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Chiang Rai is 785 kilometres north of Bangkok, in the midst of the mountains and hills of Chiang Rai Province. Overlooked by many travellers - who favour nearby Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai has retained a rustic charm and a laid back atmosphere. It's cheaper and cooler than Chiang Mai and Bangkok.
There is also an interesting night market in the centre every weekend with handicrafts. One of the most interesting experiences is to visit the local hill-tribe villages. This is also popular amongst Thai students who come here to volunteer or do apprenticeships. It is therefore possible to meet a lot of young Thais and learn about both Thai culture and the hill-tribe culture.
One factor which may be blamed for the town's low tourist profile is its reputation for being a hub of the drug traffic - Chiang Rai is part of the notorious "Golden Triangle", a region encompassing bits of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. The Golden Triangle was, and still is, notorious for its drug trade, but strict enforcement by the United States and Thailand has helped decrease the drug trade. Education has also played an important part in bringing about this change.
There are many activities you can indulge like visiting:
If you are a nature lover, go to the mountains. For example Doi Tung which has a sacred hilltop Buddhist shrine built in 911 AD and it is believed that the left collar bones of Lord Buddha is enshrined in the twin pagodas. On your way up, enjoy the panoramic view then drop in to visit the Akha and Lahu hill-tribe village famous for their hand woven textiles and silver jewelries.
Not satisfied with one mountain? Venture to Thailand’s little Switzerland, the Doi Mae Salong, incidentally “doi” means mountain. It sits on an elevation of 6,000 feet above sea level. The air is cool and refreshing throughout the year. The settlers are ethnic Chinese descendants of the KMT nationalist army who took refuge in Thailand to escape from the Communist forces of Mainland China more than 50 years ago. The settlement has its own Christian churches, Buddhist temples, schools, locally produced oolong black tea, shops and restaurants.
Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI) is the main gateway to the city. Why it's called an international airport, is not entirely sure though, as currently there are only flights to/from Chiang Mai and Bangkok.
From Thaton you can take a long-tail boat trip on the Mae Nam Kok (Kok River)
which takes half a day. The regular passenger boat costs approx 350bt/person departing at 12:30pm.
Or you can charter your own boat for 2,200bt.
A Samlor can be hired in town for approx 30bt. Tuktuks are normally double that, and a shared songtiaw (local pick up)
Bicycles and motorbikes can be hired at ST Motorcycle (053 713652). Bicycles 60-100bt/day, motorbikes 150-700bt/day
Many guesthouses also have bikes for rent.
|Baan Rub Aroon||65 Ngammuang Rd Wieng, Muang||Guesthouse||85|
|Laluna Hotel & Resort||160 Moo 14 Sanambin Rd. Muang Chiang Rai, 57000 Th||HOTEL||-|
|Pankled Villa (Buffalo Hill Guesthouse)||481 Moo24, T.Robvieng, A.Muang, Chiang Rai 57000||Guesthouse||72|
|Rai Saeng Arun||2 Moo 3 Baan Pakhub Tambon Rimkong, Chiangkhong||HOTEL||-|
|The North Hotel||612/100/101 Sirikorn Market, T. Wiang, A. Muang||Hotel||75|
|HOSTELLING INTERNATIONAL SABUN-NGA CHIANGRAI||226/50 Muang||Hostel||-|
|The Imperial Golden Triangle Resort||222 Golden Triangle, Chiang Sa||Hotel||-|
|Suanthip Vana Resort||49 Chiang Mai -Chiang Rai Road Takok, Mae Suai||Hotel||-|
|Phu Chaisai Mountain Resort & Spa||388 Moo 4 Ban Mae Salong Nai Mae Chan||Hotel||-|
|Doi Tung Lodge||31 Ban Ton Nam Doi Tung Mae Fah Luang||Hotel||-|
|The Greater Mekong Lodge||Close to tbe Mekhong River in the Golden Triangle Park, Ban Sop-Ruak, Chiang Saen||Hotel||-|
|Maimuang Homestay||87 Moo2, Tumbol Rimkok, Muang, ChiangRai||Guesthouse||-|
|Prai Nurn Resort||13 Banhuafai Bandu, Muang||Hotel||-|
|Chote'Home Gallery @ Chiang Rai||123 Moo18 Prasobsuk rd. Chiang Rai||HOTEL||-|
|City Home Guest House||868 Phahon Yothin Road||HOSTEL||79|
|Baandin Laguna Resort||333,Srimuangchum Mae-Sai||Hotel||-|
|Ban Chomna Resort||13/1 M.9T.Paoordonchai A.Muang||HOTEL||-|
|Chiangkhong Teak Garden Hotel||666 Saiklang Rd, Moo 8, Wieng||Hotel||-|
|FUN-D Hostel Chiang Rai||753 Phahonyothin Rd., Wiang, Muang||HOSTEL||85|
There are countless internet bars across the country in big and small towns. Internet cafés are widespread and most are inexpensive. Prices as low as 15 baht/hour are commonplace, and speed of connection is generally reasonable, but many cafes close at midnight. Higher prices prevail in major package-tourist destinations (60 baht/hour is typical, 120 baht/hour is not unusual). Keyloggers are all too often installed on the computers in cheap cafes, so be on your guard if using online banking, stock broking or even PayPal. Remember that in the smaller towns and more traditional areas the owners and staff of internet bars prefer if customers take off their shoes at the entrance and leave them outside. This might seem strange although this gesture goes a far way to make friends and give a positive image of foreigners to Thai people.
Outside the most competitive tourist areas, free Wi-Fi is not as common as in neighbouring countries in many budget hotels and guesthouses and they may charge small fee for Internet by LAN or Wi-Fi even if you bring your own laptop. Wi-Fi is commonly available in cafes and restaurants serving Westerners.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The international code for Thailand is 66. 999 connects to all emergency services. Standard GSM emergency number 112 is supported in mobile networks. 911 for Tourist Police Department, English available.
For mobile phone users, Thailand has three GSM mobile service providers - AIS, DTAC and Truemove - which may be useful if you have a mobile phone that will work on either one or both of the GSM 900 or 1800 frequency bands (consult your phone's technical specifications). If you have one, you can buy a prepaid SIM card for any of the Thai carriers in any convenience store for as little as 50-200 baht and charge it up as you go. Using your own mobile phone while on holiday with a Thai pre-paid SIM card can save a lot of money and lets you give your number to family back home, so they can have an emergency contact number.
Thailand Post is the Thai postal service that deals with all local and international mail in Thailand. The business is operated from local post offices. Post offices are easy to recognise with their red white and blue motifs and the words 'Thailand Post' in English and Thai above the entrance. They are open from Monday to Saturday, usually 8:30am to 4:30pm (main ones until around 8:00pm), though keeping shorter hours on Saturdays (usually until 1:00pm). They are generally closed on Sundays and Public Holidays. Each post office offers a comprehensive service which includes an Express Mail Service (EMS) and parcel post. They also have a price calculator for letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. They also have a track and trace system and money transfer services. If you want to send packages, it might be a good idea to check with private courier companies like DHL, TNT or UPS, as they are fast, reliable and generally quite competitively priced.
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