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Destination Guide in Thailand

Chiang Rai

Populations have dwelled in Chiang Rai since the 7th century and it became the center of the Lanna Thai Kingdom during the 13th century. The region, rich in natural resources and textiles, was occupied by the Burmese until 1786. Chiang Rai became a province in 1910, after being part of the kingdom of Lannathai for centuries. After Lannathai was incorporated into Thailand, it stayed an autonomous region and thus the Chiang Rai area was administered from Chiang Mai. Chiang Rai province’s Golden Triangle bordering Laos and Burma was once the hub of opium production which had much influence on cultural practices and lifestyles. Until this day, entire clans live together in bamboo houses and each village has its own individual character.

Attractions

Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park (Rai Mae Fah Luang) is located at Pa Ngiw Village, about 5 kilometers from the city center. It was founded by the late Princess Mother, who bought a 140 rai plot to set up a center for developing the youths from rural areas under the supervision of the Mae Fah Luang Foundation. The garden is a park cum museum preserving Lanna cultural objects.

Doi Tung (ดอยตุง) is a revered mountain which includes the Doi Tung Palace and the Mae Fa Luang Flower Garden. The Wat Phra That Doi Tung Holy Relic, an old religious site on top of the mountain, is about 2,000 metres above sea level.

Wat Rong Khun (วัดร่องขุ่น): This temple was designed and built by artist Chaloemchai Khositphiphat. A white ordination hall – Phra Ubosot - is decorated with silver glittering pieces of mirrors. There are large mural paintings of the Lord Buddha in different gestures.

The Golden Triangle (สามเหลี่ยมทองคำ), locally called "Sop Ruak", is where the Mekhong meets the Ruak River and also where the borders of three countries, Laos, Burma and Thailand, meet together. There are remains of many ancient places and structures attesting to the area having been settled by people in the past.

Doi Mae Salong (ดอยแม่สลอง) is home to a community settled by remnants of the 93rd Division of the Republic of China Army, who moved out of Yunnan province, China, in to Burma and after to Thai territory at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Today the town is a tourist attraction renowned for its tea and its small-town ambience on high hills.

Wat Phra Kaeo (วัดพระแก้ว) once housed Thailand’s most revered Buddha image, the Emerald Buddha. It was discovered in 1444. The statue had been moved by various state rulers to be placed in their respective capitals as a symbol of dominance, including Lampang, Chiang Rai and Vientiane before finally enshrined in Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaeo during the reign of King Rama I of the Rattanakosin period.

Kok River (แม่น้ำกก) flows through the town of Chiang Rai and is 130 kilometres long. Long-tailed boats and cruises can be made from town to travel. Hilltribe villages in the area are popular with travelers.

Amphoe Mae Sai: Mae Sai (แม่สาย), borders on Burma’s Tachileik (ท่าขี้เหล็ก) marked by the Mae Sai River with a bridge spanning both sides. The area has a market selling lots of different goods.

Doi Nang Non (ดอยนางนอน), "sleeping woman mountain", is unusual land feature located in Mae Chan district on the western side of the highway between Chiang Rai and Mae Sai.[2] The silhouette of the mountain range takes the shape of a reclining woman when seen from certain angles. There is a viewpoint at Mae Chan, from where this land feature can be observed best.[3]

The Hall of Opium, Golden Triangle Park (หอฝิ่นอุทยานสามเหลี่ยมทองคำ) exhibits the history of opium in the Golden Triangle, its origin, opium war when people lived on opium planting and smoking, as well as the recovery of the people who lived here.

Chiang Saen (เชียงแสน): an ancient town which once served as the main town before King Mengrai established Chiang Rai as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom in 1262. Traces of old double city walls and many other antiquities still remain in and outside the district town. The attractions include Chiang Saen National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติเชียงแสน), Wat Phra That Chedi Luang (วัดพระธาตุเจดีย์หลวง) and Wat Pa Sak (วัดป่าสัก).

Phu Chi Fa (ภูชี้ฟ้า): There is a trail which leads from a parking lot up to the viewing point on the top of this mountain, a distance of 1.8 kilometres. From the sheer cliff of Phu Chi Fa, views, especially the sea of clouds at sunrise, can be seen. The cool climate produces flowering shrubs of various species.

