Chiang Rai the capital of Chiang Rai Province is the commercial centre of the region on Northern Thailand near the Myanmar and Laos border known as the Golden Triangle. Using Chiang Rai as a base it is a province of hill tribes with a cuisine more spicy than elsewhere in Thailand.
How to get there
Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport provides an air link with Bangkok as well as China. It is just 8 km to the centre of the city. Bus services are good with regulars down to Chiang Mai in the south which is the closest rail link. It is over 800 km to Bangkok so the overland route either way takes time.
There are bus services to both Laos and Myanmar so those on Indochina tour packages are able to cross borders quite easily.
Best time to visit
The peak rainfall period is between July and September the middle part of the monsoon season finishing in October. The dry season follows with the hottest months March and April. The average year round temperature is a relatively pleasant 24C.
Things to see and do
There are a number of interesting museums including one on the history of local hill tribes.
This Thailand travel guide identifies a number of things to see:
• Baan dam Museum otherwise known as the Black Temple has a number of small black houses made of various different materials containing collections of sculptures, silver and gold exhibits, paintings and skins. They comes from places as far afield as Bali and Myanmar with the art of the Ayutthaya Period.
• Chiang Rai First Church, its largest, built in 1914 is Presbyterian.
• Munniti Chiang Raiis a Taoist and Mahayana Buddhist temple.
• The temple Pattaya Noi is for the Chinese Goddess of Mercy.
• Wat Klong Wiang is 15th Century, and contains some lovely statues.
• Wat Ming Meuang is almost Laotian in design.
• Wat Phra Kaeo formerly held the Emerald Buddha and has a replica now that the original has gone to Bangkok to the Royal Palace.
There is plenty to do on holiday in Thailand to fill in your time:
• The Kok River flowing through the City has a beach which has become a popular picnic area. There are scenic long boat tours to enjoy.
• Gate of Siamon the Laos border is up on a mountain where visitors can look across the Mekong River at Laos.
• Namtok Khun Kon Forest Park is a nice place to walk with a 70 metre high waterfall, Khun Kon.
• The Great Memorial to King Mengrai a 13th Century is on the road to Mae Fah and his stupa is in front of Wat Ngam Mueang.
• Lion Cave has three chambers with the largest containing a Sequoia tree. Trekking and rock climbing there is for the active and there are 3 golf courses for the not quite so active.
• As with many Indochina places the markets, day and night are interesting even if you are not going to buy.
Thailand tour packages offer a range of accommodation and make all the arrangements.
There are guesthouses and tourist hotels for most budgets. There are homestays, bungalows and camping opportunities as well.