Explore Chiang Rai Frontiers
Chiangrai and the areas to the North, East and West are a rich tapestry of culture, history and natural beauty. How much of the province you see and which areas you choose to focus on depends mainly on your time schedule and your preferred mode of transportation; and this, of course, will depend upon your preference for convenience, your safety considerations, and your sense of adventure. With a unique combination of city, country and mountain life, Chiangrai is a province filled with the fresh, wonderful options that travellers of all types find appealing. This broad area of the far north is diverse, but it's also sufficiently compactto make your travels pleasant and convenient.
In Chiangrai City there is no shortage of transportation. You can get around the city comfortably by using the Dtoog-Dtoog (Tuk-Tuk), Blue Minibus, Green Pickup (Seelor), or Trishaw (Samlor). Fares range from 10 Baht to 30 Baht depending on your destination and your negotiating skills. It might help to know that many of Chiangrai's drivers are actually farmers in the surrounding area who come to Chiangrai to supplement their agricultural incomes. Thus, when you board one of these transport vehicles, it will help if you refer to landmarks in the city. This will make communication easier and get you where you want to go with less fuss. Of course, talking and negotiating with these drivers is course, talking and negotiating with these drivers is part of the fun of Chiangrai, so use your own judgement.
For greater range and more freedom of movement, you might want to rent a car, van, motorbike or Jeep while you're in Chiangrai. Any of these will give you greater flexibility and allow you to explore the outskirts of the city as well as reach the various frontier destinations with ease and at your own pace.
Only 40 kms due north is much more for the adventurous traveller. In the northwest mountain range that borders Myanmar (Burma), a good road takes you to many of Chiangrai's old Chinese and Hilltribe villages, the most famous being Doi Mae Salong. Farther to the north is the border town of Mae Sai and a crossover to Myanmar, is accessible to visitors by simply obtaining a border pass.
The ancient Tai town of Chiang Saen and other Mae Khong River sites, such as the Golden Triangle and small trading town of Chiang Khong, are no more than 1 1/2 hours away and all three of these can be seen comfortably in one day with your own vehicle. In addition, there's the border town of Mae Sai to the north, and from here you can cross into Myanmar (Burma) if you wish; and between Chiangrai and Mae Sai, in the western part of Chiangrai Province, there's an entire mountain area to expiore along the border. These are all best seen with your own vehicle.
From Chiangrai City it's an easy drive to the encient Thai town of Chiang Saen. Situated on the Mae Khong River, this town was founded in the 9th century and today provides a fascinating look into one of the oldest Tai civilizations in the region. Just north of Chiang Saen is the famed Golden Triangle, and to the south is the old Thai port town of Chiang Khong. These Mae Khong River sites allow you to understand the North in an entirely new, different way.
Another option, for both Chiangrai City and the surrounding areas, is a booking with one of Chiangrai's tour companies. There can organize your trips for you and take you to the various sports, allowing you the freedom to take in everything around you. This type of transportation is especially recommended for the first-time visitor to Chiangrai who wants to see as much as possible with little effort.
However you choose to get around in Chiangrai City and beyond, by local transport, by car, motorbike or van, through a tour company, or even by bicycle, you'll find Thailand's northernmost province a travel package that offers more than you ever expected. Enjoy Chiangrai. It's perhaps the most colorful area of northern Thailand today, and you're sure to have lots of fun.
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