Thailand’s northernmost province Chiang Rai is located 785 kilometers from Bangkok, and borders Myanmar to the north and Laos to the east. The province was built by Konh Mengrai in 1262, and is mainly very a mountainous terrain, forming the “Golden Triangle” around the Mekong river. Chiang Rai is an interesting place for tourists to visit on their trip to Thailand if they are eager to experience the area’s natural attractions, and learn about the place and Thailand’s past. An important reason for tourism in the area is the local hill tribes, and it is usually something tourists in this area want to experience. The hill tribes make their own goods such as jewelry, etc. which is very popular to buy. Additionally, the province has a number of important sights, including Mai Sai, Chiang Saen, which is home to many ancient ruins, and Doi Hua Mae Kham which is home to a number of tribal villages, all of which is worth experiencing on your trip to Thailand.
Chiang Rai – Getting there
Thai Airways International (TG), Orient Thai Airlines, and Air Asia all have daily flights between Bangkok and Chiang Rai. The flight takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
There are both buses with and without air conditioning from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal on Kamphaengphet 2 Road. The journey takes about 11 hours.
Take Highway No. 1 (Phahonyothin Road), turn at No. 32 passing Ayutthaya, Angthong, Singburi, then choose road No. 11 passing Phitsanulok, Uttaradit, Phrae. Then turn left onto Highway No. 103, drive until you pass Ngao District and turn right to Highway No. 1, which takes you to Phayao and then to Chiang Rai. The entire route is 785 km.
There is no direct train to Chiang Rai. You have to take the train from Bangkok to Lampang (9 hours) or Chiang Mai (11 hours). And then take a bus to Chiang Rai. (2 hrs from Lampang and 1.30 hours from Chiang Mai)
Chiang Rai – Weather
There are three seasons as in Chiang Mai – the hot season is from March to May, the rainy season from May to October and the cool season from November to February. During the winter the temperature can drop to 13 degrees at night, and possibly even lower in the mountains, so bring some extra clothes on your trip to Thailand if you’re traveling in the cool season.
Chiang Rai – Things to Do
The Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is situated in Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand, and it has an expansive area with Thailand, Laos and Myanmar within reach. Earlier, the area was known for opium cultivation, and getting gold in exchange – hence the name. The Golden Triangle is located 28 km from Mae Sai district area where the Khong River and Ruak are, it is the area known as Sop Ruak. The area is full of beautiful scenery, and ancient temples. The countryside by the Khong River at dawn is beautiful, and you can see the sun rise in the fog. There are a number of hotels and resorts built in the area, some of them 5-star.
How to get there on your Thailand trip: from Chiang Rai, you can take a bus to Chiang Saen, and from Chiang Saen take a Songtaew to Sop Ruak. There are also tours from Chiang Mai to the Golden Triangle area.
Chiang Rai Night Bazaar
Chiang Rai Night Bazaar is located between the bus station and Phaholyothin Road in the center of town. The market consists of many small shops on the narrow street between Phaholyothin Road and the bus station, the amount of stores appreciated by shoppers on their Thailand trip. At this market you can purchase almost everything imaginable: silk, tattoos, and even pets. Mountain Tribes (locals) sell a large selection of old coins, collector’s items of handicrafts, and fine quilted bedspreads.
Aside from shopping, there is an outdoor stage with cultural performances, outdoor terrace, and beer garden.
The Night Bazaar is open daily from 6:30 PM to 11 PM.
Getting there: Chiang Rai Night Bazaar is located near the center of the city, and you can easily walk there from the bus station.
Khun Kon Waterfall Forest Park
Located 30 km south of Chiang Rai city along the way 1211.
The 70-meter high Khun Kon or Tat Mok waterfalls are the highest and most beautiful in the province. Surrounded by dense trees, the area is also good for hiking.
Through the heart of Chiang Rai is the 130-km-long charming river that has a reputation of being one of the most scenic and pristine rivers in Thailand. Along the beach there are dense jungles, rugged mountains, and numerous hill tribe villages. Elephant riding and hiking are also offered in some villages, and can be a part of the experience of your holiday in Thailand.
It takes three days and two nights to cover the distance of 80 km from Tha Ton to Chiang Mai and on to Chiang Rai city with a raft on the river. River trips to and from Chiang Rai with a long tail boat also sail regularly, the journey takes about 4-5 hours.
