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'''Jet Yod Rd''' is lined with farang-friendly bars, restaurants, and guest houses.  
 
'''Jet Yod Rd''' is lined with farang-friendly bars, restaurants, and guest houses.  
  
* '''Cat Bar''' with jam sessions almost every day and a pool table on Yet Yod Rd.
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* '''Cat Bar''' with jam sessions almost every day and a pool table on Jet Yod Rd.
  
* '''Easy Bar''' on Jet Yot Rd. Open all day. You can have a meal here, read ''The Bangkok Post'', watch cable TV.
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* '''Easy Bar''' on Jet Yod Rd. Open all day. You can have a meal here, read ''The Bangkok Post'', watch cable TV.
  
* '''Joe's''' on Yet Yod Rd.
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* '''Joe's''' on Jet Yod Rd.
  
 
* '''Reggae Bar ''' situated somewhere in Night Bazaar's little alleys behind the silver-coloured stage. Good variety of music and drinks. Open after 20:00. Later local farangs meet here.
 
* '''Reggae Bar ''' situated somewhere in Night Bazaar's little alleys behind the silver-coloured stage. Good variety of music and drinks. Open after 20:00. Later local farangs meet here.

Revision as of 11:52, 29 November 2012

Wat Phra Kaeo

Chiang Rai (เชียงราย) is the capital of Chiang Rai Province, Northern Thailand.

Contents

Understand

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. Chiang Rai is essentially a service city for the surrounding province. It has a relatively small population of 200,000 people, but also has a respected university and other civic facilities.

The character is distinctly Northern and is distinct to Chiang Mai to the south in various ways. The food is definitely spicier and the ethnic composition includes a good percentage of hill tribes and Myanmar exiles such as various varieties of Karen tribespeople.

Get in

By plane

Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport [1] (CEI) is located on Phaholyotin Rd 8 km from the centre of Chiang Rai. Car rental is available on arrival from Avis [2].

At a desk in the airport you can hire a pre-paid taxi. It costs 200 baht to the city centre and more to other places (the prices are on display). It will take you 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 [3], Orient Thai [4] and Thai Airways [5] to Bangkok. There are now daily flights to/from Macau operated by Orient Thai Airlines.

By bus

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.

Both bus stations have plenty of tuk-tuks and songthaews outside, as well as a few metered taxis at Bus Terminal 2.

Old Bus Station (Bus Terminal 1) is located in the centre of town. Buses coming from Chiang Rai province stop here. From here you take the bus south to Phayao, and north to Mae Sai. There is enough English written on the signs and buses at the terminal to tell where the bus is going. You board the bus and pay the ticket collector (confirm with him/her first that the bus is actually going where you want to go. They stand outside the entrance door of the bus as well as help load large luggage to the top of the bus).

  • Chiang Khong, on the Laos border. Buses leave every hour or so and have the destination clearly marked. The journey takes two and a half hours and costs 70 baht.

New Bus Station (Bus Terminal 2), (7 km south of the city, just off the super highway). Buses from elsewhere in Thailand stop here

  • Chiang Mai - There are three types of bus: first-class with air-con, second-class with air-con, and VIP. Air-con (first and second), stops one time for 15 minutes. Takes just over 3 hours. Costs 186 baht (2nd-class a little less). 1st-class provides free water, nuts, and hand-towel. VIP - takes 3 hours, costs 360 baht. Operated by Greenbus departs Chiang Mai on a regular basis. Green bus stops at both terminals.
  • Bangkok Three types of bus, VIP (3 buses daily, 990 baht), 1st-class and 2nd-class from Mo Chit Bus Station. Takes approximately 11-12 hours.

NB: You may well pay more for the tuk-tuks at each end than the trip itself.

By train

Chiang Rai's Clock Tower

The nearest train station is at Chiang Mai.

By car

Chiang Rai is about 820 km north of Bangkok and is easily accessible from Bangkok via Hwy 1 and Hwy 32 and from Chiang Mai via Hwy 118.

For car, driver, and guide hire, try Thailand Hilltribe Holidays [6], who offer private itineraries that cover the main sights and off-the-beaten-path areas in Chiang Rai.

Get around

Chiang Rai map

Public transport consists mainly of tuk-tuks and songthaews, plus a smaller number of taxis. The city itself can be explored on foot, but for trips into the province consider renting a car or a motorbike. Budget and Avis both have offices in Chiang Rai and there are several local agencies. If you don't feel up to driving in what may be a very different environment, then consider hiring a car with driver. It doesn't cost much more.

