Chiang Rai Province
|• Governor||Sumet Saengnimnuan|
|• Total||11,678 km2 (4,509 sq mi)|
|• Density||100/km2 (270/sq mi)|
|Human Development Index|
|• HDI (2009)||0.752 (high) (rank?)|
|Accession into Kingdom of Thailand||1910|
|Accession into Kingdom of Thailand||1932|
Chiang Rai (Thai: เชียงราย; Northern Thai: ᨩ᩠ᨿᨦᩁᩣ᩠ᨿ, Northern Thai pronunciation: [tɕiaŋ.haaj]; Burmese: )) is the northernmost province of Thailand. It is bordered by Shan State of Myanmar to the north, Bokeo Province of Laos to the east, Phayao to the south, Lampang to the southwest and Chiang Mai to the west.
- 1 Geography
- 2 Climate
- 3 History
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Symbols
- 6 Administrative divisions
- 7 Transportation
- 8 Tourism
- 9 Attractions
- 10 Leisure Activities
- 11 Adventure
- 12 Local Products
- 13 Nightlife
- 14 Local Culture
- 15 Ethnic Groups
- 16 Events & Festivals
- 17 Art
- 18 Local Food Specialties
- 19 Emerging Coffee Growing Region
- 20 Medical Health Care
- 21 Retirement
- 22 References
- 23 External links
The average elevation of the province is 580 m. The north of the province belongs to the so-called Golden Triangle, at which the borders of Thailand, Laos and Burma converge - an area which prior to the rise of agricultural production of coffee, pineapple, coconuts and banana plantations, was unsafe because of the drug smuggling across the borders. The Mekong river forms the boundary with Laos, the Mae Sai and Ruak River to Burma. Through the town of Chiang Rai itself, flows the 'Mae Kok' Kok River and south of it the Lao River, a tributary of the Kok.
While the eastern part of the province is characterized by relatively flat river plains, the northern and western part consist of the hilly terrain of the Hills of Northern Thailand with the Khun Tan Range and the Phi Pan Nam Range in the west and the Daen Lao Range in the north. While not the highest elevation of the province, the 1389 m high Doi Tung (Flag hill) is the most important hill. The Wat Phra That Doi Tung temple on top of the hill according to the chronicles dates back to the year 911. Nearby is the Doi Tung royal villa, former residence of the Late Princess mother (mother of the present king) Somdej Phra Srinagarindra. Thanks to her activities the hills were reforested, and the hill tribes changed from growing poppies to other crops including coffee, bananas,coconut and pineapple.
|Climate data for Chiang Rai (1981–2010)|
|Average high °C (°F)||28.6
|Average low °C (°F)||12.8
|Rainfall mm (inches)||7.5
|Avg. rainy days (≥ 1 mm)||2||1||3||10||17||19||22||24||18||12||6||3||137|
|Source: Thai Meteorological Department (Normal 1981-2010), (Avg. rainy days 1961-1990)|
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 became a province in 1910, after being part of the kingdom of Lannathai for centuries. After Lannathai was incorporated into Thailand, it stayed an autonomous region and thus the Chiang Rai area was administered from Chiang Mai.
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 majority of the population are generally ethnic Thai, but 12.5% of the population belong to the hill tribes, a minority in the North of Thailand. A minority are of Chinese descent, mainly descendants of the Kuomintang soldiers who settled in the region, notably Santikhiri.
The former provincial slogan said: "เหนือสุดในสยาม อร่ามดอยตุง ผดุงวัฒนธรรม รสล้ำข้าวสาร หอมหวานลิ้นจี่ สตรีโสภา ชาเลิศรส สัปปะรดนางแล"
Northernmost in Siam, beautiful Doi Tung, repository of culture, most delicious rice, sweet and fragrant litchi, beautiful women, the finest flavoured tea, pineapple from Nang-Lae (,source of the Giant Catfish).
While the current says "เหนือสุดในสยาม ชายแดนสามแผ่นดิน ถิ่นวัฒนธรรมล้านนา ล้ำค่าพระธาตุดอยตุง"
The northernmost of Siam, the frontier of three lands, the home to the culture of Lanna and Doi Tung Temple
Chiang Rai is subdivided into 18 districts (Amphoe).
