Chiang Mai’s heart is its old city with its many Buddhist temples including the city’s oldest temple Wat Chiang Man, the Three Kings Monument, and a few museums too. The old city is surrounded by a moat which still has water in it. And in the center of the four boundaries of the old city are four original “Gates” – Chiang Mai Gate on the south side, Suan Dok Gate on the west side, Chang Puak Gate on the north side, and Tha Phae Gate on the east side. East side is the one that is closest to Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar area. But Tha Phae Gate is not prominent just because of its proximity to Night Bazaar. Tha Phae Gate dates back to the beginning of Mang Rai Dynasty (1296-1558 A.D.) when King Mang Rai founded the city of Chiang Mai in the year 1296. The gate was originally known as Chiang Ruak Gate named after a nearby village of that name. “Tha Phae” literally means “Raft Landing” which was the name it got over a period of time.
There were two gates in this place earlier, an Outer Tha Phae Gate and an Inner Tha Phae Gate. But close to the end of the 19th century, the outer gate was dismantled and the inner gate came to be known as Tha Phae Gate.
The present day day structure of the gate is a reconstruction carried out in 1985-86 based on historical and archaelogical evidence and is considered to be most accurate. Tha Phae Gate connects eastern side of Chiang Mai Old City to the western side via a road called Rachadamnoen Road.
This road becomes a walking street every Sunday from 4pm up to midnight for “Sunday Market” of traditional Thai arts and crafts. Local dances, other performances and Thai food entertain visitors while they shop. On other days of the weak, Tha Phae Gate is still good for spending a few relaxed moments before heading in or out of the old city. Grab a copy of Chiang Mai’s Best Tourist Map to make the most of your visit to Chiang Mai Old City.