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew was known as Wat Pa Yah (Temple of the Golden Bamboo Forest), because in fact it was surrounded by bamboo forest. The name was changed to Wat Phra Kaew in 1977 after the temple Chedi was struck by lightning, which caused discovering the Phra Kaew Morakot (Emerald Buddha statue) inside.
Wat Phra Kaew is known throughout Thailand as the original home of the translucent green Buddha which adorns the Emerald Buddha Temple in Bangkok’s Grand Palace. Phra Kaew Marakot was situated at Wat Phra Kaew in Chiang Rai for 43 years (1934-1977) before its discovery, and then stayed for two years before it was moved to Lampang in 1979.
A new Phra Kaew Marakot image was carved in China out of Canadian Jade in honor of HRH Somdej Phrasrinkharintra. The inauguration took place in Bangkok September 20, 1991, and the image was then placed at Wat Phra Kaew, Chiang Rai October 19 the same year at a large ceremony.
How to get there: From King Mengrai the Great Memorial in Chiang Rai city center, turn left and go straight to the three way cross and turn left again. After 100 meters you will see Wat Phra Kaew on your right.
Wat Rong Khun
Located in Pa or Donchai District, Muang county, in Chiang Rai province.
Wat Rong Khun is located at the entrance to the Khun Kon waterfall, 12 km from Muang county in the Chiang Rai province. The temple was designed and manufactured by a famous Thai artist named Chaloemchai Khositphiphat. The design of this modern temple is the artist’s life’s work. Although the temple is not completed, its striking architecture attracts many tourists who want to see the great Buddhist art. This temple looks very different from other Thai temples you may have seen, it is all white and adorned with beautiful traditional Thai stucco-style, which is claimed to represent heaven.
Chiang Rai – Shopping
Chiang Rai is one of the famous provinces with high quality silver, silk, handicrafts and other local products such as marinated pork, canned pork sausage, woodwork, and ceramics which are all available in stores in Muang and Mae Chan district, most on Phahonyothin Road.
Other shopping areas are in Mae Sai area and the Golden Triangle. Hundreds of shops and stalls in Mae Sai are close together and continues all the way to the Thailand-Myanmar border. Popular items include silk and local clothes, cutlery, beads, woodwork, dried fruits, preserves and handmade souvenirs – here you will find many interesting things on your Thailand trip.
Kaat Jiang Hai Ramleuk
If you are out on a Saturday night, do not miss Kaat Jiang Hai Ramleuk which is an expansive street market with all sorts of goods Chiang Rai has to offer, from crafts to local dishes. The market begins from Th Thanalai Hill Tribe Museum and continues to the morning market.
Chiang Rai – Restaurants
Chiang Rai is filled with food shops and restaurants, offering a variety of food, from local dishes to international cuisine. If you visit Chiang Rai or other northern provinces on your trip to Thailand it is recommended that you taste the delicious local food, for instance Khantok which is a traditional meal made of northern people. It is served in most Thai restaurants, and sometimes you may also enjoy an amazing Northern dance show in some of them.
The air-conditioned restaurant is very popular among Thai tourists for its delicious Northern Thai dishes. The recommended local dishes include gaang hang lair (pork belly in curry) which is Burmese inspired, and served with pickled garlic and Sai oo a herb packed sausages.
If you want to eat like locals on your trip, look no further than this rustic but delicious food hut. There is an English menu on the wall, but do not miss the magnificent right lâhp Gai minced chicken fried with herbs and topped with crispy fried shallots and garlic.
The restaurant is located on Th Phranorn near the intersection of the highway, look for a sign that says “local food”.
This cozy, foreign-friendly restaurant is a good choice if you get tired of rice during your trip in Thailand. There are a number of Dutch and other Western dishes, and a good bakery.
Chiang Rai – Nearby
Chiang Saen is a city located right next to the Mekong River. The city itself is quite normal except for its ruins which provide archaeological evidence of Chiang Saen’s former glory in the 1400s. The city is literally filled with temples (36 in total), fortresses, moats and Buddha images, the remains of the city wall and Chedis, all testify to an exciting past. Many of the objects (sculptures, Buddha images, and ceramics) that are excavated in Chiang Saen has been moved to Chiang Saen National Museum to provide a fascinating insight into the history and prehistory.