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2013)|
Chiang Rai Mae Fah Luang International Airport has domestic flights to both Bangkok airports, which connect to regional and international flights.
There is daily boat service between Chiang Rai and Tha Ton.
- Rail and Rail Connections
There is no railway system in Chiang Rai, but bus service to Chiang Mai allows connection with scenic rail connection from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.
Chiang Rai province is intersected by Asian Highway 2, which runs over 13.000 km (over 8000 miles) from Denpasar in Indonesia to Kosravi in Iran, and by Asian Highway 3, which runs for over 7,000 km (4,300 mi) from Kentung in Myanmar to Ulan-Ude in Russia.
Decent bus services are available in the province but in more remote areas songthaews (public passenger pick-up vehicles) are the norm.
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 Myanmar and Laos.
Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park (Rai Mae Fah Luang) is located at Pa Ngiw Village, about 5 kilometers from the city center. It was founded by the late Princess Mother, who bought a 140 rai plot to set up a center for developing the youths from rural areas under the supervision of the Mae Fah Luang Foundation. The garden is a park cum museum preserving Lanna cultural objects.
Doi Tung (ดอยตุง) is a revered mountain which includes the Doi Tung Palace and the Mae Fa Luang Flower Garden. The Wat Phra That Doi Tung Holy Relic, an old religious site on top of the mountain, is about 2,000 metres above sea level.
Wat Rong Khun (วัดร่องขุ่น): This temple was designed and built by artist Chaloemchai Khositphiphat. A white ordination hall – Phra Ubosot - is decorated with silver glittering pieces of mirrors. There are large mural paintings of the Lord Buddha in different gestures.
The Golden Triangle (สามเหลี่ยมทองคำ), locally called "Sop Ruak", is where the Mekhong meets the Ruak River and also where the borders of three countries, Laos, Burma and Thailand, meet together. There are remains of many ancient places and structures attesting to the area having been settled by people in the past.
Doi Mae Salong (ดอยแม่สลอง) is home to a community settled by remnants of the 93rd Division of the Republic of China Army, who moved out of Yunnan province, China, in to Burma and after to Thai territory at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Today the town is a tourist attraction renowned for its tea and its small-town ambience on high hills.
Wat Phra Kaeo (วัดพระแก้ว) once housed Thailand's most revered Buddha image, the Emerald Buddha. It was discovered in 1444. The statue had been moved by various state rulers to be placed in their respective capitals as a symbol of dominance, including Lampang, Chiang Rai and Vientiane before finally enshrined in Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaeo during the reign of King Rama I of the Rattanakosin period.
Kok River (แม่น้ำกก) flows through the town of Chiang Rai and is 130 kilometres long. Long-tailed boats and cruises can be made from town to travel. Hilltribe villages in the area are popular with travelers.
Doi Nang Non (ดอยนางนอน), "sleeping woman mountain", is an unusual land feature located in Mae Chan district on the western side of the highway between Chiang Rai and Mae Sai. The silhouette of the mountain range takes the shape of a reclining woman when seen from certain angles. There is a viewpoint at Mae Chan, from where this land feature can be observed best.
The Hall of Opium, Golden Triangle Park (หอฝิ่นอุทยานสามเหลี่ยมทองคำ) exhibits the history of opium in the Golden Triangle, its origin, opium war when people lived on opium planting and smoking, as well as the recovery of the people who lived here.
Chiang Saen (เชียงแสน): an ancient town which once served as the main town before King Mengrai established Chiang Rai as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom in 1262. Traces of old double city walls and many other antiquities still remain in and outside the district town. The attractions include Chiang Saen National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติเชียงแสน), Wat Phra That Chedi Luang (วัดพระธาตุเจดีย์หลวง) and Wat Pa Sak (วัดป่าสัก).
Phu Chi Fa (ภูชี้ฟ้า): There is a trail which leads from a parking lot up to the viewing point on the top of this mountain, a distance of 1.8 kilometres. From the sheer cliff of Phu Chi Fa, views, especially the sea of clouds at sunrise, can be seen. The cool climate produces flowering shrubs of various species.
