Chiang Rai Airport Mini Guide
The Quieter Neighbour of Chang Mai
Chiang Rai is fast becoming a tourist destination alongside it's neighbour Chiang Mai
, but it mainly attracts people looking for a quieter time and who want to visit the outstanding natural features of the area. The attractions there range from the ruins of ancient settlements to magnificent mountain scenery.
Chiang Rai Airport, although called “international” only actually handles domestic flights at present, mainly to and from Bangkok
, although over half a million passengers still pass through every year. As is it is not functioning as an international departure point you will not find any duty free shops there, although there are adequate facilities with shops and cafes etc. to while away your time in the airport.
On a Budget or Treating Yourself?
Although there are no airport hotels as such, there are numerous places to stay in Chiang Rai from hostel type rooms at around €13 per night to over €200 per night for a luxury hotel, so this really is a place for everyone and a place where everyone blends together. The same goes for eating in Chiang Rai, you can either stick to the street stalls like the locals or, even if you're not staying there call in at one of the luxury hotels to sample their restaurant.
The Golden Triangle
This famous area which was until recently the centre of the opium trade is around an hour from Chiang Rai. Most of the world's opium came to Europe and the rest of the world from this region until the early 21st century, now the major producer is Afghanistan. The Golden Triangle is where Myanmar (formerly Burma), Laos and Thailand converge on the banks of the Mekong River and it is now home to several luxury hotels and resorts. There is also The Hall of Opium in Golden Triangle Park in Chiang Saen district, this tells you everything about the history and use of Opium from 5000 years ago to it's use as an illegal drug today.
Nam Tok Khun Kon Forest Park
This forest park is around 30km from Chiang Rai, and can easily be reached by hire car, it is then a 30 minute or so walk to the Khum Kon or Tat Mok waterfall. This 70m high waterfall is the highest and most beautiful in the province and as the area is also surrounded by dense woods it makes it an ideal spot for trekking which is not too far from the city.
Mae Kok River
This is one of the most scenic attractions in Chiang Rai, it runs from Trathon in northern Chiang Mai province, through Chang Rai city and on to meet the Maekhong River at Chiang Khong. Boats, rafts and treks leave daily from Baan Trathon, the pier is opposite the Dusit Island Resort - so easy to find, these trips venture into the surrounding mountains where the jungle dips into the river. Stops can be made at various places, it's entirely up to you – hill tribe villages, a hot spring, a Lahu riverside village, an elephant camp or even a temple in a cave known as the Buddha Cavern.
Chiang Rai is a popular destination in the north of the country. It’s popular with backpackers and has the air of a frontier town. It’s home to the site of the original Emerald Buddha, a key religious icon. The original has now been moved to Bangkok
whilst a replica remains there.
There you can also take a river boat on the Kok River to see how the area’s people rely on the river for their livelihood. Hire a car and visit the Gate of Siam, a hilltop border point from where you can look across to Laos.