Chiang Rai Travel Guide

Chiang Rai “The City of Arts and Historical”

Chiang Rai is another popular tourism province in northern Thailand, being full with nice atmosphere and surroundings. It is very easy to travel to. Just grab a plane ticket for about 800-1,000 Baht, not too expensive. Also, the travel time is not over 1 hour, if you start your trip from Bangkok the capital. Don’t worry about getting exhausted.

Historically, Chiang Rai’s story is quite similar to Chiang Mai’s, as they both were parts of Lanna Kingdom. Chiang Rai, in the past, used to be the homeland of Tai Yuan people, an ancient Thai ethnic group.  On top of that, it  was also the location of Ngoenyang Kingdom in around 7th to 13rd centuries, just before the period of Lanna Kingdom.

Geographical Information 

Nowadays, Chiang Rai consists of total 18 counties. Its border is located between Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, which is known as ‘The Land of Golden Triangle’.

Chiang Rai is about 11,678 square kilometred wide. Its landscape is mostly plateau, especially in Mae-Sruai County, Wiang-Pa-Pao County and Chiangkhong County. Mountain areas in Chiang Rai can be at 1,500-2,000 metred height above the sea level. Anyway, the highest peak of the province is Doi Lanka Luang, with 2,031 metred height.

About the climate, 24 Degree Celcius is the average temperature of Chiang Rai. This is quite cold, of course. Be sure to dress with thick costumes. This is almost the same number that appears on your air conditioner remote control. So, if you hate cold, you may consider going to Chiang Rai during February to the middle of May, because it is summer and the temperature will be at about 32 Degree Celcius. Try to avoid traveling during the end of May to the middle of October, if you don’t want your holiday to be ruined with heavy rain.

Administration Information 

Nowadays, Chiang Rai consists of total 18 districts. Its border is located between Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, which is known as ‘The Land of Golden Triangle’.

chiang rai map
  • Muang District
  • Wiangchai District
  • Chiang Khong District
  • Terng District
  • Pan District
  • Pa Dad District
  • Mae Chan District
  • Chiangsaen District
  • Mae Sai District
  • Mae Sruai District
  • Wiang Pa Pao District
  • Phaya Mengrai District
  • Wiangkhaen District
  • Khun Tan District
  • Mae Fa Luang District
  • Mae Lao District
  • Wiang Chiang Roong District
  • Doi Luang District

Population Information 

There are about 1.27 millions population in Chiang Rai. The most crowded area is Muang County, about 230 thousands people, because this is urban. And, the least crowded area is Doi Luang, only about 10 thousands people.

Ethnic Groups 

There are many different groups of population in Chianrai. Some of them are normal Thai people. But some of them are ethnic groups. 

Here are some brief informations.

  • Tai Yuan : This is the biggest groups. They are urban locals.
  • Lu People, Tai Kuen People, Shan People : These people are originally from the low land of Mekhong River and southern China.
  • Mong People, Akha People, Lahu People, Yao People, Karen People, Liso People : These are mountain ethnic groups.
  • Laos People : There were some Laos people evacuated from their homeland due to some political chaos 43 year ago.
  • Chinese People : Most of them were once the soldiers of Kuomintang Party.

Symbol Information

There are some symbols that reflect the identity of Chiang Rai.

First, the logo of the province appears as a white elephant under a cloud. This shows the brightness of Chiang Rai in the past, when King Mangrai was in a battle and defeated his enemies on an elephant’s back.

Second, the flower of the province is Pyrostegia venusta, or in Thai name  ‘Puang Saed’. The word ‘saed’ means ‘orange’ in English. And, so it is. The flower looks so beautiful with its orange color.

Lastly, the tree of the province is Radermachera ignea, or in Thai name ‘Ka Sa Long Kham’. The tree has been dedicated to Chiagrai in the year 1994 by Queen Sirikit.

flower of chiang rai

Transportation in Chiang Rai

Although a fairly remote province, Chiang Rai is fairly well connected to the rest of Thailand and can be reached via private car, public bus, or airplane. However, it is also possible to take a train or plane to nearby Chiang Mai an then a three hour bus ride to Chiang Rai. Once there, it may be easier to get around with your own car, but there are standard forms of local transport available for visitors

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Chiang Rai Ariport

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Bus Station

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Public Transport

Traditions In Chiang Rai 

If you have a chance of visiting a historic town like Chiang Rai, you shouldn’t miss seeing marvellous traditions that have been inherited since the ancient age. These traditions will teach you to learn about the value of art and culture from old days.

Here are some examples of interesting traditions in Chiang Rai.

  • Lychee Festival : If you love to taste this kind of juicy fruits, don’t miss the festival.Countless farmers set up booths to sell their products. Moreover, there will be Lychee Beauty Contest and Vehicle Parade Contest too. This festival is held annually in the middle of May.
  • King Mangrai Sacrifice : Beside of sacrificing King Mangrai as the main purpose, there will be many booths selling interesting merchandises. Also, entertaining performances will appear. The tradition is held 23rd January to 1st February.
  • Thai Lanna Heritage Reservation : This tradition is held annually during April. The atmosphere will be quite cheerful, as there will be many Lanna traditional performances. This is a perfect chance of learning art and culture in the past.

Here are the list of attraction in Chiang Mai.

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Chiang Rai Activities

Where to eat

There are many good restaurants in Chiang Rai, of course. If you’re the one who totally enjoy eating, here are some suggestions for you.

  • Khanom Jean Pa-Suk

‘Khanom Jean’ is one of the most popular dish of Thai people. It is made of floor, appearing as long and white thin stripes. Regularly, it is served up with spicy curry or soup on the top. So delicious!

If you’re interested in the dish, you can find it at ‘Khanom Jean Pa-Suk’ restaurant. It is located just in Muang County of Chiang Rai and opens daily, from 8:00-15:00.

  • Saloong Kham Chiang Rai

This is one of the eldest restaurants in Chiang Rai. Be sure not to miss it! You can never complete your trip to anywhere without eating traditional foods of your destinations. This restaurant provides you various Thai foods with good taste! Feel free to go and relax in the middle of its natural, woody atmosphere.

  • Phu-Lae Chiang Rai

Do you really want to go to northern Thailand and leave it without tasting the traditional foods first? No! Believe it, you don’t want to do that. That is why you should visit this urban restaurant, because Phu-Lae Chiang Rai serves northern Thai traditional dishes. It is decorated in leisure and natural style. You can enjoy eating everyday from 11:00-23:00.

  • Saharos Chiang Rai

Do you know the famous Clock Tower, the outstanding landmark of Chiang Rai? That’s right! This restaurant is located just nearby the Clock Tower. It serves clotted pig’s blood soup as the main dish. The good taste, clean food and quality are all guaranteed. The ingredients used for cooking are definitely fresh, as the restaurant doesn’t re-use same old materials. However, Saharos Chiang Rai doesn’t opens for too many hours. You can go there only during 6:00-14:00, just for breakfast and lunch.

  • Jo-Jaroenchai Chiang Rai

Another old restaurant of Chiang Rai, located just opposite Krungthong Hotel in Muang County. For those who love nice hot rice with curry or Thai dishes on top, mustn’t miss this one. There are various menu that you can choose. Or if you don’t like hot rice, you can order boiled rice instead. All of these are in high quality.

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