Difference between revisions of "Chiang Rai Province"
Revision as of 06:14, 9 October 2011
Chiang Rai Province is a region in Northern Thailand.
Populations have dwelled in Chiang Rai since the 7th century and it became the center of the Lanna Thai Kingdom during the 13th century. The region, rich in natural resources and textiles, was occupied by the Burmese until 1786. Chiang Rai province’s Golden Triangle bordering Laos and Burma was once the hub of opium production which had much influence on cultural practices and lifestyles. Until this day, entire clans live together in bamboo houses and each village has its own individual character.
The province is rich in tourism resources in terms of natural attractions and antiquities, evidence of its past civilisation. It is also home to various hilltribes who follow fascinating ways of life. Chiang Rai is also a tourism gateway into Burma and Laos.
Chiang Rai is Thailand’s most northernmost province and a beauty it really is. It is situated on the Kok River basin well above sea level with an area of some 11,678 square kilometres. It is about 785km from Bangkok. Mostly mountainous, it reaches the Mae Khong River to the north and borders on both Myanmar and Laos.
Popualtions have dwelled in Chiang Rai since the 7th century and it became the center of the Lanna Thai Kingdom during the 13th century. The region, rich in natural resources and textiles, was occupied by the Burmese until 1786. Chiang Rai province’s Golden Triangle bordering Laos and Burma was once the hub of opium production which had much influence on cultural practices and lifestyles. Until this day, entire clans live together in bamboo houses and each village has its own individual character.
Chiang Saen, Mae Chan, and Doi Mae Salong are three substantially different places. Chiang Saen’s rich culture has been influenced by its collection of Buddhist scriptures and temples. It was once the provincial capital. Mae Chan’s name lies in its silver and tribal handicrafts. Once officially unrecognized by the Thai government, Doi Mae Salong is a Chinese KMT (Kuomintang) area renowned for its natural beauty and unique Yunnanese culture. Besides the Chinese 93rd Infantry of the Kuomintang, several other ethnic minorities have settled down in the region including the Tai Yai, Tai Lue, Tai Khoen and Tai Yuan.
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The nearest train station is in Chiang Mai.
The 12 hour journey from Bangkok can be made on air-conditioned coaches originating from Northern Bus Terminal daily call 0 2936 2852-66, 0 25 76 5599 www.transport.co.th . Private bus operated by Bor Kho Sor Co., Ltd. Call 0 2936 3670, 0 5371 1369, 0 5375 4097/ Chok Rung Tawee Tour call 0 2936 4275-6, 0 5371 4045/ Siam First Tour call 0 2954 3601-4, 0 5371 9064, 0 5371 4386 / Sombut Tour 0 2936 2495, 0 5371 4971, 0 5371 5884
There are services from Chiang Rai bus terminal to various districts in Chiang Rai. Local bus ply nearby provinces, call Chiang Rai bus terminal 0 5371 1224, 0 5371 1154 for details.
Highway No. 1 (Phaholyothin Road) is the main road in Chiang Rai province. It passes through the areas of Phan Mae Lao, Muang, Mae Chan and Mae Sai districts. Along the higway, there are links to other districts in the province, such as roads 108 to Mae Suai, 1126 to Pa Daed, 1233 to Wang Whai and the 1016 to Chaing Saen districts.
From Bangkok drive on highway No.32 to Singburi, then take highway No.11 to Phare and highway No.1103 to Chiang Rai. The route is 829km.
There is a decent enough bus service in the province but in more remote areas, songthaews (public passenger pick-up vehicles) are the norm.
There is also the chance to travel by boat along the Kok River.
Visitors to the province of Chiang Rai can expect to see some splendid mountain and valley views, while being blessed with excellent weather which is much cooler than in the central plains.
Many folk choose to spend some of their time in Chiang Rai visiting fascinating hill tribes such as the Akha, Lisaw, Hmong, Lahu, Karen, Mien and Yao etc Most visitors go with a certified guide but other simply go on their own (have to plan ahead though). It is all right to stay overnight with the villagers. Solo travelers not going with a guide are advised to stay with the village headmen; a small donation is welcome.
Sadly, some Thai "businessmen" impudently exploit hill tribe people to extract money from the tourists. A village just near the road between Mae Sai and Chiang Rai (it is frequented by tourist minibuses returning from Golden Triangle) is actually privately owned, and, while entrance to the village is free, visiting long-neck Karen people there costs 200 baht. Most tourists (and backpackers) have already paid this price in a tour package, thinking that 1000 baht or more for a day trip is "cheap". Needless to say, these poor Burmese (as was explained privately by guide) Karens working there for a tourists get only a tiny fraction of these money - as they home, Burma (Myanmar), is the one of the poorest countries of the world. Be conscious, this is just a tourist trap. It's better to visit a remote, but genuine Karen village, than to help the rich people to make money from the poorest ones.
When trekking off the beaten track and away from hill tribes, it is possible to sleep at any temple, but again a little donation is appreciated.