Chiang Rai, former capital of the Mangrai Dynasty
Chiang Rai, the northernmost province of Thailand
Chiang Rai is about 785 kilometers north of Bangkok. Situated on the Kok River basin, Chiang Rai covers an area of approximately 11,678 square meters with an average elevation of 580 meters above sea level. The province, which is located within the renowned Golden Triangle area where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand converge, is also known as the gateway to Myanmar, Laos and Southern China.
Chiangrai, which was founded in 1262 by King Meng Rai, was the first capital of the Lanna Thai Kingdom (Kingdom of a million rice fields), which was later conquered by Burma. Chiang Rai city became the capital of the Mangrai Dynasty. It was not until 1786 that Chiang Rai became a Thai territory and was proclaimed a province during the reign of King Rama VI in 1910.
Chiang Rai a paradise for travelers and nature lovers
Today, Chiang Rai is a travelers paradise endowed with abundant natural tourist attractions and antiquities; the province itself is evidence of past civilization. Attractions range from magnificent mountain scenery, ruins of ancient settlements, historic sites, Buddhist shrines and ethnic villages as the province is also home to several hill tribes who maintain fascinating lifestyles. For those interested in the natural side of Chiang Rai, jungle trekking is recommended along various trails.
Chiang Rai which tends to be a little more ‘laid back’ now competes with Chiang Mai as a tourist attraction and is fast becoming a popular escape for tourists wanting to get away from the troubles they left behind.
Getting Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI) is located on Phaholyotin Road 8 kilometres from downtown Chiang Rai. Car rental is available on arrival from Avis avisthailand.com.
The airport is served by Thai Air Asia 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 – A minibus service runs between the two. It costs 10 baht and takes 15 minutes.
Old Bus Station is located in the centre of town. Buses coming from Chiang Rai province stop here.
- 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 on local bus.
New Bus Station, (7km south of the city, opposite Big C and just off the super highway). Buses from else where in Thailand stop here
- Chiang Mai – There are three types of bus: First Class A/C, Second Class A/C and VIP. A/C (First and Second) – stops one time for 15 Minutes. Takes about 4 hours. Costs 169 baht. VIP – takes 3 hours, costs 360. Operated by Greenbus depart Chiang Mai’s on a regular basis.
The nearest train station is at Chiang Mai.
Chiang Rai is about 820km north of Bangkok and is easily accessible from Bangkok via highways # 1 / # 32 and from Chiang Mai on highway # 118.