An Insider’s Guide to Tha Pae Gate: Chiang Mai’s Historic Landmark

An Insider’s Guide to Tha Pae Gate

Tha Pae Gate serves as the entrance to Bangkok’s old town and serves as an important focal point during festivals, such as Flower Festival in February and Songkarn or Thai New Year festivities in April.

Attracting both local and international travelers alike, this destination satisfies a diverse array of interests including architecture and history enthusiasts, artifact collectors, natural explorers and foodies alike.

The History

Tha Phae Gate was constructed as part of Chiang Mai’s 13th-century city walls to protect it from Mongol and Burmese armies threatening invasion; at that time it became necessary to erect square-shaped city walls surrounded by walls and moats to provide security from invasion attempts by Mongol and Burmese forces; therefore the Tha Phae Gate (commonly referred to as Chiang Ruak Gate) became one of the main entrances into its walled city.

Today, the Gate is an iconic tourist attraction and hub of activity that epitomizes Chiang Mai culture. Situated along Moon Muang Road, it hosts some of Chiang Mai’s premier hotels, restaurants and shops while simultaneously hosting cultural festivals like Chiang Mai Flower Festival in February and Loy Krathong.

The gate features intricate carvings depicting scenes from Buddhist mythology and religious symbols, along with two pillars flanking it decorated with Naga (serpent) sculptures found throughout Southeast Asian folklore and believed to bring good luck. Furthermore, festive occasions bring festive illumination from nightfall onto this bridge that spans the moat; particularly stunning when lit.

At one time, the gate served as both a key military defense point and traffic controller in the city. Once guarded by armed soldiers who stopped and searched visitors before they entered the city proper. However, this practice was abandoned in the 1950s as residents prioritized security over privacy; today it stands as one of the city’s landmarks open to all.

The Architecture

Tha Pae Gate stands out with its bright red bricks and arches; one of the oldest, best preserved gates from old city walls. Constructed under King Mengrai as part of his capital plan in 1296 as an emblematic gate and protection against invaders, it now represents Mula (prosperity). Each of its eight main gates had their own orientation relative to each compass point – Tha Pae represents Mula (prosperity).

Tha Phae gate serves as the hub of tourism in Chiang Mai. Here you will find boutique hotels, budget hostels and numerous restaurants – not to mention an expansive public square that hosts events year-round from lantern lighting at Loy Kratong to water fights during Songkran!

Inside of the gate are ornate carvings depicting scenes from Buddhist mythology and religious symbols, and an ornate bridge crosses over its moat – often lined with traditional Naga (serpent) sculptures for festive occasions.

Food lovers enjoy coming here as well, with restaurants and vendors selling local dishes and snacks. As the square is wide open to sunlight, midmorning temperatures can become scorchingly hot; thankfully there are numerous trees for visitors to shade themselves from direct sunlight while taking in the view.

Tha Phae Gate can be found at the eastern edge of Chiang Mai’s Old City between Rachadamnoen Road (which runs west into its walls) and Tha Phae Road – not too difficult to locate, this gateway serves as an essential landmark.

The Square

Thapae Gate and its adjacent square have become the epicenter of tourism in Chiang Mai over time, featuring more hotels, restaurants, bars and massage parlours than anywhere else in old town. Furthermore, Thapae Gate hosts various events and festivals throughout the year from lantern lighting during Loy Kratong to water fights at Songkran.

This gate takes its name from its location between the Ping River and its main harbour region for rafts, known as “phraya in Thai.” The outer wall features protective elements like small openings for archers to shoot their arrows out through and strategically-placed vantage points that offer surveillance over potential threats.

At the time of its construction, the city was under serious threat from invaders; its walls not only provided decorative protection; they served as an effective defence mechanism against Mongol invaders as well as warring parties from neighboring Burma countries such as Thailand. Furthermore, its inner wall featured tall structures with niches to help people hide should an attack come.

On an historic glass plate photo from 1902, there are trees outlined against an old wall and a low single-story house just beyond. Today, all homes have become larger and newer; but visitors can still explore within these old walls to gain a glimpse into life from centuries past.

Popular activities here include taking photos with the gate’s plaque while hundreds of pigeons fly all around you, sometimes with professional pigeon spookers helping out for that perfect shot. Some may hire an energetic bird-spooker who can unsettle them, although it would be wiser not to feed the birds as this will attract pests and diseases that might make life unpleasant for others nearby.

The Market

Tha Phae Gate is an exhilarating hub of shops, restaurants and cafes that attracts both locals and visitors for major events like Yi Peng and Loy Kratong. Additionally, its plaza and gates serve as open spaces prone to sunshine and heat; plan ahead by bringing sunscreen and an umbrella!

Market stalls that line this ancient city gate sell clothing and cooking utensils as well as souvenirs that go beyond typical tourist junk. While not focused on ready-to-eat meals per se, there is also a food court within its main plaza which features traditional Chiang Mai cuisine such as Khao Soi and Chiang Mai sausage dishes.

Visit this market any night of the week, but Sunday or Saturday night markets offer the best experience – you won’t just experience typical retail therapy; these markets provide more like a sensory and culinary journey that’ll have you tasting, buying, and trying something new than ever before!

Stalls in Patong Beach can be found everywhere, with several side streets joining in the fun. At first, this array of items and foods may seem overwhelming; take your time moving from vendor to vendor tasting as many different things as possible before purchasing anything new that catches your eye! Be prepared with cash as many vendors don’t accept credit cards.

The Activities

Tha Phae Gate area of Chiang Mai serves as the epicenter of tourism, housing more hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, massage parlours and shops than anywhere else in the city. Furthermore, it also plays host to some of its most beloved events and activities as well.

Daily you’ll find a permanent market here that is open both morning and evening, unlike most tourist markets. These stalls differ in that they are created onsite by artisans using traditional techniques – this could include weaver, potters or metalworkers creating old fashioned household goods and clothing using authentic craftsmanship onsite – instead of being mass produced from overseas suppliers at other markets. Prices here won’t compare but products here will definitely stand out as authentic and have higher quality than elsewhere!

Outside the permanent market is a large public space that often plays host to events, bands and ceremonies – such as Sunday Night Market. At other times during the year you might find it packed with people attending one of Chiang Mai’s festivals or religious processions.

As with other popular tourist spots, Tha Pae Gate can become overrun during peak times, so arriving early is recommended in order to avoid large crowds and pickpockets. Also be wary of pickpockets; keep valuables safe. Those interested in learning more can book one of the guided tours, or use GPSmyCity app’s self-guided feature and explore Chiang Mai on their own!