The cultural capital of the north, Chiang Mai is beloved by culture geeks, temple-spotters and families. The old city is jam-packed with temples from the once independent Lanna kingdom. These and the area's winding side roads are best explored on bicycle. Cooking schools teach visitors the art of Thai food, while the scenic countryside boasts jungle treks and minority villages. The city enjoys fantastic dining thanks to imports such as Japanese sushi and Burmese curries, plus home-grown northern specialities and vegetarian fare. The surrounding areas are rich with traditional handicraft outlets.