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.
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.
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.
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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