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The Chiangmai to Chiangrai road makes an excellent trip for anyone with a few days to spare. The scenic Highway 107 is a fully paved Route to our 'sister city' of Chiangrai to the northeast. The drive heads north of Chiangmai and passes through most of the province, after which it goes through the mountains to the Thai-Myanmar border before dropping into Chiangrai.

The drive to Chiangrai on Route 107 could be accomplished in a day, but this Highway is a good way to see the countryside in short hops. Just outside of Chiangmai on Highway 107 you'll pass Mae Rim, the site of some large orchid nurseries, several elephant camps and a snake farm. At the camps visitors can see how the elephants are trained to work in the early morning. If you want stay in this area overnight, you can stay in the Samoeng Resort in Samerng, a short hop southwest from Mae Rim on Highway 1096.

As you continue up Highway 107 you will pass through Mae Taeng, Chiang Dao, and Fang, Mae Ai and Thaton a few hours later. Just beyond Fang you'll enter Chiangrai province's mountainous border area with Myanmar. Before you get there, though, stop in the town of Chiang Dao, home of the famous Chiang Dao Caves and Hot Springs. The area is also rich in forest, farmlands and mountain foothills. There is another elephant camp here, so if you missed the one in Mae Rim you can catch up on your elephant riding here. Chiang Dao is approximately the halfway point between Chiangmai and Fang. Chiang Dao is a good two-hour drive from Chiangmai, and Fang is another two hours on.

In the northern Chiangmai province -- Fang, Mae Ai and Thaton -- there is a lot to see and do. Fang is a mostly trade and commercial town, and it will be your last chance to stock up at a supermarket before you get to Chiangrai. Shopping is good here, because the prices are lower than in Chiangrai, Chiangmai, and Mae Sai in the North.

[ Boating on the Mae Kok - 8K ] From Fang to Mae Ai and on to Thaton is a short trip. Mae Ai is a small, traditional Thai village, and Thaton is a small provincial town. Both are good stops for culture and Buddhist temples, and Thaton has some interesting recreational activities available.

Thaton has always been an important trading post along the Thai-Burma border. The town sits on both sides of the Mae Kok River which leads to Chiangrai. One side of the river was once owned by Burma, but has been owned by Thailand since the beginning of this century. For those who want to take a boat trip all the way to Chiangrai, there is a Thaton-Chiangrai boat service that also offers one and two-day treks along the river. The several places to stay in Thaton, they all have arrangements for the three-hour Thaton-Chiangrai river trips.

From Thaton, the next leg of your journey will take you along Highway 1234 northeast to Doi Mae Salong. This is a one-hour trip by car if the road is good. Highway 1234 has recently been resurfaced, so there should be no problem on this pleasant drive. Old maps may indicate the road as dirt, but since it has been completed you can be assured of an easy trip.

[ Mae Salong hillside - 15K ] Doi Mae Salong is on the top of a hill about half of the way between Thaton and Mae Chan in Chiangrai Province, not far from Chiangrai city. Most people pass through Mae Salong, but we recommend that you spend at least a few hours there, or even overnight if you have time. This is northern Thailand at its best, with a rich heritage of Chinese and Hilltribe culture. It is also a pristine mountain environment and a nice place to spend the night. There are three resorts to choose from and a couple of guest houses. There are plenty of activities to observe just by asking someone in the village.

From here you can either continue your meandering trip of the Chiangrai province or head on to the city itself. About the same distance North as it is to Chiangrai, you will find the Thai-Myanmar border town of Mae Sai. It is off-and-on possible to cross the border for a day trip, but check first if you plan on going into Myanmar. Just to the east is the famous 'Golden Triangle' area, where Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos come together at the place where the Mekhong and the Mae Sai river come flow into one another.

[ Golden Triangle - 6K ] Just south of the Golden Triangle is the ancient city of Chiang Saen, a strategically located town on the Laotian border. It has been used as a stepping stone by every power ever to occupy Thailand. The National Museum in Chiang Saen is as exiting as the town itself.

Heading south again on Route 1016, you can reach Chiangrai in about two hours, wrapping up our recommended Chiangrai province tour. Once in the city, it would be a good idea to spend a few days taking in the sights and sounds of this formerly-isolated place.

The western part of the old town in Chiangrai was the first capital of the Lanna kingdom in the 13th century. It was the capital again at various points during the reign of King Mengrai's successors. Chiangrai is a very small city, even compared to Chiangmai, so it is possible to walk everywhere. See our Chiangrai map for orientation in the city.


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