Golf Santiburi Chiang Rai is one of the best courses in the country and is only 15 minutes from the city. Waterford is an attractive course about 45 minutes north of Chiang Rai city. The Military course is on the way to the Mae Fah Luang Bridge, not far from the Dusit Hotel. The old airport has a 9 hole course.
Long Tail Boat Ride A long tail boat ride on the Kok River is a fun way to experience the scenery and see hill tribe villages. There are daily trips from Thaton, near the Burmese border to Chiang Rai. The main boat station is on the north side of the Mae Fah Luang Bridge, not far from the Rimkok Hotel.
Elephant Riding Elephant riding is possible at Baan Ruamit, about 30 minutes from Chiang Rai by car or 1 hour by long tail boat ride.
Trekking An extensive network of trails mainly used by hill tribe villagers covers the mountain areas of Mae Suai, Mae Salong, Doi Chaang and the banks along the Mae Kok River.
Rock Climbing Limestone karst hills are located mostly in the north and western parts of the province. Some have straight-up sides - potentially great for climbing, though often vine covered and, as yet, unexplored. The only designated rock climbing park in Chiang Rai is Boomerang Park, with cleared routes for top rope climbing for all skill levels. GPS: N19.55323 E99.47528
Mountain Biking Chiang Rai has incredible mountain biking because of the extensive network of paved roads with little traffic and dirt roads in the mountains. A nice day ride is to start in the city, go out to the elephant village and continue on past it until you find a small single track suspension bridge. Cross it and turn left, back towards Chiang Rai. On the way you will pass two hot springs and eventually end up back in the city.
Zip Lines and Asia's Largest Swing Called 'Pie in the Sky,' it has an arc of 45 meters, coming down from steep limestone cliff and soaring over trees and hillside 55 meters below. Located 3 km nw of downtown Chiang Rai town, at Boomerang Adventure Park
Lion Hill Park is a planned park, free to all. Also known as 'Buddha Cave Hill' it is located just 2 km west of Chiang Rai. The hill stretches along the Mae Kok river, and is 2.5 km (1.5 miles) in circumference. To some extent, paths have been cleared around the hill, but more needs to be done. The plan is to have at least two circumferential paths; one inside, alongside the limestone cliffs, for trekkers. The other, further out, would be broader and smoother, and suited for jogging or bicycle riding. The hill goes along the opposite bank of the river, from 'Pattaya Noi' a.k.a. 'Chiang Rai Beach.' The potential for many rock climbing routes at Lion Hill Park is awesome. There are several caves and caverns there also.
Chiang Rai is rich in handicraft items such as hand-woven cotton materials in bright colored festive garments, dresses and hilltribe silver ornaments, as well as wood-carving products. Certain food items are quite popular such as Naem and Mu Yo (preserved and fermented pork sausages). Agricultural products include lychee (April–May), bananas, coconuts, coffee, pineapples, tea, and other products from the royal projects.
The city of Chiang Rai itself has a few live music pubs and discothèques. Aimed at foreign tourists, there is traditional music and performances in the Night Bazaar. There are also plenty of beer bars, some with hostesses, around town.
The north of Thailand's culture is Lanna in origin and the people are very proud of their northern roots. The region is home to distinctly different food, music, arts, way of life and even language. Chiang Rai is also a melting pot of hill tribes and their own unique cultures.
Khon Muang are the city folk who originally came from Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang and Phrae. Culturally, they design their houses having only one floor with wooden gable-decorations called Ka-Lae. They are known for their craftsmanship in wood carving, weaving, lacquerware and musical instruments.
Tai Yai (Shan) are a Tai ethnic group who primarily live in what is now Shan State in Burma, and also in Mae Hong Son Province in Thailand. They grow rice, farm, raise cattle and trade. Their craftsmanship lies in weaving, pottery, wood carving and bronzeware.
Akha have the largest population of any hill tribe in the region. Originating from Tibet and Southern China, they dwell on high grounds around 1,200 meters above sea-level. Within their villages they build a Spirit Gateway to protect them from evil spirits.
Lahu (Musor) are also from the Yunnanese area and live in high areas. They are known as hunters and planters.
Karen live in various areas of the region which have valleys and riverbanks.
Hmong from southern China are located on high land. They raise livestock and grow rice, corn, tobacco and cabbage. They are also known for their embroidery and silver.
