Today I want to take a brief look at the northern most province of Thailand called Chiang Rai. Chiang Rai is a delightful city with beautiful surroundings and plenty of northern cultural attractions. The area has a slower pace of life a pleasant cooler year-round climate and very friendly and honest people. Don’t miss Chiang Rai off of your places to visit whether it’s on this trip or the next trip to Thailand.
You could say that formerly Chiang Rai was missed out on most people’s itinerary due to the poor roads and basic infrastructure, but all that has changed now. Chiang Rai has developed greatly over the last decade and is also a fine base to take day trips to The Golden Triangle, Mai Sai and Chiang Saen.
Introduction To Chiang Rai
- Chiang Rai is the Northern most province of Thailand
- Chiang Rai was founded by King Mengrai in 1262, but was conquered by Burma and remained under the rule of the Burmese for a few hundred years until reclaimed by the Thais in 1786.
- The approximate population of Chiang Rai is 62,000.
The most northern province in Thailand: Chiang Rai
Getting To Chiang Rai
- Chiang Rai is situated approximately 800 kilometres North of Bangkok
- The flight from Bangkok to Chiang Rai takes roughly about 1 hour.
- Thai Airways International operates daily flights from Bangkok to Chiang Rai http://www.thaiairways.com/
- The bus to Chiang Rai takes anywhere between 9-11 hours and can be picked up from the ”Mochit ” bus terminal at 2 Kamphaengphet road. There are two types of buses with air con or without, an air-conditioned bus is well worth paying a few more Thai Baht for.
- There is actually no direct train to Chiang Rai from Bangkok, you will have to change trains on route at either Chiang Mai or Lampang.
- If travelling by car from Bangkok take highway 1 and then on to highway 32 to Nakhon Sawan and finally highway 1 again to Phayao via Lampang and Tak.
Link To Map Of Chiang Rai
When To Visit Chiang Rai
- A good time to visit Chiang Rai is during the cool season from late October through until the end of February. Although the evenings and early mornings can be fresher the days are still on the warm side.
- The hot season runs between March and June and temperatures can soar, it certainly slows down movement and the usual slower and laid back Chiang Rai pace becomes even slower.
- The monsoon season is from July through to October with a possibility of flooding.
Things Worth Seeing And Doing
King Mengrai Monument
It is believed by the locals that the King Mengrai monument should be the first place to visit when coming to Chiang Rai to show respect to King Mengrai the founder of Chiang Rai, before travelling anywhere else. You can find the monument on the outskirts of Chiang Rai by the road leading to Mae Chan.
Wat Rong Khun Temple (วัดร่องขุ่น)
A completely white and very beautiful temple. Is said to have been a life time project for the artist Chalermchai Kositpapat. The temple was designed to be viewed in the moonlight and all the statues and figures are based on religious beliefs. Normally temples are ancient and built a very long time ago, but this one is very recent with construction starting in 1998.
Wat Rong Khun
Doi Tung Royal Villa
- The Royal Villa was built for the late Princes Mother in the combination styles of Lanna and Swiss chalet.
- Decorated with beautiful Shan and Lanna antiques
- The entire estate is 56,000 square metres of land.
- At the top of the mountain sits the much revered temple ” Wat Phrathat Doi Tung” and an amazing panoramic view of the surrounding area.
- Also take a look around the beautiful Mae Fa Luang Botanical Garden with some tremendous flower gardens and hill tribe villages.
Beautiful view over Doi Tung Royal Villa
- The famous Golden Triangle is actually the point where the borders of Thailand , Lao and Myanmar meet at the junction of the Mekong river
- The Golden Triangle is approximately 8 kilometres North of Chiang Saen.
- Boats can be hired from Chiang Saen for travel to the Golden Triangle
Phu Chi Fa Forest Park
- Phu Chi Fa Forest Park in Amphoe Thoeng is a mountain with breath-taking panoramic views over Lao with its main characteristic being the high and steep cliffs.
- A real early morning visit is the time to be here with mist surrounding the mountain top. The cool season from late October until the end of February is a great time of year to visit, but bring along your jacket.
- Phu Chi Fa Forest Park is situated about 25 kilometres south of Doi Pha Tang.
- Chiang Saen is a small town located on the banks of the Mekong river.
- A delightful old traditional style town consisting of many temples the ruins of city walls, moats and gateways.
The tremendous colour of Doi Tung Royal Villa
The Night Bazaar
- Take a leisurely stroll around the Chiang Rai night bazaar.
- Stop off in the square for a nice cold beer and a tasty snack whilst watching the nightly performances of the traditional Thai dancers.
Saturday Night Walking Street Market
- Each Saturday night on Thanalai road in the Chinese quarter of the city from 5pm – 11pm Saturday night walking street.
- Contains market stalls, Karaoke, Thai music, Thai food and street dancing.
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