Chiang Rai Province Travel Guide

The northernmost province in Thailand, Chiang Rai is renowned for its position within the infamous Golden Triangle, the mountainous area where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar converge. Best known for its hill tribe communities and its natural beauty, Chiang Rai was designated as a province in 1910 during the reign of King Rama IV.

An area once famous for its vast fields of opium poppies, the province is now a popular tourist destination for those seeking outdoor adventure and evidence of ancient settlements. Within its many districts and sub-districts are spectacular ruins and some of the oldest Buddhist shrines in the country.

Rafting has become a popular activity for visitors to the northern area. A relaxing journey along the 80-mile (130-km) long Mae Kok River, one of the most beautiful and pristine rivers in the country, allows travelers to see the jungle hill tribes, thick forests and mountain cliffs along its route. Popular excursions are available from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai and back.

Buddhists from all over the region, and as far as Laos and Burma (Myanmar), make a yearly pilgrimage of sorts to the highest mountain. At 2,000 meters, Phrathat Doi Tung is a sacred holy relic that sits enshrined at the mountain summit and is accessible by way of an impossibly meandering road that winds back and forth up the mountainside for 10 miles (17km). Almost as if to compensate for the slow and tortuous upward journey, the panoramic view is without equal, with Laos and Burma clearly visible on the horizon.