The quieter neighbor of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai is a land of outstanding natural beauty, where visitors looking to avoid the hordes can visit remote hill tribes, spot exotic wildlife, and check out the golden triangle, the former center of the world’s opium trade.
Chiang Rai has been inhabited since the 7th century, but it was not until 1262 that King Meng Rai established it as the first capital of the Lanna Kingdom. The capital was later relocated to Chiang Mai and since that time Chiang Rai has lived in the shadow of its neighboring province, though for tourists this is a good thing.
Chiang Rai town features a decent selection of accommodation, including backpacker lodging near the Mae Kok River, standard Thai-Chinese style hotels scattered throughout town, and more upmarket hotels and resorts located along the riverside and in secluded compounds in the Chiang Rai countryside. As most attractions are accessible via daytrip, the majority of lodging is found in the town, though there are some home stays and other culturally friendly resorts located in and around hill tribe villages and other rural communities.
Attractions & Activitites
As one of the hottest tourist destinations in Thailand, Chiang Rai has innumerable attractions, ensuring that visitors with any interest will find something to keep them entertained on their Chiang Rai holiday. As a relatively remote and somewhat undeveloped region, Chiang Rai features activities drawn from its natural beauty, including boat rides, trekking, river rafting, elephant riding, cycling, and visiting hill tribe villages. There are also a number of golf courses in the vicinity, including one of the finest in Thailand, and both a zoo and an animal park that have some kids’ activities.
Food & Drink
As one of the hottest tourist destinations in Thailand, Chiang Rai features many excellent dining opportunities. While both Thai and international cuisine is available to visitors, it is the distinctive northern Thai cuisine that Chiang Rai is best known for. Of course all options are available in Chiang Rai town, but once in the countryside, visitors should experience the pleasure of eating authentic northern Thai cuisine, including dishes that have been influenced by Thailand’s neighbors, Burma, Laos, and even China; such dishes include khan khanoon (spicy jackfruit curry) served with sticky rice and sai ooa (spicy pork sausages). The epitome of northern Thai dining is a traditional khan toke dinner, which features a variety of dishes served on a small, round table. Visitors can easily try a khan toke dinner at several restaurants in the town.
(Original information sourced from Thailand Tourism Dept)