Part of the Golden Triangle region, where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos converge, Chiang Rai is the capital of Thailand’s northernmost province of the same name.
Heralded as the gateway to the North, Chiang Rai province and the city of Chiang Rai are cultural strongholds for hill tribes and other ethnic groups in Northern Thailand. These distinct cultural flavors can be found in the food, language, and faces of the people here.
The wealth of activities throughout the province often causes the quiet capital city of Chiang Rai to be overlooked as travelers on luxury tours of Thailand dash about the countryside on Golden Triangle elephant treks, or spend their evenings sharing dinner with the hill tribes.
The Oub Kham Museum is a great chance to view the distinct style of the Lanna kingdom that ruled this area through the 13th century, and the cafes in the area serve particularly splendid coffee made from the region's coffee bean plantations.
Wat Rong Khun (The White Temple) is a particularly unique monastery created just before the millennium by a Buddhist artist turned architect. From a distance, this modern reimagining of a traditional Thai temple looks like an ice sculpture.
Chiang Saen is nearby and the exact coordinates of the Golden Triangle can be reached from the banks of the Mekong (Mae Khong) River from here by boat.
Visitors are allowed to cross the border into Myanmar with no visa to explore the Burmese border town of Thakilek, though you will see few western tourists here. The small town is easily explored on foot and is much like traveling back in time.
The rains June through October are light. The best time to visit is during the temperate season running from November through January as the highest temperatures are February through May.
Thailand’s northernmost province and its capital city are best accessed via a flight from Bangkok to Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport, which is just a few miles outside of the city.
Cultural enthusiasts looking to sample the distinct flavors of Northern Thailand spiced with hints of China, Myanmar, and Laos find this destination particularly attractive on their Thailand tours. The relaxed atmosphere makes Chiang Rai a great place to see by bike.
Appropriate Attire :
Western wear is fine in town, but if your itinerary plans should bring you to any temple grounds, or if you’re planning a visit to the hill tribes, it’s best to cover your arms, shoulders, and legs as a sign of modesty.