(CNN) — In the cultural haven of Chiang Mai, the temples and religious reverence is what you'd expect.
But look closer and you'll find the edgy charm of a modern city, from the cafes populated by digital nomads to artists and creatives.
And somehow much of it is expressed with a wink and a nod to the noble Lanna Kingdom, the historical roots of Northern Thailand.
Katie Jade Hawker, a curator and artist from Britain came to Chiang Mai a few years ago to connect artists worldwide with the unique creative energy of the city.
"I think they've got a lot of amazing culture to select inspiration from, and there's a lot of artwork produced with kind of underlying Buddhist influences touching on Thai tradition," she says.
There is also a practical side to all this creativity; a campaign in Chiang Mai to give this city a UNESCO Creative City designation.
Nopporn Kaewnew, the head of Don Designs, says that getting his furniture pieces to a wider clientele would be much more difficult without the Creative Chiang Mai campaign.
"Chiang Mai was unseen before in the world but now I think with social networks... you can see what we have," he says.
The essence of Chiang Mai's creative spirit is firmly grounded in the past but the modern take here is all about a shared concept of sincerity and authenticity.