Situated in the Kok River basin, Chiang Rai is located approximately 785 kilometres North of Bangkok and is Thailand’s northernmost province. Chiang Rai is located within Asia’s notorious Golden Triangle where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos converge; this northern Thailand province covers an area of area of around 11 678 square metres with an average elevation of 580 metres above sea level.
Founded in 1262 by King Meng Rai, Chiang Rai was the first capital of the Lanna Thai Kingdom which was later invaded and conquered by the Burmese people. In 1786 Chiang Rai became an official Thai territory and in 1910 during the reign of King Rama VI was proclaimed a Thai province.
Chiang Rai in the present is a popular traveller destination with many natural attractions and antiquities ranging from ruins of ancient settlements, historic sites, breathtaking mountain scenery and Buddhist shrines. Chiang Rai province is also home to many ethnic villages which belong to the several local hill tribes.
Chiang Rai Activities
Activities in Chiang Rai take full use of the scenic Northern Thailand countryside that is so special in this province. Boasting some excellent golf course at reasonable rates Chiang Rai is fast becoming one of the best places in Thailand for a round of 18 holes. Chiang Rai’s mountainous regions offer some excellent mountain biking trails particularly for Mountain bikers that follow the Mekong River offering exceptionally scenic views of neighbouring Myanmar and the lush rainforests. Rafting is another favourite in this area, and the Mae Kok River provides excellent rafting with its scenic landscape views with a magnificent mountain backdrop.
The most popular activity in Chiang Rai is the trekking, that can be arranged by many travel agents in the area, giving people a view not only of the beautiful natural Chiang Rai countryside but of the many ethnic Thai hill tribe people in Chiang Rai. If you are tired of walking then there are plenty of elephants in Chiang Rai that can help you travel through the mountains. Surprisingly agile along the narrow paths, elephant trekking can sometimes be a little uncomfortable but it is certainly an experience. Visitors to Chiang Rai are not recommended to trek in the mountains themselves without a guide, as it can be dangerous in parts; a guide and trekking tours that include elephant trekking can be organised cheaply by most travel agents, guesthouses and hotels in Chiang Rai.
Chiang Rai shopping
Shopping in Chiang Rai is a special treat and this Northern Province is well known for its cheap but quality handicrafts. Chiang Rai is also excellent shopping for Thai silk, silverware, jade and other gemstones and if you know what you are looking for, real bargains can be found.