From Chiang Rai Province

The northernmost province of Thailand, Chiang Rai is situated on the Kok River basin 416 metres above sea level. With an area of some 11,678 square Kilometres. It is about 785 Kilometres from Bangkok. Mostly mountainous, it reaches the Mae Khong River to the north and borders on both Myanmar and Laos.

The province is rich in tourism resources in terms of natural attractions and antiquities and evidence of its past civilisation. It is also home to several hilltribes who follow fascinating ways of life. Chiang Rai is also a tourism gateway into Myanmar and Laos

Chiang Rai is administratively divided into the following districts Muang, Phan, Thoeng, Mae Chan, Mae Sai, Wiang Pa Pao, Chiang Khong, Mae Suai, Chiang Saen, Pa Daet, Wiang Chai, Phata Mengrai, Wiang Kaen, Mae Fa Luang, Khun Tan, Mae Lao, Wiang Chiang Rung and Doi Luang.

Oub Kham Museum

Oub Kham Museum is located near Den Ha market, one kilometer from the town center. The collection includes objects from the areas once belonging to or affiliated with the Lanna kingdoms encompassing northern Thailand and some parts of northeast Myanmar, southwest China and Vietnam.

Apart from objects used in rituals the collection mainly consists of objects used at the royal courts including lacquer ware, silver jewelry and clothing. Most notable is a golden bowl, a masterpiece, used by royals. It is open daily from 9 am. to 6 pm. Admission fee is 100 bahts per person. For more information call 0-5371-3349.

The Kok River

flows through the town of Chiang Rai and is 130 kilometres long. Long-tailed boats can be rented from town to travel along the river on both sides of which are lovely sceneries. Stops can be made at hilltribe villages of the Akha or lko, Lisu, Karen, etc. Elephant rides are also available to see the surrounding area. Another river routed starts from Tha Ton in Chiang Rai going northward to Chiang Rai town. The trip takes about four hours. Trips by bamboo raft takes 3 days and 2 nights.

Nam Tok Khun Kon Forest Park

Nam Tok Khun Kon Forest Park can be reached by taking Highway No.1211 from Chiangrais town. After traveling 18 kilometers turn right and proceed for another 12 kilometers. Alternatively, you can drive along Highway No. 1 (Chiang Rai-Phayao) for about 15 kilometers, turn right and proceed for another 17 kilometers, then take a 30-minute walk to the waterfall. The 70-metre high Khun Kon or Tat Mok Waterfall is the highest and most beautiful in the province. Surrounded with dense woods, the area is also good for hiking.

Doi Hua Mae Kham

is the domicile of the hilltribe near the Thai Burmese border, about three hours by road along the Mea Chan – Ban Thoet Thai Ban Huai ln route which winds along the steep mountain edge. The inhabitants are predominantly of the Lisu tribe, with a smattering of the Akha, Hmong and Muser. Doi Hua Mae Kham is most scenic in November when the yellow Wild Sunflowers are in full bloom.

Chiang Saen

Chiang Saen was an ancient town located on the bank of Mae Khong River. The district can be reached by taking Highway no. 110 from Chiang Raifor some 30 kilometres. Then take a right turn into Highway no. 1016 and proceed on for another thirty kilometres. Originally called Wiang Hiran Nakhon Ngoen Yang, it served as the main town before King Mengrai established Chiang Rai as the capital in 1262. Traces of old double city walls and many other antiquities still remain both within and outside the district town.

History of Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai

It is recorded that an ancient community was founded in the north of Chiang Rai Province more than 2000 years ago. This ancient town was named Yonok Nak Phan. According to legend, King Singhanawat founded the town, and the Nagas (mythical serpents) helped dig the town’s moat. Later, Yonok Nak Phan faced its unfortunate destiny; it collapsed and turned into a swamp. According to the geological evidence, it is believed that the town’s destruction was caused by an earthquake which turned it into present-day Chiang Saen Lake.