Chiang Rai has a few cyclo-rickshaws (samlors), which can be a pleasant way to see the main sights if you want a fairly quick tour.

By motorbike

A motorbike is a good way to see these parts; there are several trails and a 250cc dirt bike is a great way to see the countryside.

  • ST Motorcycle is located in the centre of town. It has the most choices of machines.
  • Soon's delivers motorcycles to some guest houses and may also have a pick-up location, but some bikes may not be reliable.

Itinerary

For suggested Chiang Rai itineraries, see Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai in 3 days

See

Temples and churches

Guardian statue, Wat Klong Wiang
Ordination hall (wiharn) at Wat Ming Meuang
  • Bandaam Museum (AKA Black House or Black Temple), 414 Moo 13 Nanglae, Muang, Chiang Rai, 57100 (Located about 10 km north of the city. After driving 1.9 km past Chaing Rai University on Hwy 1, turn left into Soi 13 (the first left after the blue sign reading National Artist Mr. Thawan Duchanee; located at 19°59.69'N, 99°51.86'E), go 470 m & turn left into a small soi (the third left, and last before the road forks; there is a red/white painted tire on the side of the road), proceed 360 m and it is on the left on a right hand corner.), +66 53 705 834, +66 53 776 333, +66 81 673 1155 (), [7]. 09:00-17:00, closed from 12:00- 13:00. Free.
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 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 definitely not a place for animal lovers. There are also various kinds of baskets and drums from many regions and countries on display at Baandam. Not all exhibits are open to public. Open to everyone except tour groups, and admission is free. For more information or to arrange group visits, call +66 89 767 4444 or +66 53 705 834.
You can travel to the Black House by public transport. There is a public bus from the Chiang Rai bus station (18 baht, 30 min, platforms 5 & 6, but ask driver or counter). The bus will drop you off on the highway and you'll have to walk about 500 m down a side road to get there. To get back, walk back to the highway and flag down a public bus or songthaew. You shouldn't have to pay more than 20 baht.
  • Chiang Rai First Church, its largest, was built in 1914 at PratuSiri corner. It's Presbyterian.
  • Munniti Chiang Rai Across from Sammakkhi Wittayakhom School on Banpaprakan is this Taoist and Mahayana Buddhist temple, a rare sight in Theraveda Buddhist Thailand. There is a Shan house nearby. And on the road to Pattaya Noi is a temple dedicated to to the Chinese Goddess of Mercy featuring a large statue. In the Ban Kheck area is another Goddess of Mercy temple.
  • Wat Klong Wiang. Dating back to 1432, this is an excellent but little-visited temple showcasing exuberant Lanna-style at its best. Noteworthy are the colourful guardian statues, the elephants in the back and the "No Killing Area" admonition at the entrance.
  • Wat Ming Meuang, intersection of Banphaprakan and Trairat Rds. Small temple housing the spirit of the city (ming meuang) in an exquisitely carved and decorated Lanna-style, almost Laotian wiharn.
  • Wat Phra Kaeo This beautiful Buddhist temple on Trairat Rd 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 air conditioned museum, with a near-exact replica (1 mm 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.
replica Buddha at Wat Phra Kaeo
  • Wat Phra Sing (วัดพระสิงห์) 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. Tel: +66 53 745 038.
Gate to Wat Phra Singh
  • Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong (วัดพระธาตุดอยจอมทอง), located on Doi Chom Thong on the banks of the Kok River within the town area, contains what is believed to be the oldest holy relic even before King Mengrai built Chiang Rai. The chedi containing the holy relic was probably renovated at the same time the town was being built. A major religious site in Chiang Rai. It was from here that King Mengrai spotted the strategic location on which to establish the town. Tel: +66 53 716 055.
  • White Temple (วัดร่องขุ่น Wat Rong Khun), located at Ban Rong Khun, Tambon Pa O Don Chai, along Phahonyothin roadside at Km816, 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 halls for recitation surrounding the ordination hall, museum, and reception pavilion. The gallery exhibits paintings of Chaloemchai Khositphiphat. Work on the temple continues, and it is not expected to be completed for the next few decades. It opens daily at 08:00-18:00. Tel: +66 53 673 579 Fax: +66 53 673 539. It's easy to get to the temple by public transport: there is a public bus from the Chiang Rai bus station (20 baht, 30 min; platform 8, but ask driver or counter). To get back, flag down a public bus or songthaew from the police station on the left side of the road leading back to the main highway.
White Temple

