Chiangrai and the Mae Khong River
One of the most outstanding features of Chiangrai is its border with Laos, the Mae Khong River. This river is one of the longest and mightiest in the world. It begins in the mountains of Tibet and rolls down through China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before it empties into the China Sea at its mouth in Southern Vietnam. The stretch along the edge of northeastern Chiangrai is one of the widest points in the river and from the Chiangrai side one can look across at the People's Democratic Republic of Laos. At the far north in Chiangrai is the famous meeting of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos in the Golden Triangle . From this vista one can see the beautiful flowing Mae Khong and all three countries at the same time. Boats plow up and down the Mae Khong River between Chiangrai and Laos, carrying trade goods back and forth between the Thai side and the Laos side.
The Mae Khong River has a culture all its own. As the river that feeds much needed water to the rice fields that are everywhere in Southeast Asia, it is a revered river that has been responsible for many tales about the people and the kind of life people have lived along the river in ages gone by. Many of Thailand's rivers of the north, including the Ping, the Wang, the Yom and the Naan Rivers, are in some way connected with the Mae Khong and together these five rivers are responsible for the tremendous fertility of the farming soil of Thailand. This, of course, is also true for the farming areas of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
At one time in history the borders of Siam extended northward and eastward and included the present countries of both Laos and Cambodia. This was a period in Thai history when the entire Mae Khong River in Southeast Asia was within Siamese territory. At another time, both Thailand and Laos, as well as the southern part of Vietnam were part of Great Khorm Empire that later became Cambodia. The Mae Khong River has had a history that has always been center stage in Southeast Asia history and development. The driving force behind the river's importance, of course, has always been the vast water resources it supplies to the plains areas of the region.
Not so very long ago the development of this region as a tourist destination did not seem at all feasible. However with the governments of these countries turning more toward a free market economy, the abundance of historical and cultural heritage combined with lush natural beauty entices visitors to explore this attractive region.
The first phase of a planned rail linking the neighboring countries of the Mae Khong is already under construction from Thailand to Laos. The 30-kilometer sector between Nong Khai and Vientiane, Laos should be completed in eight months. There have news reports that China has also started the rail project connecting Kunming to the Laotian border.
Mae Khong HighlightsMyanmar :
Copyright © 1995-2014 Welcome to Chiangmai and Chiangrai magazine All rights reserved.