities.
Being surrounded by mountains also means that there are places to go with cooler temperatures throughout the year and upcountry drives afford breathtaking vistas and adventures.