Museums

  • The Chiang Rai Cultural Centre is just north of the new airport, to the other side of the highway, next door to Rajapat Teacher's College.
  • Cultural Hall Museum Near the TAT building on Singhaklai Rd is a large white building that has a huge statue of King Mongkut at the main entrance. Visitors can find prehistoric tools, two medieval cannons, costume examples, ancient pottery, and examples of ancient Lanna literature in the Dhamma script. There are also videos available, a model of the city and a display of five major areas of Tai culture. Admission for adults is 10 baht, for children 5 baht.
  • Haw Shan Art Gallery Out NongBua Rd, across from Family Bakery, in a large, dark-wood, Shan-style pavilion. It can be opened for special showings.
  • Hill Tribe Museum and Education Centre, 620/1 Tanalai Rd, Tel. +66 53 740 088, [8]. Situated in the centre of town, it is aimed at promoting a better understanding of hill tribes and their cultures. The dusty low-key displays include housing styles, tools, utensils and traditional hunting, fishing. and agricultural equipment, but it's worth a visit for an unsanitised view of how the hill tribes are exploited by some Thais and the tourist industry. The centre also runs their own hill tribe tours, where the money actually goes to employ and help the tribes people. Open 08:30 to 18:00. There is a branch of Bangkok's Cabbages and Condoms restaurant downstairs, whose profits go to support family planning and sex education projects in Thailand.
  • Lanna Museum, at Rong Rian Ban Sang Khong Yai, just southwest of Chiang Rai Hospital at an elementary school. It is opened by request.
  • Mae Fah Luang Art & Cultural Park, 5 km west of town, has lovely two lakes, a barge and several large Shan-style small ponds. There is interesting Haw Kam Golden Temple with two Shan halls containing accoutrements collected by Princess Maha Chakri and examples of Lanna craftsmanship: seven-armed candelabra, Buddha images, wooden alters, embroidered cloth for wrapping Buddhist scriptures, carved wood screens, swords, and monks' fans.
  • Oub Kham Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์อูปคำ), 81/1 Na Khai Rd, Tambon Rob Wiang near Den Ha Market, one kilometre from the centre of town. 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. Admission for adults is 200 baht and for children 100 baht. Tel: +66 53 713 349.
  • Princess Mother '90 Museum is a sizeable fascinating pavilion dedicated to the life of the beloved Princess Mother (mother of the present king, King Rama IX). On display are fine collections of lacquer boxes, wooden pulleys, pottery, weaving equipment and some old handwritten folded texts with drawings. Admission is free.
  • The Sirindhorn Chinese Language and Culture Centre (ศูนย์ภาษาวัฒนธรรมจีนสิรินธร)at Mae Fah Luang University was established through the cooperation of Mae Fa Luang University and the People’s Republic of China. The centre was built as a memorial to honour the Princess mother as a symbol of friendship between the two nations. The centre’s design adheres to Chinese principles. Construction took 7 months to complete at a cost of approximately 60 million baht. The architecture replicates the Suzhou Chinese structure, building decorations and the garden ornaments by complying with the design layouts and using authentic materials shipped from China. The roofing tiles, the doors and the marble tiles laid at the entrance are all examples of a few of the materials brought from China. Tel: +66 53 917 093, +66 53 917 097. [9]

Other

Chiang Rai Beach
Phucheefah
  • The Kok River (แม่น้ำกก) flows through the town of Chiang Rai and is 130 km long. Chiang Rai Beach lies on the banks of this river and is a popular picnic spot in summer. Long-tailed boats and cruise can be made from town to travel along both sides of lovely sceneries. Stops can be made at hill tribe villages of the Akha, Lisu, Lahu, and Karen, etc. Elephant rides are also available to see the surrounding area. For more information, contact C.R. Pier, Tel: +66 53 750 009. Another river route starts from Tha Ton in Chiang Mai going northward to Chiang Rai. The boat trip takes about four hours. Trips by bamboo raft takes 3 days and 2 nights, contact Tha Ton Boat Club. Tel: +66 53 459 427 or Thip Travel Tel: +66 53 459 312.
  • Gate of Siam - on the border with Laos - you stand high up on a mountain and Laos is in front of you across the mighty Mekong River.
  • Phucheefah - great sunset view.
  • Namtok Khun Kon Forest Park (วนอุทยานน้ำตกขุนกรณ์) can be reached by taking Hwy 1211 from town. After 18 km, turn right and proceed on for another 12 km. Or go along Hwy 1 (Chiang Rai-Phayao) for about 15 km where there is a right turn to proceed further another 17 km, then a 30-minute walk to the waterfall. The highest and most scenic waterfall in Chiang Rai, Khun Kon, is some 70 m in height. Along the route to the site are cool, shady natural surroundings suitable for relaxation and nature walks. 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.
  • The King Mengrai the Great Memorial (อนุสาวรีย์พ่อขุนเม็งรายมหาราช) is located in town on the intersection leading to Mae Chan. Originally, King Mengrai was the ruler of Nakhon Hiran Ngoen Yang (an ancient town on the bank of the Mae Khong around Chiang Saen) before Chiang Rai was established as the administrative centre in 1262. He consolidated his power by merging the different city in the north and founded the Lanna Thai Kingdom in 1296 with Chiang Mai as the capital.
  • The King Mengrai Stupa (กู่พระเจ้าเม็งราย) in front of Wat Ngam Mueang atop Doi Ngam Mueang in Muang district was built by King Chaisongkram to contain the remains of his father (King Mengrai).

