Chiang Rai lies some 565m above the sea level and is the Northernmost Province of Thailand. The Mekong River makes its borders with Laos to the east and Myanmar to the west. In earlier times, Chiang Rai was predominantly known for the infamous opium region the "Golden Triangle". Chiang Rai is less cosmopolitic than its big sister Chiang Mai but also offers many possibilities for mountain treks, nature tours, visits to hill tribe villages, elephant rides, wild water rafting, mountain biking and other adventurous activities.
Things to do in Chiang Rai:
Where to go in Chiang Rai:
Wat Phra Kaew, on Trirat Road on the northwest side of town, is the best known of the northern wats because it once housed the Emerald Buddha now at Bangkok's royal Wat Phra Kaew. Near its Lanna-style chapel is the chedi, which according to legend was struck by lightning in 1436 to reveal the precious green jasper Buddha. There is now a green jade replica of the image on display.
Wat Phra Singh is 2 blocks east of Wat Phra Kaew. The restored wat is thought to date from the 15th century. Inside is a replica of the Phra Singh Buddha, a highly revered Theravada Buddhist image; the original was removed to Chiang Mai's Wat Phra Singh.
The Burmese-style Wat Doi Tong (Phra That Chomtong) sits atop a hill above the northwest side of town, up a steep staircase off Kaisornrasit Road, and offers an overview of the town and a panorama of the Mae Kok valley. It is said that King Mengrai himself chose the site for his new Lanna capital from this very hill. The circle of columns at the top of the hill surrounds the city's new lak muang, built to commemorate the 725th anniversary of the city and King Bhumibol's 60th birthday.
The Population and Community Development Association is a NGO responsible for some of the most effective tribal development projects in the region. The popular Cabbages & Condoms restaurants, with branches here and in Bangkok and now a resort in Pattaya, carry their important message of safe sex and family planning. On the top floor of this office is a small Hill-tribe Museum that's heavy on shopping and light on museum exhibits, but the admission goes to a good cause. It's open daily 9am to 7pm, and admission is US$1.45.
Mae Kok River is one of the most scenic attractions in Chiang Rai. You can hire a long-tail boat to ferry you up and down the river. You'll have the option to stop at the Buddha cave (a temple within a cavern), an elephant camp (for trekking), a hot spring, and a riverside Lahu village.
How to travel and in Chiang Rai:
By Plane: Thai Airways has two daily flights from Don Mueang, Bangkok, and one daily from Suvarnabhumi InternationalAirport in Bangkok to Chiang Rai. Thailand's many budget carriers, Air Asia, Nok Air, and One-Two-GO all make regular connections. Chiang Rai International Airport is about 10km north of town.
By Bus: Three air-conditioned VIP 24-seat buses leave daily from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal to Chiang Rai. Buses leave hourly between 6am and 5:30pm from Chiang Mai's Arcade Bus Terminal. Chiang Rai's Khon Song Bus Terminal couldn't be more conveniently located - on Phrasopsook Road off Phaholyothin Road near the Night Market just in the center of town. Tuk-tuks and samlors are easy to catch here for trips around town.
By Car: The fast, not particularly scenic, route from Bangkok is Highway 1 North, direct to Chiang Rai. A slow, attractive approach on blacktop mountain roads is Route 107 north from Chiang Mai to Fang, and then Route 109 east to Highway 1.
By Samlor or Tuk-Tuk: You'll probably find walking to be the best way to get around town. However, there are samlors parked outside the Night Market and on the banks of the Mae Kok River; they charge 20B to 30B (57¢-86¢/30p-45p) for in-town trips. During the day, there are tuk-tuks, which charge 30B to 60B (86¢-US$1.70/45p-90p) for in-town trips.
By Bus: Chiang Rai's frequent local buses are the easiest and cheapest way to get to nearby cities. All leave from the bus station on Prasopsuk Road near the Wiang Inn Hotel.
By Motorcycle and/car: Motorcycling and/or hiring a car is another good way to get out of town. Just ask any tour company or hotel for arrangement.
This report describes the typical weather at the Chiang Rai International Airport (Chiang Rai, Thailand) weather station over the course of an average year. It is based on the historical records from 2005 to 2012. Earlier records are either unavailable or unreliable.
Chiang Rai has a tropical savanna climate with dry winters. The area within 40 km of this station is covered by grasslands (47%), forests (38%), and croplands (13%).
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