Chiang Rai - Surrealistic Mountain Scenery
In northern Thailand, bordering Burma to the north and Laos to the east, mountainous Chiang Rai is Thailand's northern-most province, and thus its coolest as it lies an average of 580 metres (1,900 feet) above sea level.
The region's attractions range from magnificent mountain scenery, ruins of ancient settlements, historic sites, Buddhist shrines and attractive ethnic villages. The province is the home of the hill tribes, a collective term for the minority ethnic groups in the North of Thailand such as the Karen, Akha, Lisu, Meo and Muser. Exotic hilltribe crafts of jewellery, silverware, textiles and embroideries have also blossomed in popularity throughout Thailand and overseas.
Chiang Rai province is located within the renowned Golden Triangle area where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand converge. Historically the Golden Triangle was infamous for its connection to the opium trade, but relentless efforts by the Thai Royal family have transformed the agricultural landscape to one of coffee, tea, fruits and highland crops in neat terraced fields.
Chiang Rai, the provincial capital, lies 785 kilometers north of Bangkok. It was founded in 1262 by King Meng Rai and was the first capital of the Lanna Thai Kingdom (Kingdom of a Million Rice Fields). For over 700 years Chiang Rai was at a crossroad of cultural diversities between Thailand, Laos, Burma and Southern China. Today, locals selling produce from their farms mingle with western tourists in streets lined with hotels, spas and quaint shops. It has also become a starting point for visitors embarking on their adventures to explore the region's captivating scenic beauty.
The major attractions of Chiangrai province include: Phra That Doi Tung, Chiang Saen National Museum, The Golden Triangle, Doi Mae Salong, The border town Maesai, Pu Kaeng Waterfall, Elephant Riding and Rafting.
Chiang Rai has an international airport which is not only a gateway for tourists to the region but also for businessmen due to its proximity to Burma, Laos and Southern China. Several flights are available to and from Bangkok daily; flight time is about 1 hour and 30 minutes.