Do

  • Organize a trekking tour to the hill tribes; various companies, such as Akha Hill house or Thailand Hilltribe Holidays [10] can organise this.
  • Rock Climbing just 3 km northwest of Chiang Rai. Beautiful limestone rock soars up 80 m. Two dozen routes, all skill levels, are cleared and fixed for top roping. Also at Boomerang Adventure Park; the only zip lines north of Chiang Mai, and Asia's largest swing, called 'Pie in the Sky'. It has an arc of 45 m.
  • Views of City Buffalo Horn Hill has a splendid overview of Chiang Rai. Take the old road to Chiang Mai, called Thanon Ratchayotha. After a few kilometres, a hill can be seen on the left. Take a left at Nongpoung Soi 3 and wind toward the hill with the temple on top. Other sweeping views can be gained from the top of Doi Kong Kao (Rice Box Hill) 4 km west of town. There's a steep walkway up its western side, well worth it. There is a 3 m standing gold-coloured Buddha statue at its summit. The summit of the 90 m vertical limestone cliff at Boomerang Park affords a view of the city and miles of the river valley, though it's a bouldering scramble up its west flank to get there.
  • Waterfalls and Hot Springs Kun Korn is a 70 m waterfall about 15 km south of town. Take a right at the wooden sign of the same name. Take the scenic windy road to its end. A smaller set of waterfalls is northwest of town at Mae Sai hill tribe village (not the border town of the same name). There's also a hill tribe museum at that village. Yet another pair of rather large waterfalls is west of town at an Akha village. Go west from town, along the south side of the river, for about 19 km, and look for signs which lead you left in to steep hills. Pong Phra Bat hot springs; Take highway 1 north out of Chiang Rai, to the first village (Bandu)/turn left just after the big market on the Hwy. Go for about 5 km. If you continue on that road to its end, you get to Pong Prabat waterfall, which is a year 'round steam winding through a very nice forest. Another hot springs is Pha Soet, near the river. It's located on a winding road going directly west out of town, which parallels the river - about 29 km. Huai Hin Fon hot springs and nearby waterfall are 7.5 km west of Mae Chan, on the south side of the road.
  • Golf There are two high class golf courses east of Chiang Rai. Santiburi is 10 km east of town and Waterford Valley is 35 km northeast of town. In town there are two 9-hole courses. The Army Course that you find close to Mae Fa Luang Bridge and The Old Airport course, which also has a driving range. You can also find a golf instructor there.
  • Volunteer. The International Humanity Foundation has an orphanage and education centre. Voluntourists [11] are encouraged to teach English, math, and computer classes, and play with and become friends with the children. Akha Hill House also requires volunteers to help teach the Akha hill tribe children English or to work on the website. See [12] for details.
  • Challenging and Educational Activities called Farm Ken it's a group of houses at a rural site with organic orchards. It has 62 avocado trees, and the only grapefruit trees in Thailand. Located at the small village of Hoy Plakang, just 2 km north of Chiang Rai. Some projects include; solar energy, playground devices for childrens' recreation, small alternative power projects, and innovative buildings are going up at a steady clip. Once in awhile we host a 'harmony workshop' which takes a group of folks and gets them singing harmonies, even if they claim they don't have any musical talent.
  • Lion Hill Cave Located 2 km west of town, directly across the Mae Kok River from Pattaya Noi. On its west end there's a Buddha Cave and a pleasant picnic/park area. Close to its east end, there's a 3-chambered cavern, and each chamber has a natural skylight at its apex. The largest chamber is big enough to house a middle-aged sequoia tree. Trekkers can hike through the hills from the river side (south) to the road side (north). Volunteers from nearby Boomerang Park have kept both approaches clear of weeds, and have cut a new path leading from the north opening to the road below. Lion Hill is also home to Thailand's largest red fig tree, halfway along the hill on the river side. Early summer is when you can see its massive branches covered in dark pink figs.
  • Wanna Farm is an interesting place about 5 km east of Chiang Rai on 1020 (go east at the big light on the highway south of town). The farm has ostriches which you can feed or for 100 baht, ride. It has a low-quality midway section with old carnival games to play. Offers camping and other random activities as well.
  • Central Plaza Movie Theatre Central Plaza has a movie theatre that shows English-language movies.
  • Bi-lingual Movie Nights, Open Mic Nights, Yoga, Monthly Art Exhibitions and Workshops at Prataap Jai in Sankhongnoi (home to the Sunday Happy St). This small three storey shop aims to be a place "where cultures align". It offers a number of affordable activities in both English and Thai. The website details current events. [13]

