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Chiang Rai is the capital of Chiang Rai Province, Northern Thailand. The town has a population of around 62,000 and is the main commercial centre serving the Golden Triangle border region of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. It is an excellent base for exploring the region.
The city was founded by King Mengrai in 1262 and became the capital of the Mengrai dynasty. Subsequently, Chiang Rai was conquered by Burma and remained under Burmese rule for several hundred years. It was not until 1786 that Chiang Rai became Chiang Mai vassal. After Siam or Thailand annexed Chiang Mai in 1899 Chiang Rai was proclaimed a province of Thailand in 1933.
Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI) is located on Phaholyotin Road 8 kilometres from downtown Chiang Rai. Car rental is available on arrival from Avis.
At a desk in the airport you can hire a taxi for a fixed price of B300, and it will take you downtown to your hotel, or the driver will find you one if you give him the price range you want to pay.
The airport is served by AirAsia , Orient Thai and Thai Airways to Bangkok and SGA Airlines to Chiang Mai. Despite the name, the airport has no international connections at all.
There are two bus stations in Chiang Rai. The old bus station and new bus station. There is a songthaew' (officially a "minibus") connecting the two bus terminals. It costs 10 baht per person and takes 15 minutes. Some drivers ask you to pay more if there are fewer than 10 passengers, despite what the official price list posted inside the songthaew says. You can just wait for the next one and pay 10 baht.
The nearest train station is at Chiang Mai.
Wat Phra Kaeo
This beautiful Buddhist temple on Trairat Road right in town is famous for having housed, in the 14th century, the Emerald Buddha, one of the most famous Buddha images in Thailand. According to legend, the statue was (re)discovered when a bolt of lightning hit a chedi (stupa) on the grounds, cracking it open and revealing the Buddha inside. The temple grounds are lush with greenery and house a compact but excellent two-story airconditioned museum, with a near-exact replica (1mm shorter!) of the Emerald Buddha. The original is now housed in Bangkok in the temple of the same name, on the grounds of the Royal Palace.
Wat Phra Sing
Wat Phra Sing is located near the townhall used to house a major Buddha statue, the Phra Buddha Sihing, which is now enshrined in Chiang Mai. Like Wat Phra Kaeo, the temple now houses a replica instead. A special feature is the Lanna-style Ubosot and the wooden door panels carved by Chiang Rai contemporary craftsmen.
White Temple located at Ban Rong Khun, Tambon Pa O Don Chai, along Phahonyothin roadside at Km. 816, approximately 13 km from the city. This unique modern temple was designed and built by artist Chaloemchai Khositphiphat starting in 1998. A beautiful white ordination hall – Phra Ubosot - is decorated with silver glittering pieces of mirrors. There are large mural paintings of the Lord Buddha in different gestures. A gable is decorated with a gable apex, a leaf-shaped gable-edging – in the shapes of Phya Naga, dragon and mythical creatures, which are entirely made of white stucco. There are viharn, small hall for recitation surrounding the ordination hall, museum and reception pavilion. The gallery exhibits paintings of Chaloemchai Khositphiphat. Posters, drawing albums and T-shirts can be purchased. Work on the temple continues to this day, and it is not expected to be completed for the next few decades. The earnings will contribute to the fund for building the temple. It opens daily at 8.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. Call Tel: 0 5367 3579 Fax: 0 5367 3539. It's easy to get to the Temple by public transportation: There is a public bus from the Chiang Rai bus statio
Oub Kham Museum
Oub Kham Museum The collection embraces objects used in the royal courts such as Lanna, Khum Chao Phare and Khum Chao Chiang Mai some parts are from northeast Myanmar, southwest China and Vietnam which are about 500-1,000 years old. Visitors can admire 120 year-old ancient fabrics, Sin Mai Kham-golden silk skirt-from the Mandalay, the golden throne, king’s golden costumes and silver ornaments. A golden bowl used by royals, is a masterpiece. All of those show the glory of the kingdom in the past. It opens daily from 09.00-17.00 hrs. Admission for adults is 200 Baht and for children 100 Baht
Black House/Black Temple
Black House/Black Temple Created by Thailand national artist Thawan Duchanee, the grounds include nearly 40 small black houses made of wood, glass, concrete, bricks or terracotta in various unique styles and design scattered around the temple’s area. The cluster of houses accommodates Thawan’s collections of paintings, sculptures, animal bones, skins, horns and silver and gold items from around the world. Several of the houses exhibit Balinese and Burmese architecture and art dating back to the Ayutthaya period. The artist uses bones as a source of inspiration to paint. It is definately not a place for animal lovers. There are also various kinds of baskets and drums from many regions and countries on display at Ban Dam. Unfortunately, not all exhibits are open to public. It is open daily from 9am to 5pm to everyone except tour groups, and admission is free. For more information or to arrange group visits, call 08-9767-4444 or 05-370-5834. It is located about 10 km north of the city at Moo 13, Tambon Nang Lae, Muang, Chiang Rai. After driving 1.9 kms past the Chaing Rai University on Hwy 1, turn left into Soi 13, go 470 metres & turn left into a small soi, proceed 360 metres & it is on the left on a right hand corner.
Namtok Khun Kon Forest Park
Namtok Khun Kon Forest Park can be reached by taking Highway No.1211 from town. After 18 kilometres, turn right and proceed on for another 12 kilometres. Or go along Highway No. 1 (Chiang Rai-Phayao) for about 15 kilometres where there is a right turn to proceed further another 17 kilometres, then a 30-minute walk to the waterfall. The highest and most scenic waterfall in Chiang Rai, Khun Kon, is some 70 metres in height. Along the route to the site are cool, shady natural surroundings suitable for relaxation and nature walk. It is somewhat of a walk from the parking area, and it is quite hilly, so if you are not reasonably fit for a half hour walk over undulating terrain, then do not try it.
November - February
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