Activities

Trekking An extensive network of trails mainly used by hill tribe villagers covers the mountain areas of Mae Suai, Mae Salong, Doi Chaang and the banks along the Mae Kok River.

Golf Santiburi Chiang Rai is one of the best courses in the country and is only 15 minutes from the city. Waterford is an attractive course about 45 minutes north of Chiang Rai city. The Military course is on the way to the Mae Fah Luang Bridge, not far from the Dusit Hotel. The old airport has a short but tough 9 hole course.

Mountain Biking Chiang Rai has incredible mountain biking because of the extensive network of paved roads with little traffic and dirt roads in the mountains. A nice day ride is to start in the city, go out to the elephant village and continue on past it until you find a small single track suspension bridge. Cross it and turn left, back towards Chiang Rai. On the way you will pass two hot springs and eventually end up back in the city.

Long Tail Boat Ride A long tail boat ride on the Kok River is a fun way to experience the scenery and see hill tribe villages. There are daily trips from Thaton, near the Burmese border to Chiang Rai. The main boat station is on the north side of the Mae Fah Luang Bridge, not far from the Rimkok Hotel.

Elephants Riding Elephant riding is possible at Baan Ruamit, about 30 minutes from Chiang Rai by car or 1 hour by long tail boat ride.

Local Products

Chiang Rai is rich in handicraft items such as hand-woven cotton materials, dresses and hilltribe silver ornaments, as well as wood-carving products. Certain food items are quite popular such as Naem and Mu Yo (preserved and fermented pork sausages). Agricultural products include lychee (April-May), pineapples, tea, and other products from the royal projects.

Events & Festivals

Wai Sa Phaya Mengrai or Phokhun Mengrai Maharat Festival (งานไหว้สาพญาเม็งราย หรือ งานพ่อขุนเม็งรายมหาราช) is held from January 23 – February 1. The Buang Suang worshipping ceremony is to commemorate Phokhun Mengrai Maharat.

Dok Siao Ban or Blooming Siao Flower Festival at Phu Chi Fa (งานดอกเสี้ยวบานที่ภูชี้ฟ้า) is held during 13-15 February. There are sports competitions and cultural performances from hilltribes at Ban Rom Fa Thai in Amphoe Thoeng.

Songkran Festival and Boat Races of Mueang Chiang Saen (งานประเพณีสงกรานต์และแข่งเรือเมืองเชียงแสน) is held during 13-18 April of each year. In this festival, there is a parade, water bathing ceremony of the Phrachao Lanthong Buddha image, boat races and folk performances.

Lichi Fair (งานเทศกาลลิ้นจี่และของดีเมืองเชียงราย) is held around the middle of May every year. There is a float competition, Lichi beauty contest and booths of many products at the provincial stadium of Chiang Rai.

Buatong Ban or Blooming Mexican Sunflower Festival (งานเทศกาลดอกบัวตองบาน) is held in November, affording people the opportunity to see the sunflower fields, waterfalls and mist at Ban Hua Mae Kham, Amphoe Mae Fa Luang. There are also hilltribe performances.

Chiang Rai Flower Festival (งานเทศกาลเชียงรายดอกไม้บาน) is held during the end of December to January every year. There are flower processions, flower gardens, Miss Thinn Thai Ngarm Contest and also the fair of agricultural products and the variety of flowers.

Chiang Saen, Mae Chan, and Doi Mae Salong are three substantially different places. Chiang Saen’s culture has been influenced by its collection of Buddhist scriptures and temples. It was once the provincial capital. Mae Chan’s name lies in its silver and tribal handicrafts. Once officially unrecognized by the Thai government, Doi Mae Salong is a Chinese KMT (Kuomintang) area renowned for its natural beauty and unique Yunnanese culture. Besides the Chinese 93rd Infantry of the Kuomintang, several other ethnic minorities have settled down in the region including the Tai Yai, Tai Lue, Tai Khoen and Tai Yuan.

 

 

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