Festivals

  • Wai Sa Phaya Mengrai or Phokhun Mengrai Maharat Festival (งานไหว้สาพญาเม็งราย หรือ งานพ่อขุนเม็งรายมหาราช) is held 23 January–1 February. See the Buang Suang worshipping ceremony which commemorates Phokhun Mengrai Maharat. The fair is organised by the Chiang Rai Provincial Office, Tel: +66 53 711 612
  • Lychee Fair (งานเทศกาลลิ้นจี่และของดีเมืองเชียงราย) is held around the middle of May every year. There is a float competition, lychee beauty contest and booths of many local products at the provincial stadium of Chiang Rai.

Buy

Aeon Bank ATMs are located at 393/34 Ngam Muang Rd in a nondescript shop-front, near the B2 Backpackers (look for a purple New Smile Dental Clinic sign). The bank doesn't levy a 150 baht withdrawal fee on foreign cards and the exchange rate is OK. Avoid the Ayutthaya/Krungsri (yellow) ATM. It charges 150 baht withdrawal fee and offers a horrible exchange rate.

  • Morning Market- In the morning there is a good market in Chiang Rai that sells bamboo sticks, fish, among a lot of good local foods meaning you get a real feel for the place.
  • Night Bazaar & Food Court - The bazaar is located between the bus station and Phaholyothin Rd in the centre of town. The market consists of many small stands lining the narrow street running between Phaholyothin Rd and the bus station. Everything on display from silk ready-made garments to tattoo etching, even pets. The hill tribes sell an amazing selection of old coins, high quality needlework, and very fine quilted bed spreads.
  • Saturday Walking Street - The Saturday Walking Street is located on Thanon Thanalal in the centre of town. The market is 4 blocks long with a attached food area with music near the Eastern End. The market is open between 18:00 until 22:00.
  • Sunday Walking Street - As of August 2011 there is now a second walking street along Sankhongnoi, southwest of the town centre. Though slightly smaller, the Sankhongnoi Happy Street features more performances and cultural activities than the Saturday Walking Street.
  • Central Plaza - Central Plaza is Chiang Rai's mall. Located south of the city centre on the super highway it is 4 stories tall and has cinema which shows English-language movies. It is located across the highway from Big C and is connected by a pedestrian bridge. Big C has a number of small shops surrounding as well and acts as a mini mall. Both Big C and Central Plaza have food courts.

Eat

Night Bazaar food court opening up at dusk

There is lots of good food to be found in Chiang Rai, but most tourists seem to end up eating at the Night Bazaar. There are two separate places to eat here: "Centrepoint", run by a single restaurant with a Western-Thai menu and comparatively high prices (dishes 100-200 baht), and then the "actual" night bazaar food court (dishes 30-100 baht). Both have free music and dance performances almost nightly. The one run by the Night Market Restaurant has comfortable wooden furniture while the food court uses rather ugly yellow metal tables and chairs. While there are over 50 food stalls to choose from, the fare on offer is mostly quite touristy, with food toned down for the farang palate. About half the stalls seem to be devoted to selling deep-fried stuff (fritters, French fries, tempura, etc) to accompany beer. There are also a few non-Thai stalls, offering Italian, Indian, German etc, plus the obligatory insect stall for creepy-crawly cravings.

