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Chiang Rai Attractions

AMPHOE CHIANG KHONG

Chiang Khong, Chiang RaiChiang Khong
Chiang Khong is a small, peaceful district on the bank of the Mekong River opposite Huaixai, Lao PDR. It is about 115 kilometers from the provincial seat, or approximately 55 kilometers to the east of Chiang Saen on Highway No. 1129. Chiang Khong is noted as the place where Pla Buk, giant catfish, is cultivated. The Chiang Khong Fishery Station is able to inseminate and breed Pla Buk, the largest fresh water fish in the world and fingerlings bred here have been released in several rivers. It should be noted that the fishing season is from mid-January to May.

Sightseeing trips by boat are available to view the scenery and life styles along the Mekong River. An additional attraction is a visit to Ban Hat Bai, a Thai Lu community noted for making beautiful local fabrics. To cross over to Huaixai town in Lao PDR, contact the immigration office or tour agencies at Chiang Khong.

AMPHOE CHIANG SAEN

Chiang Saen
An ancient town located on the bank of the Mekong River, Chiang Saen was originally called Wiang Hiran Nakhon Ngoen Yang. It served as the capital of the Lanna Thai Kingdom until King Mengrai established Chiang Rai as the capital in 1262. Ruins of the old double city walls and many other antiquities remain both inside and outside the district town. Most notable is the distinctive style of Buddhist sculpture which evolved in Chiang Saen during the late thirteenth century providing proof of the city's historical importance.

Rich cultural heritage, coupled with natural tourist attractions, has made Chiang Saen a unique tourist destination.

Travelling to Chiang Saen

By car: This riverside town facing the Mekong River is 30 kilometers from Mae Chan District via Highway No. 1016. Alternatively, it can be reached by taking Highway No. 110 from Chiang Rai (the city), then take a right turn into Highway No. 1016 and proceed for another thirty kilometers.

Rental car: It may probably be easier rent a car in Chiang Rai and then drive to Chiang Saen, but renting a motorbike may be a better bet as the roads one will probably explore in the area are easier to negotiate by two wheeled transport.

Buses: There are numerous buses traveling from Chiang Rai to Chiang Saen for around 20 baht one way. The trip can take from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the traffic and the number of stops it makes en-route. If you travel from Chiang Mai, it is advisable to ask for the 'new route' (sai mai) as this only takes 4 to 5 hours and makes only a few stops en-route. The old route can take over 9 hours to complete with many stops along the way.

Chiang Saen Lake
Drive five kilometers south of Chiang Saen, along Highway No. 1016 (Chiang Saen-Mae Chan route), take a left turn and you will find Chiang Saen Lake: a large natural reservoir with scenic surroundings. The lake is home to large flocks of migratory waterfowls which are most plentiful and can be seen at their best from November through February. In addition to the scenery, accommodations and water sports facilities are available.

Chiang Saen National Museum
Located in old town Chiang Saen, this museum exhibits artifacts excavated locally including a well-known Chiang Saen-style bronze Buddha image and Lanna Thai artifacts. Inscription stones from Phayao and Chiang Saen itself can be found in the museum. In addition, there are exhibitions of indigenous art objects of the Thai Yai, Thai Lu and other hill tribes. These items include musical instruments, ornaments and opium-smoking accessories. The museum is open on Wednesdays through Sundays from 9.00a.m. to 4.00p.m., except on national holidays.

Hall of Opium, Golden Triangle Park
The Hall of Opium at the Golden Triangle Park houses several sections to be explored and various exhibitions to be contemplated. For example, the 5,600 square-meter Hall of Opium presents An Invitation to the Mysterious World of Opium from Darkness to Light, the history of opium as of 5,000 years ago from its natural properties to its uses. It traces opium's global journey through trade routes in the age of imperialism, culminating in the Opium Wars-an event that disgraced both winners and losers that led to the fall of the Manchu Dynasty. It also features Siamese wisdom in confronting the West and the eventual control of opium problems.

Other exhibits are presented in a manner that encourages visitors learn how drugs become a part of everyday life and understand the impact of opium on society in terms of crime, conflict and illegal drugs. Additionally, the Hall of Opium presents efforts to curb drugs through actual case studies that offer alternatives and opportunities in fighting against the temptation of drugs.

The Hall of Opium also displays paraphernalia associated with opium smoking and trading, along with many photographs, films, and videos about opium and other illegal drugs from countries around the world.

