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Arts

Chiang Mai: Thailand's modern-day Left Bank

Evolution of Thai northern city into creative hub fuels hopes of gaining UNESCO status

Opened last year, the MAIIAM Contemporary Arts Museum is expected to give local artists a big boost as they strive to be better recognized -- and paid. (Photo by Denis Gray)

CHIANG MAI, Thailand -- The millions of tourists who flock to the ancient, mountain-ringed city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand might not immediately notice, but the alleys, riversides and Bohemian cafes here are percolating with striking imagery, innovative design and digital wizardry. It is a heady brew that has prompted some to predict a real explosion -- a creative one, that is.

Visitors pass through the newly established MAIIAM Contemporary Arts Museum which features and promotes the works of northern Thai artists. (Photo by Denis Gray)

The city is already home to more than 40 art galleries and a world-class contemporary arts museum, with others planned. It hosts design and arts festivals and was listed on a widely consulted digital nomad website as No. 1 of 991 places in the world for roving techies to plug in their computers. A creative resource guide to the city runs to 199 pages, focusing on venues ranging from the Wandering Moon Theater to Chiang Mai University's College of Arts, Media and Technology.

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