  • Aye's Restaurant Great restaurant, serving both European and Thai quality food. From German schnitzels and English breakfast to traditional Thai food. Located near the bus terminal, opposite the Adidas shop. There's a nice atmosphere and a live music every night.
  • Chiang Rai Beach during the day or the early evening is an excellent spot. There are around 20 cafes and restaurants overlooking the 'Mae Kok River'. Bring your dictionary with you for there are no English menus to be found. A bit out of town. Go by tuk-tuk or motorbike.
  • Coconut Bar on the bar street close to Wangcome Hotel. Has good vegetarian options including a good vegetable stew and a chili-sin-carne.
  • Muang Thong Restaurant, delicious Chinese food, very popular with locals. At the edge of Jettyod Rd and Phaholyothin Rd. Try the garlic fish.
  • Nakhon Pathom (นครปฐม), Th Phahonyothin, near Banphaprakan Rd intersection. The famous khao moo deng (rice with red sautéed pork, or as shown on the menu: 'rice with BBQ pork', 30 baht) tastes best at this big Chinese restaurant. No English sign, but looks for the red sign board with large yellow font Thai letters. It's opposite the Lebanese shop. Big cold coffee machines attract the locals to having lunch there.
  • Phetburi, Th Banphaprakan. Local curry-and-rice restaurant, just pick your favourites from the display. Under 50 baht for a full meal. Ratburi, right next door, is very similar.
Khao soi at Po Sai
  • Po Sai, Thanon Jet Yot 1023/2 (opposite Wangcome Hotel). Famous for its khao sawy (Burmese style chicken curry with noodles, 25 baht) and other northern dishes like special Northern Thai sausage (25 baht) and nam phrik num (dip made of aubergine and peppers). No English sign or menu, but some English spoken. Open early but closes by 18:00.
  • Tong Tung Restaurant (no English sign) serves you Northern Thai food. Try this semi-outdoor place on the western side of the road about 1 km south of Banphaprakan Rd on 1/1 Thanon Sanambin (old Airport Rd). Their 'Kaeng Hung Lay' curry is recommended.

Mid-range

  • Coffee P2 is a nice coffee shop located on Thanalai Rd (Saturday Walking Street) near Ratanaket Rd. Their food is organic and they grow their own hydroponic lettuce. They also have delicious steaks and good pastries. You can also get a beer.
  • Da Vinci is another good place on the main road serving nice pizzas from a wood burning oven as well as pastas and salads. Their lasagne is recommended.
  • Doi Chang is a coffee shop that has hit the big time. It is located on the corner of Ratanaket and Phayonyothin (the big light near the night bazaar). Usually packed, the owner has been steadily increasing his prices but still the farang come. Their coffee is pretty famous in Thailand and they have a nice cross section of Western and middle eastern food.
  • Ingfa is located just west of the town centre on Ratchayotha. This new restaurant has a vast menu of Thai and Western food including pizzas. Their hamburger is probably the best in Chiang Rai.
  • The North In The North Hotel. Specializes in home-made Northern-style food. Here you can find Northern Thai sausage, Kaeng Hunglay (northern pork curry) and a variety of northern style dishes made by the mother of the owner. Their family recipes will give you a real taste of Northern cuisine. The North Hotel is situated next to Oasis, just in the middle of a small street between the Night Bazaar and fruit and flower market.
  • Oasis is a very specialized and delicious vegetarian restaurant. Behind the new main stage at the 'Night Bazaar' you'll notice a high building situated behind the small cafes which still belong to the market. It's at the corner of a street which leads to the fruit market. A "must" for vegetarians. Open until 20:00.
  • Rico's is located just west of the town centre on Uttarakit (across the street from Concotel). This is the place to be if you're an older farang who likes to play golf. There is a lively expat community of retirees. Plenty of Western food (including pizzas) and a nice drink selection keeps everyone coming back. Also Rico is very friendly and spends most of his time hanging out, he'll probably come say "hi" is he sees you.
  • Siam Corner on Jet Yot Rd. Very good Thai food, some Western dishes also.

Splurge

  • C&C Cabbages and Condoms (ซี แอนด์ ซี), 620/25 Thanalai Rd (Hilltribe Museum), Tel: +66 53 719 167, [14]. Classy (if somewhat toned-down) Thai food in chic settings, with condoms cropping up in all sorts of unexpected places. Profits go to support family planning and sex education in Thailand.

Drink

Jet Yod Rd is lined with farang-friendly bars, restaurants, and guest houses.