The Hall of Opium is situated in Chiang Saen District, opposite the Anatara Golden Triangle Resort and Spa: Tel: 0 5378 4444 Fax: 0 5365 2133,
E-mail: hallofopium@doitung.org, Website: www.goldentrianglepark.com

Phra That Doi Pu Khao
Just two kilometers away from Chiang Saen Lake is Phra That Doi Pu Khao which is believed to have been built by a king of Wiang Hirannakhon Ngoen Yang in the middle of the 8th century. This riverside temple near Sop Ruak Market is located on a hill just before the Golden Triangle and offers a spectacular view of the Golden Triangles riverine and mountain areas. The vihan and crumbled chedis are the only visible remains of antiquities today.

Phra That Pha Ngao
Located about 4 kilometres along the Chiang Saen - Chiang Khong Road is Phra That Pha Ngao which has a bell-shaped chedi situated on large boulders. Nearby is a vihan where several old Chiang Saen-style Buddha statues are enshrined. This hilltop temple offers a unique and spectacular view of the Mekong River, Laos and of Chiang Saen itself.

The Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle, Chiang RaiA trip to Chiang Rai province would not be complete without seeing the notorious Golden Triangle first hand! This famed border location where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet on the Mekong River was once supposed to be the center of all the poppy cultivation in Thailand.

Travel approximately 9 kilometers north of old town Chiang Saen, along the road parallel to the Mekong River to the area where the borders of Thailand, Myammar and Laos converge. This area where the Mekong River meets the Ruak River is locally referred to as "Sop Ruak". Within this area are remains of many ancient places and structures attesting to the fact that the area had been settled by people in the past. It is also the area where various legends concerning the Lanna ancestors originate.

Boats can be hired in order to view the upstream scenery of the Golden Triangle and to travel downstream to Chiang Khong. The trip to the Golden Triangle and Chiang Khong would take approximately 40 minutes and 1 hour respectively, depending on river currents and water levels.

Wat Pa Sak
Located outside the city walls, approximately one kilometer to the west of Chiang Saen in Tambon Wiang is Wat Pa Sak, which used to be the resedence of the patriarch. When King Saen Phu built the temple in 1295, three hundred teak trees were planted hence the name Pa Sak (Teak Forest). With ornamental stucco motifs, the temples chedi, which is 12.5 meters tall with a base of 8 meters wide, is regarded as being one of the most beautiful examples of Lanna architecture in northern Thailand.

Wat Phra That Chedi Luang
Next to Chiang Saen National museum is an ancient 88-meter high, bell-shaped, Lanna style principal chedi which has a 24 meter circumference base. Constructed in 1290 by King Saen Phu, the 3rd ruler of the Lanna kingdom, it is the tallest religious Lanna monument in Chiang Rai. In addition, there are also remains of ancient vihans and chedis.

Wat Phra That Chom Kitti
Located approximately 1.7 kilometres from town, this hilltop temple has a pagoda containing a Buddha relic.

Wat Sangkha Kaeo Don Han
Situated not far away from Wat Phra That Chom Kitti is Wat Sangkha Kaeo Don Han where sketches on brick slabs tell stories about the various reincarnations of the Lord Buddha.

AMPHOE MAE CHAN

Mae Chan
Mae Chan, which is about 29 kilometers to the north of Chiang Rai, serves as a trading post where the Akha and Yao hill people sell their goods and buy manufactured items. Silver and other tribal handicrafts are available at local shops.


AMPHOE MAE FA LUANG

Doi Mae Salong
Doi Mae Salong is the site of Santi Khiri village, a community settled by the former Chinese 93rd Division who moved from Myanmar to reside on Thai territory in 1961. The village became well known for its enchanting scenery and tranquil atmosphere. Today it is a major tourist attraction with its small-town ambience, delicious native Chinese dishes, small hotels and guesthouses catering to visitors and tea, coffee and fruit tree plantations. The scenery is especially picturesque in December and January when sakuras are in full bloom. Scattered with many hill tribe villages, Doi Mae Salong is ideal for trekking.

To reach Doi Mae Salong, take the Chiang Rai-Mae Chan route for 29 kilometers, then turn left and proceed for another 41 kilometers (passing a hot spring). The return trip can be taken on routes nos. 1234 and 1130 which wind through Yao and Akha hill tribe villages. From Doi Mae Salong a road leads to Tha Thon, the starting point for the Kok River cruise, a distance of 45 kilometers. There are hotels and guesthouses to accommodate tourists and a paved road leading to the village.