Located very close to the Golden Triangle, Chiang Saen is a border crossing to Laos but only for Thai and Lao citizens. The city also serves as a port for ships to transport goods from China. You also need to know that even though the archaeological aspects of Chiang Saen is fascinating, the city itself is very quiet with very little to do.
Almost everything in town closes at 9 PM.
Phu Chi Fa Forest Park
Located in Thoeng district in the Chiang Rai province, there is a great view from Doi Pha with a height of 1.628 meters above sea level. From Phu Chi Fa you will experience the spectacular mountain scenery between Thailand and the border to Laos. You can expect views of the Mekong River, and far into Laos. From here you can also see a small village in the Chiang Tong District, and the mountains of Laos, far away.
A perfect place to take some nice photos during your trip to Thailand is the area located 50 meters before you reach the top. From this point you can see when the sun rises out from the top of the mountain, while the sea mist slowly disappears. This incredibly beautiful scenery, the cool weather, and beautiful local flowers make this a place you should visit at least once during your holiday in Thailand. The place is very popular during the winter or cool season (November to February).
During your trip to this park you will find a variety of guesthouses, resorts and campgrounds near Phu Chi Fa. Phu Chi Fa is most visited in the early morning hours. Instead of leaving Chiang Rai very early in the morning (at approx. 02:00 AM), it is recommended that visitors stay overnight in the Phu Chi Fa area and wake up early around 5:00 AM to go up to the mountain top. Visitors can stay overnight at Ban Rome Fa Thong and Ban Rome Fa Thai. From there it is approximately 1.8 km to the lookout point on the mountain.
Leave Chiang Rai town along Highway 1020 to Thoeng. Drive 63 km until you reach the highway 1115. Turn left and drive 21 km to Ban Pang Kha. From Ban Pang Kha, drive another 24 km to Phu Chi Fa. The total distance from Chiang Rai to Phu Chi Fa is 108 km.
Chiang Rai – Article
Chiang Rai – A great getaway
Author: Alex Albert
Chiang Rai offers trips with a variety of adventure and a glimpse of its historical past that includes many mysteries and folk music. From being a photographer’s delight to the culinary travelers’ favorite Chiang Rai is a good base for exploring the picturesque surroundings.
Chiang Rai is a relaxed city with a rich cultural diversity. The picturesque town is surrounded by mystical hills and valleys, and invites travelers to explore the terrain. Chiang Rai is Thailand’s northernmost province and shares its border with Myanmar and Laos. Chiang Rai has colorful customs and an unchanged lifestyle that provides a generous glimpse of their traditional lifestyle. There is a large population of mountain tribes, and each tribe speaks different languages. Additionally, there are many tourist attractions such as Buddhist temples, shrines, and lots of Lanna-style architecture, all of which tells a lot about the history of Chiang Rai.
The most famous tourist attraction in Chiang Rai’s Wat Phra Kaeo which is known for its Emerald Buddha, which was later moved to Bangkok. The Gate of Siam is also a very popular place, and it is one of the few places where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the mighty Mekong River. Wat Doi Tung See is another very important temple in Thailand. The journey up to the mountain sanctuary offers great views, a true delight. In addition to the historical sights, Chiang Rai has much to offer travelers. It is also a place where you can buy great souvenirs, and there is a large kitchen for culinary travelers.
Chiang Rai is a picturesque town and offers many sightseeing opportunities. The best way to get around is by bicycle. It is easily accessible, convenient, and you can bike at your own pace. Car rental is also easily accessible, and it is certainly worth exploring the surrounding areas for which Chiang Rai is a good base. Apart from a number of tourist attractions in the city, visitors can also enjoy a scenic drive to the city of Chiang Mai, which takes about three hours by car. For a more relaxed holiday, you can also try the two international golf courses, Santiburi, and the old airport outside the city. Chiang Rai has an international airport, and travelers can also drive directly from Bangkok to get to this city.
Finding accommodation in Chiang Rai is easy, and the hotels offer several different options that travelers can choose from, from bed and breakfast type places to luxury hotels. Travelers will find plenty of amenities and services to rejoice, and hotels in Chiang Rai also has an affordable price. Most hotels in Chiang Rai are located in scenic surroundings and offer a good insight to local life.