Rai, the northernmost province of Thailand is about 785 kilometers
north of Bangkok. Situated on the Kok River basin, Chiang Rai covers
an area of approximately 11,678 square meters with an average
elevation of 580 meters above sea level. The province, which is
located within the renowned Golden Triangle area where Myanmar, Laos
and Thailand converge, is also known as the gateway to Myanmar, Laos
and Southern China.
Chiang Rai, which
was founded in 1262 by King Meng Rai,
was the first capital of the Lanna Thai Kingdom (Kingdom of a
million rice fields), which was later conquered by Burma. It was not
until 1786 that Chiang Rai became a Thai territory and was
proclaimed a province during the reign of King Rama VI in 1910.
Chiang Rai is a travelers paradise endowed with abundant natural
tourist attractions and antiquities; the province itself is evidence
of past civilization. Attractions range from magnificent mountain
scenery, ruins of ancient settlements, historic sites, Buddhist
shrines and ethnic villages as the province is also home to several
hill tribes who maintain fascinating lifestyles. For those
interested in the natural side of Chiang Rai, jungle trekking is
recommended along various trails.
Chiang Rai which tends to be a little more
'laid back' now competes with Chiang Mai as a tourist attraction and
is fast becoming a popular escape for tourists wanting to get away
from the troubles they left behind.
Khun Chae National Park is located at Tambon Mae Chedi Mai of Wiang Pa
Pao District. It can be reached by taking the Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai
Route (Highway No. 118). The park headquarters is right next to the
highway at kilometers 55-56. Visitors wishing to take a jungle trek and
camp within the park need to procure the services of a guide and prepare
their own camping equipment. The trek through the Khun Chae jungle is
for adventure travel enthusiasts as the route passes through steep
terrain and several hilltops and cliffs over 1,400 meters high. There
are good scenic lookout points and trekkers can enjoy waterfalls,
flowing streams and virgin jungle areas covered with various plants.
Wat Rong Khun
Wat Rong Khun is also known as the White Temple. Whereas most temples visited by
tourists have a history going back many centuries, this magnificent place of
worship was built only recently. It is the realization of a dream for Thailands
noted artist, Mr Chalermchai Kositpipat, who designed and is supervising the
construction of this beautiful white temple and its many statues of figures
based on religious beliefs. The construction started in 1998 and is expected to
be completed in 2008. In addition, there is a gallery nearby exhibiting his
paintings. To get there from the city of Chiang Rai, drive north along Asia
Wat Phra That Doi Tung
Wat Phra That Doi Tung is situated on top of Doi Tung
Mountain, the highest mountain in Chiang Rai Province with an elevation of
approximately 2,000 meters, about 50 kilometers south of Mae Sai town which is
near the Myanmar border. The temple can be reached via a 40-kilometer mountain
road which meanders along the mountainside. The journey is worthwhile as the
panoramic views into Laos and Myanmar at the peak are spectacular.
Wat Phra That Doi Tung was constructed in the 10th
century and was renovated by Chiang Rai's most famous ruler King Mengrai during
the 13th century and by the famous Chiang Mai monk, Khru Ba Siwichai, at the
turn of the 20th century.
The temple complex is comprised of twin Lanna style chedis, one of which is said
to contain the left collarbone of the Lord Buddha. Throughout the year, the holy
relic draws devout Buddhists from all over Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.
The Golden Triangle
A trip to Chiang Rai province would not be complete
without seeing the notorious Golden Triangle first hand! This famed border
location where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet on the Mekong River was once
supposed to be the center of all the poppy cultivation in Thailand.
Travel approximately 9 kilometers north of old town
Chiang Saen, along the road parallel to the Mekong River to the area where the
borders of Thailand, Myammar and Laos converge. This area where the Mekong River
meets the Ruak River is locally referred to as "Sop Ruak". Within this area are
remains of many ancient places and structures attesting to the fact that the
area had been settled by people in the past. It is also the area where various
legends concerning the Lanna ancestors originate.
Boats can be hired in order to view the upstream scenery
of the Golden Triangle and to travel downstream to Chiang Khong. The trip to the
Golden Triangle and Chiang Khong would take approximately 40 minutes and 1 hour
respectively, depending on river currents and water levels.