Doi Pha Tang
Doi Pha Tang is located 32 kilometers from Wiang Kaen District and 160 kilometers from the provincial town. The scenic mountain is the home to the Chinese Haw, the Hmong and Yao minorities. The Haws are the former 93rd Chinese Division who moved to settle on Doi Pha Tang. From the hilltop, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Thai and Lao rural areas. The mountain is more popular during winter when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and a sea of mist covers the whole area.

Doi Tung
Doi Tung is located in Mae Fa Luang District and can be reached by taking Highway No.110 for about 48 kilometers and turning left onto Highway No. 1149, an asphalt road leading directly to Doi Tung. The route winds through beautiful scenery with many interesting sites including the Doi Tung Palace (Pra Tamnak Doi tung), the Mae Fa Luang Garden and Akha and Muser tribal villages. IN addition to scenic lookouts, the most notable attraction is the Phra That Doi Tung Holy Relic, an old religious site atop the mountain.

Also located on Doi Tung Mountain is a beautiful royal residence known as Phra Tamnak Doi Tung. The royal villa, situated on the slopes of the adjacent Pa Kluay Reservoir, was to serve as a royal winter retreat for the Princess Mother, who passed away in 1995 and was originally built on the theory that the local hill tribes would be honored by the royal presence and thereby cease their opium cultivation.

The main attraction for visitors to Phra Tamnak Doi Tung is 'Suan Mae Fa Luang', the beautiful landscaped gardens filled with hundreds of different kinds of plants and flowers, named in honor of the Princess Mother and the Doi Tung Development Project established by the late Princess Mother in 1987.

Wat Phra That Doi Tung
Wat Phra That Doi Tung is situated on top of Doi Tung Mountain, the highest mountain in Chiang Rai Province with an elevation of approximately 2,000 meters, about 50 kilometers south of Mae Sai town which is near the Myanmar border. The temple can be reached via a 40-kilometer mountain road which meanders along the mountainside. The journey is worthwhile as the panoramic views into Laos and Myanmar at the peak are spectacular.

Wat Phra That Doi Tung was constructed in the 10th century and was renovated by Chiang Rai's most famous ruler King Mengrai during the 13th century and by the famous Chiang Mai monk, Khru Ba Siwichai, at the turn of the 20th century.

The temple complex is comprised of twin Lanna style chedis, one of which is said to contain the left collarbone of the Lord Buddha. Throughout the year, the holy relic draws devout Buddhists from all over Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.

AMPHOE MAE SAI

Doi Hua Mae Kham
Doi Hua Mae Kham is the domicile of the hill tribes near the Thai-Burmese border, about three hours by road along the Mae Chan-Ban Thoet Thai-Ban Huai In route which winds along the steep mountain edges. The inhabitants are predominantly of the Lisu tribe, with a smattering of the Akha, Hmong and Muser tribes. Doi Hua Mae Kham is most spectacular in November when the yellow wild sunflowers are in full bloom.

Mae Sai
Mae Sai which is about 62 kilometers from the provincial seat on Highway No. 110 is Thailand's northern-most district. Mae Sai borders on Myanmar's Tha Khi Lek marked by the Mae Sai River with a bridge spanning both sides. Foreign visitors are allowed to cross over to Tha Khi Lek market by presenting their passports and paying a fee at the Mae Sai immigration checkpoint. In addition, there are tour services to Chiang Tung in Myanmar, which is approximately 160 kilometers north by road.

AMPHOE MUEANG

Hilltribe Museum
The Population and Community Development Association (PDA) is a non-government organization responsible for some of the most effective tribal development projects in the region. The popular "Cabbages & Condoms" restaurants, with branches here and in Bangkok (and now a resort in Pattaya), carry their important message of safe sex and family planning. On the top floor of this office is a small Hilltribe Museum that's heavy on "shop" and light on "museum," but the admission goes to a good cause. Open daily 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; admission fee is 50B ($1.20)/person. Address: 620/25 Thanalai Rd., east of Wisetwang Road (tel. 0 5371-9167)

Ho Watthanatham Nithat
Ho Watthanatham Nithat is a museum exhibiting ancient artifacts and written records on history, literature and indigenous knowledge as well as exhibits on royal activities by the late Princess Mother at Doi Tung. Located at the former town hall, it is open to the public on Wednesdays through Sundays from 8.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.

