Chiang Rai Province

Doi Tung Royal Villa Mae Sai Golden Triangle Chiang Saen Chiang Kong Chiang Rai Airport Chiang Rai City

Chiang Rai has become popular, but not quite over-run, among tourists looking for something of the old Thailand. Of course, Chiang Rai has only been a part of Thailand for a few hundred years, and only became a province less than a hundred years ago, in 1910.

Chiang Rai Province Map
Chiang Rai Province
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Base map image © OpenStreetMap contributors, CC BY-SA

The sights of Chiang Rai are often visited on a day-trip from Chiang Mai, but I would highly recommend a one or two-night stay in Chiang Rai town. Tours from Chiang Mai often skip the sights of the city, and it does have something different to offer.

The main attraction for tourists is the so-called Golden Triangle, where opium was once grown in abundance. However, those expecting a 'wild-west' atmosphere will be disappointed. What you will find are temples over 1,000 years old and small towns that aren't too spoiled by western tourism.

Other sights in the province include the Doi Tung Royal Villa, once the 'summer' home of the late Princess Mother. The mother of the current king initiated many projects in her lifetime aimed at bettering the lives of the rural poor, especially for the hill tribes on the fringes of Thai society. These projects have lived on, and the former Royal Lodge is now a beautifully landscaped garden.

Further afield, Chiang Khong is a popular border crossing point for people heading into Laos, especially up-river to Luang Prabang.