  • Cat Bar with jam sessions almost every day and a pool table on Jet Yod Rd.
  • Easy Bar on Jet Yod Rd. Open all day. You can have a meal here, read The Bangkok Post, watch cable TV.
  • Joe's on Jet Yod Rd.
  • Reggae Bar situated somewhere in Night Bazaar's little alleys behind the silver-coloured stage. Good variety of music and drinks. Open after 20:00. Later local farangs meet here.
  • Rusta Bar Rasta music on San Khok Chang Rd.
  • SiTSip Bar & Coffee House. Located on the ground floor, Wangcome Hotel. +66 53 711 800. The place is decorated in modern style. Serving drinks, foods and snacks, and lots of cocktails.
  • Teepee Bar. 542/4 Phaholyothin Rd. The place has great ambiance and a eclectic collection of artifacts, a friendly staff, and fairly low-priced drinks. Also is a great place for pictures with rock style wigs and guitars, and there is a good selection of music.
  • The Turntable Jazz Bar, the North Hotel is the only place you can find a wide range of jazz records from the 40 year-old collection of the hotel’s Norwegian co-owner. Several jazz-related books can also be found. The bar offers cheap beer and drinks and a friendly atmosphere. The bar is located between the Night Bazaar and Sirikorn (flower and fruit) Market. Tel: +66 53 719 873, Fax: +66 53 740 156. MAP [[15]]

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget less than 500 baht
Mid-range 500-1500 baht
Splurge over 1,500 baht

Budget

  • Akha Hill House, (Free pickup service leaves from Akha River House), +66 89 997 5505, [16]. Based 23 km west of Chiang Rai in the jungle-covered hills, a great retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. The rooms views of the jungle and sun rising over the misty mountains, and the nearby waterfall and hot springs are well worth a visit. The staff are friendly and eager to learn or practice their English. Open-air restaurant, electric hot water, free Wi-Fi, pick-up and drop-off. (19.9434095621109,99.67284500598907)
  • Akha River House, 423/25 Moo 21 Kholoy, +66 89 997 5505 (). checkout: 12:00. Quiet guest house. Free Wi-Fi, laundry. 250 baht double (communal bathroom) 350 baht double (private bathroom). (19.916140433333336,99.83226896666667)
  • Baan Norn Plearn Guesthouse, 382 Banpaprakan Rd (close to Bus Station 1 and Wat Phra Kaew), +66 87 304 8911 (). checkin: flexible; checkout: 12:00. Fourteen uniquely decorated rooms with modern amenities. Comfortable, clean, quiet, and secure. Enjoy complimentary breakfast, 24-hour kitchen use with coffee and tea provided, free Wi-Fi and use of well-maintained bicycles for guest convenience. Spacious café, garden, family room, and reading nook. Laundry service, cheerful and objective touring advice, and motorbike rental available. English spoken and environmentally friendly. Please review pictures via Facebook page. 450+ baht.
  • Chat House [17] 80-400 baht. Good attached restaurant and friendly staff. Free Wi-Fi. Near Wat Phra Kaeo. Laundry for 40 baht/kg.
  • Easy House, 869/163-4 Premaviphat Rd, +66 53 60 0 963. Simple fan rooms with shared bathrooms. Bathrooms and rooms are clean though the mattresses are rather worn. Nice bar/restaurant downstairs. No laundry but laundromats nearby. 170 baht.
  • Jitaree Guest House Twin/double with private bathroom 200 baht. Located next to Mae Hong Son Guest House.
  • Mae Hong Son Guest House in Chiang Rai, 126 Singhaklai Rd, tel. +66 05 371 5367, +66 86 586 4764. Located ~1 km (~15 min walk from bus station) north of downtown. Pass the police station it's the second alley on the right, before the new bridge (not on the LP map). Rooms are basic, but clean and staff are very friendly. Doubles from 150 baht (fan and shared bathroom) to 250 baht (private bathroom). Free Wi-Fi. Good restaurant & bar, bicycle/motorbike rental, laundry service (40 baht/kg) and tour service.
  • Orchids Guesthouse 1012/3 Jed Yod Rd(off Jet Yot Rd). 15 new very clean, spotless double rooms with air-con, TV, free Wi-Fi, coffee/tea included at 350 or 450 baht in high season. Central location, quiet rooms, they also offer car, bicycles or motorcycle hire and trekking options with a licenced guide. +66 53 718 361.
  • Ruangnakorn Hotel (near the police station) costs 450 baht.
  • Sport Inn Hotel 557 Prachasanti Rd, tel: +66 53 756 959, fax: +66 53 756 156. Very nice hotel, free Wi-Fi, 5 minutes from the centre of town, Air-con double rooms 350 baht.