The above story is just a historical tale. However, it is clear that Chiang Saen existed during in the reign of King Meng Rai of the Lanna Kingdom, because it known that he truly existed. In the ancient Tai language of Burma and Northern Thailand, the word ‘chiang’ means ‘a big town’, while the word ‘saen’ presumably comes from King Saen Phu, King Meng Rai’s nephew. After King Meng Rai passed away, King Saen Phu came back, renovated Chiang Saen, and was its third king. He also resided and worked there; therefore, Chiang Saen was a capital city from 1327 – 1341, spanning the reigns of King Saen Phu and his son, King Kham Fu. After that, Chiang Saen declined in importance from the capital city to simply a leading town. Nevertheless, Chiang Saen Town was well developed, and Buddhism was dearly cherished by its governors. Ruins of 75 temples have been found within the town walls, and 66 were situated outside. This large number of temples attests to the thriving civilization of Chiang Saen.

In 1557, Chiang Saen, Chiang Mai and several towns of the Lanna Kingdom were captured by Burma. Later, Ayutthaya won them back, and eventually they came under the control of Bangkok.

The many ancient ruins make Chiang Saen a peaceful tourist attraction, with lots to explore. The Town offers a charming and serene atmosphere on the banks of the Khong River, at the three-country border between Laos, Burma and Thailand. Chiang Saen has both scenic natural attractions and an impressive cultural heritage. In particular its impressive Buddha images showcase Lanka, Sukhothai and Ayutthaya art and techniques. Besides, the graceful stuccos and splendid craftwork found in the area are Thailand’s great heritage for its younger generations.

Travelling to Chiang Saen

By car: This riverside town facing the Mekong River is 30 kilometers from Mae Chan District via Highway No. 1016. Alternatively, it can be reached by taking Highway No. 110 from Chiang Rai (the city), then take a right turn into Highway No. 1016 and proceed for another thirty kilometers.

Rental car: It may probably be easier rent a car in Chiang Rai and then drive to Chiang Saen, but renting a motorbike may be a better bet as the roads one will probably explore in the area are easier to negotiate by two wheeled transport

Buses: There are numerous buses traveling from Chiang Rai to Chiang Saen for around 20 baht one way. The trip can take from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the traffic and the number of stops it makes en-route. If you travel from Chiang Mai, it is advisable to ask for the ‘new route’ (sai mai) as this only takes 4 to 5 hours and makes only a few stops en-route. The old route can take over 9 hours to complete with many stops along the way.

The Chiang Saen National Museum

is where knowledge can be sought concerning archaeology, settlements and history of the town. There are replicas of the community and scores of ancient relics including Lanna-style sculptures, Buddha statues and inscription stones from Phayao and Chiang Saen itself. In addition, there are exhibitions of indigenous art obects of the Thai Yai, Thai Lu and other hilltribes. These items include musical instruments, ornaments, opium-smoking accessories, etc. Open Wednesday-Sunday from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon.

Wat Phra That Chedi Luang

located in Chiang Saen old town, was built by King Saen Phu, the 3rd ruler of the Lanna Kingdom in early 13th Century. Ancient sites include the bell-shaped, Lanna-style principal Chedi which measures 88 metres high with a base 24 metres wide, the largest such structure in Chiang Saen. There are also remains of ancient Wihan and Chedi.

Wat Phra Chao Lan Thong

is located within the city wall, built by Prince Thong Ngua, a son of King Tilokkarat, the 12th ruler of Lanna, in 1489. A 1200-kilogram Buddha statue was cast. Named the Phra Chao Lan Thong, it has a lap width of 2 metres and is over three metres high. Another statue called Phra Chao Thong Thip was also cast which is made of brass and in the Sukhothai style.

Wat Pa Sak

about one kilometre to the west of Chiang Saen in Tambon Wiang, was built by King Saen Phu in 1295 and three hundred teak trees were planted, hence the name Pa Sak (Teak Woods). It was then the residence of the patriarch. The temple’s chedi is of the beautiful Chiang Saen architectural style and the exteriors are elaborately decorated 12.5 meters tall with a base of 8 metres wide.