Chiang Rai Travel Guide

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Orchids at Queen Mother's Garden near Chang Rai

Orchids at Queen Mother's Garden near Chang Rai

stuart

Chiang Rai is Thailand's most northern province and is frequented mostly by tourists and shoppers. Attractions include the famous Golden Triangle and the mighty Mekong River. A wealth of cultural diversity awaits those who take the time to explore the region.

The name Golden Triangle evokes an impression that illicit drugs are the activity of this area. Yes, it was once a notorious place. However, with strict enforcement by various countries particularly the United States and Thailand, playing an important role of eradicating the drug menace by educating the many hill-tribes to have a permanent settlement instead of the slash and burn to grow crops. Schools were built to educate their children on the Thai curriculum and welfare.

Changrai is 785 km north of Bangkok and is in the midst of mountains and hills. Across the great Mekong river is Myanmar and Laos, thus the name “Golden Triangle”. All nationalities can cross over to these countries easily by road, boats, or air with valid passports and visa. Being the first to establish into a city by King Mengrai of the Lanna Kingdom, it has many ancient ruins. There are many activities you can indulge like visiting the only handcrafted White Temple in Thailand; the ever changing flowers in the most beautiful botanical garden (Doi Tung); Hill-tribes, Opium or the National museum; elephant riding; shopping for foodstuff; clothing; jewelries; handicrafts or ride on a long propeller boat on the Mekong river; explore the natural rock formation and caves with spectacular formations e.g. Big Cave, Fish Cave.

Of course, if you are a nature lover, go to the mountains. Doi Tung – it 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 6000 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.

A better way to experience first hand the local foods, way of life and customs of the Northern Thai is through a village home stay.

 


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March 31, 2008 change by ekay (1 point)

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