Things to Do in Chiang Rai
Chiang Saen is a town in northern Thailand on the bank of the Mekong River that is known for its historic ruins. Though Chiang Saen is a small, sleepy town by modern standards, until the 14th century it was home to a powerful independent kingdom. Ruins of the ancient kingdom of Chiang Saen can still be seen, including temples, Buddha images, and the old city walls, and there is an excellent history museum.
Chiang Saen is also near the "Golden Triangle" where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet. The town offers hotels and guesthouses as well as restaurants, banks, and an immigration office.
Set at the intersection of Thailand, Laos and Burma (Myanmar) known as the “Golden Triangle,” the Hall of Opium Museum seeks to inform its visitors about the history and effects of the opium seed.
The Golden Triangle area is historically well-known for its role in the growth and distribution of opium. Tracing from its first use over 5,000 years ago to current abuse and addiction issues, learn about the opium trade’s past and present both in this area and worldwide. There are several educational multimedia exhibitions throughout, including ones on the process of production and the dangers of consumption. Walk through a dark tunnel to a flowerbed of poppies, the plant from which opium is derived, to enter.
Perched in the highlands near Chiang Rai some 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) above sea level, the Choui Fong Tea Plantation has been producing some of Thailand’s highest quality teas for nearly half a century. Benefitting from the rich soil and climate of the region, the plantation grows Assum, Oolong, green and black teas, which are handpicked and then blended by tea specialists from Taiwan.
Visitors to the Choui Fong Tea Plantation can see firsthand how tea is grown. Neat rows of tea trees cascade down a hillside, where workers can be seen carefully picking the leaves by hand. Next door to the plantation building is a cafe and shop, where you can sample teas and treats with stunning views overlooking the plantation or purchase teas or tea-themed souvenirs to take home.
The northernmost town in Thailand, and one of the few official crossings to Myanmar, Mae Sai is an ideal starting point for tours of the Golden Triangle. The Mae Sai Valley is in Chiang Rai province, and the busy border town at its heart is in a hilly location on cliffs bordering the Mae Nam Sai river.
Take a walk around the hilly town to visit Wat Phra That Doi Wao for views into Myanmar from the temple. Being a busy border town, Mae Sai has plenty of accommodation, food stalls and restaurants. Shops here sell Burmese lacquerware, gems and jade.
Doi Mae Salong is a mountain in northern Thailand with an elevation reaching 1,800 meters. The stunning scenery and cooler temperatures make it a popular retreat for Thais and tourists alike with activities such as mountain trekking, visiting hill-tribe villages, and touring tea plantations.
Nestled near the mountain is the village of Mae Salong (officially known as Santikhiri, meaning "hill of peace") which offers accommodations to suit all budgets. The village was originally settled by anti-communist exiles from China who were granted asylum by Thailand. The Chinese influence can still be sensed in the town's language and food.
The Lanna Kingdom, an area in Northern Thailand culturally distinct from any other region, was founded in the 1400s and became a vassal state in the late 1700s. The Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park, located just west of central Chiang Rai, houses the finest collection of Lanna art and artifacts in Thailand, including many teak pieces from across Northern Thailand.
Apart from the museum, the cultural park features several other points of interest dotted throughout its meticulously manicured grounds. Rising from the center is the Golden Pavilion (Haw Kham), a temple-like royal residence built in 1984 from the materials of 32 Thai wooden houses and presented to the Princess Mother on her 84th birthday.
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