King Mengrai Stupa
The King Mengrai Stupa in front of Wat Ngam Muang atop Doi Ngam Muang in Muang District was built by King Chaisongkram to contain the remains of his father (King Mengrai).

King Mengrai the Great Memorial
The King Mengrai the Great Memorial is located in Muang District at the intersection leading to Mae Chan. King Mengrai was the ruler of Nakhon Hiran Ngoen Yang (now commonly known as Chiang Saen) before Chiang Rai was established as the administrative centre in 1262. He consolidated his power by merging the different city-states in the North and founded the Lanna Thai Kingdom in 1296 with Chiang Mai as the capital.

Kok River
The Kok River is one of the most scenic attractions in Chiang Rai. It runs from Thathon in northern Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai City and then flows on to meet the Maekhong River at Chiang Khong. From Baan Thathon boats, rafts and treks leave daily venturing into the surrounding mountains where the jungle dips into the river's cool waters. A long-tailed boat can be hired to ferry visitors up and down the river. Stops can be made at Akha or Iko, Lisu and Karen hill tribe villages. Alternatively stops can be made at the Buddha cave, a temple within a cavern; an elephant camp, for trekking; a hot spring; and a riverside Lahu village. Trips range from 300 bahts to 700 bahts ($7-$16), depending on the number of stops made. The ferry pier is beyond the bridge across from the Dusit Island Resort.

Ku Phra Chao Mengrai
Ku Phra Chao Mengrai This stupa is situated in Wat Ngam Muang on Doi Ngam Muang in the Chiang Rai township area. It is the place where the ashes and relics of King Mengrai are housed.

Nam Tok Khun Kon Forest Park
Nam Tok Khun Kon Forest Park can be reached by taking Highway No.1211 from Chiangrais town. After traveling 18 kilometers turn right and proceed for another 12 kilometers. Alternatively, you can drive along Highway No. 1 (Chiang Rai-Phayao) for about 15 kilometers, turn right and proceed for another 17 kilometers, then take a 30-minute walk to the waterfall. The 70-metre high Khun Kon or Tat Mok Waterfall is the highest and most beautiful in the province. Surrounded with dense woods, the area is also good for hiking.

Oub Kham Museum
Oub Kham Museum is located near Den Ha market, one kilometer from the town center. The collection includes objects from the areas once belonging to or affiliated with the Lanna kingdoms encompassing northern Thailand and some parts of northeast Myanmar, southwest China and Vietnam. Apart from objects used in rituals the collection mainly consists of objects used at the royal courts including lacquer ware, silver jewelry and clothing. Most notable is a golden bowl, a masterpiece, used by royals. It is open daily from 9 am. to 6 pm. Admission fee is 100 bahts per person. For more information call 0-5371-3349.

Rai Mae Fah Luang

Rai Mae Fah Luang is a cultural centre and centre of Lanna Studies dedicated to the conservation and promotion of Lanna heritage.There are 5 exhibit areas namely
a. The Botanical Gardens and Nature Park
b. The Haw Khumm(Golden Pavilion)
c. The Haw Khum Noi (Small Golden Pavilion)
d. Sala Kaew-A ceremonial space for riturals
e. Haw Kaew-Gallery of Lanna Cultureal Arts.

Rai Mae Fah Luang opens daily from 10.00-18.00 hrs. except Monday.

Entrance fee: Baht 200

Wat Doi Thong
Wat Doi Thong (Phra That Chomthong) sits atop a hill above the northwest side of town, up a steep staircase off Kaisornrasit Road. This location where King Mengrai is believed to have chosen the site for his new Lanna Capital offers an overview of the town and a panorama of the Mae Kok Valley. The chedi of Wat Doi Tong containing what is believed to be the oldest Holy Relic was probably renovated at the same time that the town as being built. The circle of columns at the top of the hill surrounds the city's new lak muang (city pillar), built to commemorate the 725th anniversary of the city and King Bhumibhol's 60th birthday.

Wat Phra Chao Lan Thong
Wat Phra Chao Lan Thong is located within the city walls. This temple was built by Prince Thong Ngua, a son of King Tilokkarat, the 12th Lanna ruler in 1489. A 1,200-kilogram Buddha statue with a lap width of 2 meters and height of over three meters was cast and named Phra Chao Lan Thong. Another statue called Phra Chao Thong Thip which is made of brass in the Sukhothai style was also cast.