Doi Mae Salong
Doi Mae Salong is the site of Santi Khiri village, a community settled
by the former Chinese 93rd Division who moved from Myanmar
reside on Thai territory in 1961. The village became well known for its
enchanting scenery and tranquil atmosphere. Today it is a major tourist
attraction with its small-town ambience, delicious native Chinese
dishes, small hotels and guesthouses catering to visitors and tea,
coffee and fruit tree plantations. The scenery is especially picturesque
in December and January when sakuras are in full bloom. Scattered with
many hill tribe villages, Doi Mae Salong is ideal for trekking.
To reach Doi Mae Salong, take the Chiang Rai-Mae Chan route for 29
kilometers, then turn left and proceed for another 41 kilometers
(passing a hot spring). The return trip can be taken on routes nos. 1234
and 1130 which wind through Yao and Akha hill tribe villages. From Doi
Mae Salong a road leads to Tha Thon, the starting point for the Kok
River cruise, a distance of 45 kilometers. There are hotels and
guesthouses to accommodate tourists and a paved road leading to the
Phu Chi Fa
Phu Chi Fa is approximately 25 kilometers to the south of Doi Pha Tang in Thoeng
District. The cool climate produces colorful flowering shrubs and the large
meadow on the top provides breathtaking views of Laos. In addition, spectacular
scenery can be seen from the sheer cliff of Phu Chi Fa, especially the sea of
mist at sunrise. Visitors can stay overnight at Ban Rom Fa Thong and Ban Rom Fa
Rai Mae Fah Luang
Rai Mae Fah Luang is a cultural centre and centre of Lanna Studies dedicated to
the conservation and promotion of Lanna heritage.There are 5 exhibit areas
a. The Botanical Gardens and Nature Park
b. The Haw Khumm(Golden Pavilion)
c. The Haw Khum Noi (Small Golden Pavilion)
d. Sala Kaew-A ceremonial space for riturals
e. Haw Kaew-Gallery of Lanna Cultureal Arts.
Rai Mae Fah Luang opens daily from 10.00-18.00 hrs.
Entrance fee: Baht 200
How to get there
Bangkok - Chiang Rai
Thai Airways has daily flights connecting Bangkok with
Chiang Rai. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 0 2280
0060, 0 2628 2000, the Chiang Rai Office tel. 0 5371 1179, 0 5371 5207, or view
their website at
One-Two-Go offers daily flights from Bangkok to Chiang
Rai. Call 1126 or book online at
SGA offers flights to Chiang Rai. Call 0 2664 6099 or
The coach ride from Bangkok to Chiang Rai is probably
best made overnight since passengers can avail themselves of sleep prior to an
early morning arrival. There are both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned
bus services from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Mochit 2 Bus Terminal) on
Kamphaengphet 2 Road. The journey may take approximately 9-11 hours.
Take Highway No. 1 (Phahonyothin Road), turn to route No.
32 passing Ayutthaya, Angthong and Singburi Provinces and change to route No. 11
passing Phitsanulok, Uttaradit and Phrae Provinces then turn left to Highway No.
103, drive through to Ngao District and turn right onto Highway No. 1 which
takes you to Phayao and Chiang Rai Provinces. The total distance is 785 km.
There is no direct train to Chiang Rai. You have to take
a train to Lampang
(9 hrs. from Bangkok) or Chiang Mai (11 hrs.) and then take a bus to Chiang Rai.
(2 hrs. from Lampang and 1.30 hrs. from Chiang Mai) For more details, call the
State Railway of Thailand, 1690 (hotline), or 0 2223 7010 or 0 2223 7020.
The capital may also be reached from Tha Thon in Chiang
Mai province by a scenic 4-6 hour (depending on climatic conditions, such as
rain, and other factors such as high waters and fast currents) long-tail boat
ride along the Mae Kok River.
Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai is 182 kilometers north of Chiang Mai. Air conditioned buses leave 12
times daily from Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Terminal to Chiang Rai. Some buses
continue to Mae Sai and Chiang Saen.
Airlines have numerous daily flights servicing the Bangkok-Chiang Mai route and
the Chiang Mai-Chiang Rai route.