Chiang Rai

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:

  • Organize a trekking tour to the hill-tribes
  • Visit Mae Sai and the Golden Triangle
  • Visit Buffalo Horn Hill and Khun Kon Waterfall (Nam Tok Khun Kon)
  • Visit Shamanic Forest Tribes and learn about the Bee Goddess
  • Visit Huai Hin Fon hot springs and nearby waterfall. The hot springs are located along the Mae Chan to Fang highway (Highway number 1089). It’s just a few kilometers from Mae Chan and is situated directly next to the road, on the south side. One of the geysers is so prominent, it’s hard to miss while driving pass.
  • Another nice place to visit is the hot springs of Pong Phra Bat. Again you could do some walking in the nearby national park of the same name. Take highway 1 north out of Chiang Rai, to the first village (Bandu) / turn off, past the airport. Take the access road along the highway and turn to your left, drive up this road for a km or so until you have a sharp right hand turn. Instead drive through the gate straight ahead of you with the pond on your left. For the Pong Phra Bat waterfall just continues on the paved road for another 5 km's until you come to the end parking. From there it's a 20 minute walk. No entrance fee required!
  • Then there are the clean hot springs of Pha Soet nearby the river, a great place to while away a late afternoon. Pha Soet Hot springs is located on the only road going directly west out of town, once on this road, there are many signboards, announcing it's impending existence and after 20 km's you pass a bridge with the hot springs site on your left.
  • Play and practice golf at The Old Airport. Here you have a very good Driving Ranch and also a 9-hole golfcourse. You can find one of the best teachers in golf here, Barry Finch. And when you are hungry there is a hamburger restaurant.
  • Golf in Chiang Rai: There are two highclass golfcourses outside Chiang Rai. Santiburi is one of Thailands 5 best courses and you can find Santiburi 10 km east of town.


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.

Getting Around

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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