Wat Phra Kaeo
Wat Phra Kaeo, which is located on Trairat Road on the northwest side of town, is the best known of the northern temples. It once housed the Emerald Buddha, Thailands most important Buddha statue which was discovered in 1444. The statue had been moved by various state rulers to be placed in their capitals including Lampang, Chiang Rai and Vientiane before finally being enshrined in Bangkok's royal Wat Phra Kaeo. There is now a green jade replica of the image on display. The temple also houses a 700-year bronze statue of Phra Chao Lan Thong, which is housed in the Chiang Saen style ubosot.

Wat Phra Sing
Wat Phra Sing is 2 blocks east of Wat Phra Kaeo, situated on Singha Klai Road. The restored temple is thought to date from the 15th century. Inside is a replica of the Phra Singh Buddha, a highly revered Theravada Buddhist image, as the original was removed to Chiang Mai's Wat Phra Singh. The original buildings are fine examples of classic religious Lanna architecture, with their low sweeping roofs.

Wat Rong Khun
Wat Rong Khun is also known as the White Temple. Whereas most temples visited by tourists have a history going back many centuries, this magnificent place of worship was built only recently. It is the realization of a dream for Thailands noted artist, Mr Chalermchai Kositpipat, who designed and is supervising the construction of this beautiful white temple and its many statues of figures based on religious beliefs. The construction started in 1998 and is expected to be completed in 2008. In addition, there is a gallery nearby exhibiting his paintings. To get there from the city of Chiang Rai, drive north along Asia Highway.

AMPHOE PHAN

Doi Luang National Park
Doi Luang National Park is 65 kilometers south of Chiang Rai town and covers an area of 1,170 square kilometers in Phan District. Apart from hiking trails, the forested park features a few waterfalls of which the largest is Pu Kaeng Waterfall. This impressive fall has nine leaps and flows all year round. To reach Pu Kaeng Waterfall drive along the Chiang Rai-Phayao route for 58 kilometers to arrive at Ban Pu Kaeng. At kilometer 77, take a right turn and proceed on for another 9 kilometers. It is a large waterfall amid virgin jungle with water cascading down limestone brooks. Camping areas and jungle trekking services are available.

AMPHOE THOENG

Doi Pha Mon Agricultural Center
Doi Pha Mon is located at Amphoe Thoeng. During the winter months visitors are treated to splendid flower bed s of tulips, lilies, red salvia, poinsettias, etc. To get to Doi Pha Mon from the city, go along Highway No. 1020, then take Highway No. 1155. The journey takes approximately 2.5 hours.

Phu Chi Fa
Phu Chi Fa is approximately 25 kilometers to the south of Doi Pha Tang in Thoeng District. The cool climate produces colorful flowering shrubs and the large meadow on the top provides breathtaking views of Laos. In addition, spectacular scenery can be seen from the sheer cliff of Phu Chi Fa, especially the sea of mist at sunrise. Visitors can stay overnight at Ban Rom Fa Thong and Ban Rom Fa Thai.


AMPHOE WIANG PA PAO

Khun Chae National Park
Khun Chae National Park is located at Tambon Mae Chedi Mai of Wiang Pa Pao District. It can be reached by taking the Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai Route (Highway No. 118). The park headquarters is right next to the highway at kilometers 55-56. Visitors wishing to take a jungle trek and camp within the park need to procure the services of a guide and prepare their own camping equipment. The trek through the Khun Chae jungle is for adventure travel enthusiasts as the route passes through steep terrain and several hilltops and cliffs over 1,400 meters high. There are good scenic lookout points and trekkers can enjoy waterfalls, flowing streams and virgin jungle areas covered with various plants.

Wiang Kalong
Wiang Kalong, a newly-developed tourist attraction, is a community about 16 kilometers from the district office of Wiang Pa Pao. Ancient furnaces which were used to make terra cotta utensils called Kalong have been found in this area. The furnaces are shaped like turtle shells of various sizes with a width of 2 to 5 meters. To get there from the city, drive south along the Divided Highway No. 1 for 8 kilometers then take a right turn onto Highway No. 118 to Wiang Pa Pao (approximately 75-80 kilometers). For those wishing to travel from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai via the Doi Saket Highway No. 1014, it is highly recommended to stop over at Wiang Kalong as it is on the way to Chiang Mai.



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