Chiang Saen District

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Chiang Saen
The Golden Triangle in Amphoe Chiang Saen
The Golden Triangle in Amphoe Chiang Saen
Amphoe location in Chiang Rai Province
Amphoe location in Chiang Rai Province
Coordinates: 20°16′30″N 100°5′18″E / 20.27500°N 100.08833°E / 20.27500; 100.08833Coordinates: 20°16′30″N 100°5′18″E / 20.27500°N 100.08833°E / 20.27500; 100.08833
Country  Thailand
Province Chiang Rai
Seat Wiang
 • Total 554.0 km2 (213.9 sq mi)
Population (2015)
 • Total 53,500
 • Density 99.2/km2 (257/sq mi)
Time zone THA (UTC+7)
Postal code 57150
Geocode 5708

Chiang Saen (Thai: เชียงแสน; IPA: [tɕʰīaŋ sɛ̌ːn]) is a district (amphoe) in the northern part of Chiang Rai Province, northern Thailand. In the past decades, Chiang Saen has become one of the important gates for Thailand's trades with other countries on the upper part of Mekong River.[1]


A ruined Chiang Saen in 1867 sketched by Louis Delaporte during the expedition up the Mekong by Francis Garnier
The chedi of Wat Pa Sak
Inside of the city's old walls

According to an ancient chronicle,[2] the original city of Chiang Saen (Chiang: Offshoot; Saen: 100,000) was built in 545 in an area called Yonok, by Tai migrants from the Chinese province of Yunnan, and was an important city (Southeast Asia Mandala-model mueang) of the Lanna (Million Paddies) Kingdom.[3] No reliable written history of the city exists until the arrival of King Mengrai in the 13th century. His grandson, Saen Phu, ruler of the Lanna Kingdom, founded Chiangsaen in 1325 or 1328.[4]:226

The city was sacked by Chao Kawila of Chiangmai during the reign of Rama I, because it had been the Burmese base of operations in the preceding years. The city was deserted, while its inhabitants resettled in other Bangkok-allied Lanna cities such as Lampang and Chiang Mai. Several ancient ruins are found in the old cities: for example, Wat Pa Sak hosts a well preserved Lanna-style 'Phrathat'.

The Mueang was converted into a district at the beginning of the 20th century in the thesaphiban reforms, with an additional branch or minor district (King Amphoe) also named Chiang Saen covering the central area. The minor district was abolished in 1925.[5] The minor district was recreated two years laters, then named Chiang Saen Luang (เชียงแสนหลวง).[6] In 1939 the minor district was renamed to Chiang Saen, while the former district Chiang Saen became Mae Chan.[7] The minor district was upgraded to a full district on April 6, 1957.[8]


The Mekong river flows at the northern end of the district, forming the boundary with Laos. Other important rivers are the Kok and the Ruak River, tributaries of the Mekong. The 1,328 m high Doi Luang Pae Mueang massif (ดอยหลวงแปเมือง) of the Phi Pan Nam Range rises at the eastern end of the district.

Neighbouring districts are (from the east clockwise) Chiang Khong, Doi Luang, Mae Chan, Mae Sai of Chiang Rai Province. To the north are Shan State of Myanmar and Bokeo provinces of Laos.

The area around the confluence of the Mekong with the Ruak River is known as the Golden Triangle. This boundary region with Laos and Myanmar is now a popular touristical area, with several casinos on the Burmese side.


The district is subdivided into 6 subdistricts (tambon), which are further subdivided into 72 villages (muban). Wiang Chiang Saen is a township (thesaban tambon) which covers parts of tambon Wiang. There are further 6 Tambon administrative organizations (TAO).

No. Name Thai name Villages Inh.
1. Wiang เวียง 10 10,807
2. Pa Sak ป่าสัก 13 8,337
3. Ban Saeo บ้านแซว 15 11,444
4. Si Don Mun ศรีดอนมูล 14 8,120
5. Mae Ngoen แม่เงิน 12 8,463
6. Yonok โยนก 8 4,777

Tourist Attractions[edit]

Golden Triangle - where the three countries meet.

Some of the most popular destinations for tourists include Golden Triangle (Samliam Thongkum or สามเหลี่ยมทองคำ - a direct translation of "Golden Triangle" ) where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet. Golden Triangle used to be famously known as a drug trafficking venue[9] until the royal Thai government decided to put a lot of its effort in cleaning up the area and eventually turned the area into a tourist destination that welcomes a lot of visitors each year. Visitors usually enjoy their stay in Golden Triangle by doing some sightseeing, taking a boat trip, and some usually spend their time at the casinos on the territory of Myanmar and Laos. On the other hand, Asian tourists usually take a short walk up the hill to pray at the local temple called Wat Prathat Phukao (วัดพระธาตุภูเข้า).

Wat Prathat Pha Ngao

Another famous destination that attracts a lot of Thai visitors is Wat Prathat Pha Ngao (วัดพระธาตุผาเงา).[10] Part of the temple was found to be at least 700 - 1,300 years old and over the centuries, the temple has been part of the local people's lives all along. The temple also has welcomed the royal family on many occasions over the last few decades.

The temples in Chiang Saen.

Many visitors also find time to visit the local National Museum where all the ancients items or preserved and exhibited. Visitors will get to learn more about the city since its establishment and about the people and their ways of living throughout the centuries. The museum opens from Wednesday to Sunday, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.[11]

Boat trip on Mekong River


  1. ^ ":: Chiang Saen Port ::". Retrieved 2016-02-09. 
  2. ^ Probably The Chiang Mai Chronicle, ISBN 974-7100-62-2
  3. ^ "Yonok, the birthplace of Lanna", Welcome to Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai, accessed 2009-10-17
  4. ^ Coedès, George (1968). Walter F. Vella, ed. The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. trans.Susan Brown Cowing. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-0368-1. 
  5. ^ แจ้งความกระทรวงมหาดไทย เรื่อง ยุบกิ่งเชียงแสนเข้ารวมกับอำเภอเชียงแสนจังหวัดเชียงราย (PDF). Royal Gazette (in Thai) 42 (0 ง): 2159. October 4, 1925. 
  6. ^ แจ้งความกระทรวงมหาดไทย เรื่อง ตั้งกิ่งอำเภอเชียงแสนหลวง (PDF). Royal Gazette (in Thai) 44 (0 ง): 1232. July 17, 1927. 
  7. ^ พระราชกฤษฎีกาเปลี่ยนนามอำเภอ กิ่งอำเภอ และตำบลบางแห่ง พุทธศักราช ๒๔๘๒ (PDF). Royal Gazette (in Thai) 56 (0 ก): 354–364. April 17, 1939. 
  8. ^ พระราชกฤษฎีกาตั้งอำเภอเชียงแสน พ.ศ. ๒๕๐๐ (PDF). Royal Gazette (in Thai) 74 (36 ก): 565–567. April 6, 1957. 
  9. ^ "Golden Triangle (Southeast Asia)". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
  10. ^ "วัดพระธาตุผาเงา". วิกิพีเดีย (in Thai). 
  11. ^ "Chiang Saen". Retrieved 2016-02-09. 

External links[edit]

The National Museum in Chaing Saen.