Mid-range

  • Akha River House 423/25 Moo 21 Kohloy, (Mobile +66 89 997 5505 Tel +66 53 715 084), 20 rooms: 250-1,200 baht. Newly built mud style house with bamboo furniture. Free Wi-Fi and lots of space to relax outside. Situated on the bank of the Mea Kok River. It has a nice restaurant and their staff are very friendly. Organise a great jungle trek. [19]
  • Baan Bua Homestay 1047/2 Jed Yod Rd, Tel. +66 53 717 952, +66 84 950 6304, baanbuahomestay@gmail.com ,[20] Recently renovated. 500-700 baht.
  • Ban Khun Yom (บ้านขุนยม) 155 Thanalai Rd. Tel: +66 53 716 216. 42 rooms. 600-800 baht.
  • Baan Lanna Hotel 395 Moo 2, Rimkok, Muang tel. +66 53 712 555. manager@baanlaana.com. Clean air-con rooms, mini-bar and friendly staff. 450-800 baht.
  • Ban Silp (บ้านศิลป์) 260/44 Mu 15 Sankongnoi Rd, Tambon Robwiang (Tel: +66 53 756 335-6). 27 rooms. 300-600 baht.
  • Ban Suan Nanglae Resort (บ้านสวนนางแล รีสอร์ท) 298 Mu 5 Phahonyothin Rd, Km851 (Tel: +66 53 772 490-1). 60 rooms. 600-800 baht.
  • Baan Warabordee Very beautiful, clean, air-con, well-decorated rooms in a quiet street near the centre, in the street behind the Wiang Inn. Prices for a double: 600 baht. English is spoken reasonably well. It is a 300 m walk to a main road, and close to the bus station and night market. You can drop laundry some 300 m up the road, give them your hotel number,and they will return it by evening if you put it in before 09:00 (they do not speak English). Another 50 m at the main road intersection is a restaurant where you can get a good Thai breakfast for under 100 baht, and a cheap dinner with beer also. Some English spoken; 59/1 Sanpanard Rd, Moo 18. Tel. +66 53 754 488. Fax. +66 53 719 293.
  • City Home 20 rooms, fan/air, cable TV. Fan rooms starting from 300 baht and air-con rooms 500 baht, dorm 140 baht. Good location near night market and bus station. Clean rooms, good value for money. Jan. 2011 rooms were quoted at 600 baht. Address 868 Phahonyothin Rd. Tel: +66 53 600 155. email Cityhome.chiangrai@yahoo.com, [21].
  • Lek House 4 backpacker rooms (350 baht), 8 superior rooms; TV, DVD, minibar, hot & cold shower(550 baht), 1 jacuzzi room (1,300 baht). All rooms include breakfast. Friendly staff, swimming pool, genuine Thai kitchen at low budget prices, bar, free Wi-Fi. 95 Rachayotha Rd. Tel.: +66 53 711 550 and +66 86 283 1868, E-mail: lekhousehotel@live.co.uk

Splurge

  • Luck Swan Resort and Spa [22] - 499 Moo 4, Rimkok. New hotel with Thai and Western food. Air-con rooms. Hotel has a nice garden and gazebo. 1,200 to 1,800 baht. Free internet access in the lobby. Tel. +66 53 750 855 Fax: +66 53 750 857.
  • La Luna, (a short drive from the Chiang Rai morning market), [23]. Big satellite TV in the rooms plus nice swimming pool. The gardens are the best feature: lots of tropical plants well-maintained in a labyrinth of guest villas. The rooms however are ascetic and poorly featured, e.g., plastic dishes and almost no guest conveniences. The restaurant is comparatively expensive. Basic meals are 250 to 350 baht, but require add-ons like plain water 50 baht or a small bowl of rice 50 baht. Breakfast is fairly low-end with rubber scrambled eggs and a small variety of dishes. There is no chef available. Overall, the place is nice to look at but clearly it rates income over guest comfort.
  • Phu Chaisai Resort [24], 388 Moo 4, Ban Mae Salong Nai, Mae Chan. 3,000-20,000 baht.
  • Wangcome Hotel, 69/90 Pemawibhata Rd, +66 53 711 800, [25]. Chiang Rai's grand old 1970s hotel, now getting on in the years, but rooms have been renovated and are looking reasonably up-to-date. Across the street from the Night Market and the bus station but not really an ideal family hotel as is surrounded by massage parlours offering more than massage, and by pick-up bars. Glum shady pool, mediocre breakfast buffet. Airport transfer 100 baht. 1,400 baht.

Contact

Get out

  • Check out the royal villas and mountaintop temple views at Doi Tung, you can hire a car with driver for about 1600 baht for the day, plus fuel, and you go where you want to go.


Routes through Chiang Rai
Mae Sai  N noframe S  PhayaoBangkok




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