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Chiang Rai, Thailand's furthest northern province, is about 785 kms. from Bangkok and 580 meters above sea level. Its area, mostly covered with mountains, is 11,678 square kilometers. The most important river is Mae Kok; which is about 130 kilometers long.
Administration is divided into 13 Amphoes and 3 King Amphoes Muang, Chiang Kong, Chiang Saen, Mae Chan, Mae. Sai, Mae Suai, Pa Daet, Phan, Thoeng, Wiang Pa Pao, Wiang Chai, Phaya Mengrai, Wiang Kaen and King Amphoe Mae Fa Luang, Khun Tan, Mae Lao.
Chiang Rai was founded in 1262 A.D. by King Mengrai, whose 'statue can be easily seen on the way to Mae Chan. It used to be the capital of Lanna Kingdom and later was conquered by Burma. It was not until 1786 that Chiang Rai became Thai territory and proclaimed a province during the reign of King Rama VI in 1910 A.D. Nowadays Chiang Rai is famous for its tasty lychees and the Golden Triangle in Amphoe Chiang Saen.
CHIANG RAI's ATTRACTIONS
Monument of King Mengrai the Great This monument is situated at the starting point of the road to Mae Chan, Chiang Saen and Mae Sai.
Ku Phra Chao Mengrai This stupa is situated in Wat Ngam Muang on Doi Ngam Muang in Chiang Rai Township area. It is the place where ashes and relics of King Mengrai are housed.
Wat Phrasing Where legend holds that an important The ravada image was located, has been restored for many times to allow accurate dating, but documents suggest the 15th century or earlier.
Wat Phra Keo Situated behind Wat Phrasing, is believed to have been the original residence of the Emerald Buddha which is now in Bangkok at the Royal Temple of the same name.
Phrathat Doi Chom Thong This pagoda is located on Doi Chom Thong on the bank of Mae Kok River near the city of Chiang Rai.
Handicraft Center is about 3 kilometers from town on Mae Chan Road. It offers demonstration of weaving and ceramic making, sales of goods made at the center and Burmese goods.
Mae Fa Luang Farm is a foundation located at Ban Pa Ngiu, Tambon Robwiang, about 3 - 4 kilometers from Chiang Rai township. The foundation is a temporary shelter for hilltribe children.
Rafting The Mae Kok River, 130 kms. long, running through the heart of Chiang Rai, is said to be one of the most beautiful and unspoil rivers of the world. It flows gently along jungle banks and towering mountain cliffs. Along its route lie several hilltribes and jungle - tribes of Chiang Rai. The people are friendly and the life aboard the raft relaxing. There are regular well - organized rafting trips to and from Chiang Rai to many interesting destinations: A popular tours rafting from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, or vice versa.
Rattana Garden Situated along Chiang Rai Mae Chan Highway about 18 kms. from the city. This scenic place, under the management of the private sector, has the area of over 40 acres. It comprises of plants and flowers of different colour and species, together with accommodations provided for tourists.
Doi Luang National Park covers areas in Amphoe Phan, Amphoe Wiang Pa Pao of Chiang Rai, and some part of Lampang and Phayao. To get to the park is by taking Chiang Rai - Phayao Highway for 58 kms. to Ban Pu Kaeng, turn right at km. 773 for another 9 kms. Main attraction is Namtok Pu Kaeng It is the largest waterfall in Chiang Rai, having strong current cascading all year round.
Mae Sai is Thailand's northern most border district to Chiang Saen A small town about 30 kms. further from Mae Chan. Its lovely setting on the Mae Khong River strongly enchants the charm of its old temples ; Wat Pa Sak , Wat Phrathat Chom Kitti etc.
Wiang Ka Long is located along Chiang Rai-Chiang Mai Route, about 16 kms. from Amphoe Wiang Pa Pao. This is where the ancient kilns called "Ka Long Kiln" have been excavated.
Mae Chan is about 29 kms. to the north Chiang Rai. It serves as a trading post of Akha and Yao hillpeople who sell their goods and buy manufactured items. You can find some silver and other tribal handicrafts at the shops in this town.
Hilltribes There are many main tribes around Chiang Rai, Mae Chan, Mae Sai and along Mae Kok River such as the Yao, the Akha, the Blue and White Maeo, Lisu, Lahu, Lahu Shi and Skaw and Karen. Each main group speaks its own language, follows animist customs (based on a belief in spirits) as well as adhering to other more recently adopted religious beliefs. Each of the main tribes language, custom and production attracts tourists by its own mysterious charm. There is the Hilltribe Developments and Welfare Center in Amphoe Mae Chan, along the route to Doi Mae Salong. Hand-made handicraft including woven cloth products and silverware are for sale in the centre.
Doi Mae Salong located about 45 kms. to the north of Amphoe Mae Chan, is one of the places allowed by Thai Government for some of the Chinese refugees from Myanmar to settle in. The village founded is called Santi Khiri. It has become well-known among tourists both Thais and foreigners for its enchanting beautiful scenery, calm and placid nature. There are guest houses and tourist houses with recreation activities provided such as house riding and elephant riding.
Phrathat Doi Tung is the holy relic that draws devout Buddhists from as far as Laos and Myanmar for annual worshipping. The reliquary is atop the highest Chiang Rai mountain at Doi Tung, elevation 2,000 meters above sea-level. The shrine is reached by a torturous mountain road, winding its way up and down mountain sides for 17 kms. off Highway No. 110, 48 kms. from Chiang Rai township. The unmatched panoramic view reaches out to Myanmar and Laos on the horizon.
Phra Tamnak Doi Tung A beautiful royal residence is built for the Princess Mother on the way to Phrathat Doi Tung. The main attraction is Suan Mae Fa Luang , a very beautiful garden decorated with different kinds of plants and flowers. The garden is open to visitors daily from 06.00-18.00 hrs.
Chiang Saen National Museum is in Chiang Saen town and one of the most famous museums in Thailand for ancient Buddha images and antiques. The museum is open from 9.00 a.m. -16.00 p.m. everyday except Monday, Tuesday and official holidays.
Golden Triangle The most famous attraction where the borders of the three countries; Laos Thailand and Myanmar meet. It is about 9 kilometers north of Chiang Saen. From this place, Laotian and Myanma border can be seen through Mae Khong and Ruak River respectively. Accommodations are available for tourists who want to stay over night. Boats can be rented for trips along the Khong River.
Chiang Saen Lake To get to the lake, travel five kilometres from Chiang Saen along Highway No. 1016, turning left at Km. 27, for a further two kilometres. The lake's one square kilometre of water is home to waterfowl during the winter months. Accommodations are available.
Chiang Khong Located 114 kilometres northeast of Chiang Rai and 55 Kilometres east of Chiang Saen, this is a small district by the Khong River. Its fame lies in its cloth weaving at Ban Hat Bai and, in the Khong River, the Pla Buk the world's largest freshwater cat fish capable of reaching 2.5 metres long and weighing 300 kilograms. Each April celebrations are held when the giant fish are caught. At the Chiang Khong Fishery Station, fertilisation of the fish can be witnessed.
Lychee Fair This annual fair is held in May. Chiang Rai, Thailand's northernmost province, is known for the high quality of the lychees that grow in its orchards, and this fair celebrates the harvest season. In addition to sales of the fruit, there are displays of other agricultural products and local handicrafts and a beauty contest to select Miss Lychee.