Tai Lue (Dai) live in dwellings of usually only a single room wooden house built on high poles. They are skilled in weaving.
Lisu from southern China and Tibet are renowned for their colorful dress and also build their dwellings on high poles. They harvest rice and corn and their men are skilled in hunting.
Yao (Mien) reside along mountain sides and grow corn and other crops. They are skilled blacksmiths, silversmiths and embroiders.
Events & Festivals
Wai Sa Phaya Mengrai or Phokhun Mengrai Maharat Festival (งานไหว้สาพญาเม็งราย หรือ งานพ่อขุนเม็งรายมหาราช) is held from January 23 – February 1. The Buang Suang worshipping ceremony is to commemorate Phokhun Mengrai Maharat.
Dok Siao Ban or Blooming Siao Flower Festival at Phu Chi Fa (งานดอกเสี้ยวบานที่ภูชี้ฟ้า) is held during 13–15 February. There are sports competitions and cultural performances from hilltribes at Ban Rom Fa Thai in Amphoe Thoeng.
Songkran Festival and Boat Races of Mueang Chiang Saen (งานประเพณีสงกรานต์และแข่งเรือเมืองเชียงแสน) is held during 13–18 April of each year. In this festival, there is a parade, water bathing ceremony of the Phrachao Lanthong Buddha image, boat races and folk performances.
Lichi Fair (งานเทศกาลลิ้นจี่และของดีเมืองเชียงราย) is held around the middle of May every year. There is a float competition, Lichi beauty contest and booths of many products at the provincial stadium of Chiang Rai.
Buatong Ban or Blooming Mexican Sunflower Festival (งานเทศกาลดอกบัวตองบาน) is held in November, affording people the opportunity to see the sunflower fields, waterfalls and mist at Ban Hua Mae Kham, Amphoe Mae Fa Luang. There are also hilltribe performances.
Chiang Rai Flower Festival (งานเทศกาลเชียงรายดอกไม้บาน) is held during the end of December to January every year. There are flower processions, flower gardens, Miss Thinn Thai Ngarm Contest and also the fair of agricultural products and the variety of flowers.
Chiang Saen, Mae Chan, and Doi Mae Salong are three substantially different places. Chiang Saen's 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.
- The area is known for its traditional Lanna music with instruments such as the sau (fiddle) and kaen (panpipe).
- The north of Thailand has its own distinctive art and crafts including bronze casting, carving, mulberry paper, Buddha Images and sign painting.
- Local handmade items popular with tourists are clay charcoal stoves, tea sets, brooms and dust-pans, and umbrellas for shade and decoration.
- Some of the craftswork is made for spiritual purposes.
Local Food Specialties
The staple diet of local people consists of sticky rice (glutinous rice) which is rolled into balls and served in small hand-made bamboo containers. The rice is served steamed and some add sweeteners for a dessert rice. Typical main dishes in the area are dishes of curried chicken or shrimp and particularly kaeng khanun (spicy jackfruit curry), kaeng yuak (banana stalk curry), sai ua (grilled pork sausage) and Yunnanese and Burmese rice noodles. Khao soi is a noodle dish with chicken stock and chicken that is also popular. Nam ngiao is a traditional noodle dish with chicken or pork.
Emerging Coffee Growing Region
Chiang Rai province is emerging as internationally famous for being coffee-growing region for rich and mellow arabica coffee. Coffee is grown in several areas particularly Doi Tung and Mae Salong and other areas in Chiang Rai province
Medical Health Care
The popular Chiang Rai hospitals are:
- Chiang Rai Regional Hospital
- Kasemrad Sriburin General Hospital
- Overbrooke Hospital
- Mengrai Hospital
Many foreign retirees make Chiang Rai their home due to the low cost of living and the agreeable climate.
- Detailed guide by Joel John Barlow
- Website of province (Thai)
- Province page from the Tourist Authority of Thailand
- Volunteer to help the Hill Tribe villagers of Chiang Rai
- The Switzerland of Thailand - Doi Tung
- English News Chiang Rai Province
||Shan State, Myanmar||Bokeo Province, Laos|
|Chiang Mai Province||Lampang Province||Phayao Province|