Any visitor Chiangrai cannot fail to recognize that the freshness and obvious affluence which abound in this northernmost state. Its proximity to the Golden Triangle has impacted the development of the property and merely here does one visit fenced-off properties, farm houses, hedgerows and smooth Fourlane highways never looking for repair. There was more to the state than this, of course, with some of the most challenging backroads in Thailand being here. However, the overriding impression is one of nearly a different nation. This diversity should, perhaps, function as alternate traveler’s primary reason for visiting the Golden Far North.
The riches of Chiangrai province can be immediately when compared with coming up with a trip in to Myanmar at the border crossing of Mae Sai. The poverty on the Myanmar side is all too obvious and a lot more obvious than at other Myanmar crossings. The cross-border ssru trip does not want a visa, nor is your passport stamped. Everything that you want are two photo copies of your passport details and also a commission, usually five dollars.
From Mae Sai border excursions could be made to the Royal Mountain project at Doi Toong and eastwards into the opium museum at the Golden Triangle itself. Chiang Saen is a small space outside thisparticular. Westwards is currently mae Salong and Thaton using its Maekok River Lodge and onwards to Fang and also mae Hong Son along some of their least used (you’ll learn why) roads in Thailand. There is spectacular scenery all along the way.
Doi Toong has turned into an entirely developed Royal project. Fundamentally an entire mountain range over looking Burmese land, it now affords people not just grand vistas but in addition homegrown Thai coffee and tea, tender veggies and temperate veggies. We’ve already been introduced to hill tribe farming designs and today contribute greatly to the markets of many villages as a replacement its declining opium harvest farming, which will be all but eliminated from Thai land now. Wat Doi Toong itself, perched as a nest over the last hilltop, can be an important pilgrimage center for Thai people and there is foul-smelling temple action here.
If time allows, and you also get a great map, the alternate course via Doi Pa Mi to Doi Toong should be taken from Mae Sai instead of the main highway directed towards Mae Chan. The trail hugs the border and is one of the most spectacular paths from the north.
The Golden Triangle is, by now, quite well-frequented by tourists and there’s little expectation of averting audiences at the middle point – a plaque depicting the meeting place of those three countries, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. However, pleasant enough river trips to the mighty Mekong can be obtained in addition to meals at river side restaurants (see for more tranquil locations between the triangle and Chiang Saen). The Imperial Golden Triangle Hotel allows probably the best views, notably around breakfast time, with lots of early moves on the river. Long tailed boats flit from country to country super fast, contributing to the sense of intrigue which lingers at the notorious meeting location.
Very pleasant afternoons can be spent on terraced riverside after an industry trip.
Further down river from Chiang Saen is the up-and-coming border point of Chiang Khong. Out of here, entrance to Laos could be created using evening river trips to Luang Prabang leaving every morning. Travelling to Chiang Khong gives one a real feeling of being in the back waters of the nation and when that is what it is you want then spend the trip and use it as an entry to Laos. Accommodation, particularly with airconditioning, is lean in Chiang Khong as well as boats leaving early, book in advance or leave Chiangrai in 5:30 am.
Travelling westwards from Tachilek (currently it self a exit point for several internal Myanmar tours) over the Thai side and beyond Doi Toong, there would be the trunk roads to Mae Salong. This region is like the Scottish Highlands, even though without the elements and also a little warmer. There are only a few sign posts so take a fantastic map when in Mae Sai or you may find yourself in a”delicate boundary zone.”
When it’s daytime, a negative trip to Ban Thoet Thai, formerly Ban Hin Taek, could be made. This really is the former outpost home of Khun Sa, head of the Shan State Army. Since his escape, integration right into Thai society of the local Mae Salong valley people has improved. Together with local corn whisky on sale for a substitute for the eradicated opium crop, other services and products utilized include Chinese herb remedies, including Khanom Jiin steak and Chinese teas. There is really a tea factory in the town. Although a paved road now runs to Basang over the main Mae Cahn-Thaton street, other roads are a bit more than poorly rated dirt paths. This really could be the amount of anonymity.
For the authentic alternative traveller a four-day trek to Chiangrai is potential after hilltribe village trails en route. Here you’ll discover the hiking that existed 20 decades ago from a Chiangrai base. The village is composed of Thai style bungalows on the river side with a children’s pool and restaurant, but more importantly, it has a field study center for both Thai and overseas students and also a Thai cookery centre. The knowledge of Shane, his family and staff create the Village an exceptional base camp for trips around the area. Mountain biking and hiking trips are easily made out of the focal point as well as river trips to the Maekok, also a tributary of the Mekong.
From Thaton there is really a public vessel service plying the Maekok River for its 9-2 km visit to Chiangrai. It’s really a highly recommended trip and costs as little as 150 baht.
Onwards into the Chiangrai provincial border are many hot springs and arenas with the well-known ones being at Fang and Ching Dao. The predominant lime stone rock of this region gives way to many underground caverns all ubiquitously decorated with religious icons.
Although not within the Chiangrai region, the trip along the edge to Pai Mae Rariang through Mae Hong Son is well worth considering. The road is narrow and scenic but it has a few of the most intriguing areas in Thailand including the blind fish caves outside Mae Hong Son and the Padaung”long neck” village on the Pai River. The latter has become significantly touristy but also the long-necked Karen still hold a certain fascination irrespective of what the circumstances.
Lesser-known and less obvious to the naked eye will be the Lawa people with the field. At a place of about 500 square kilometers between Hot, Mae Sariang and Mae Hong Sonthey still live a largely conventional life but even here the majority have adopted Buddhism and Thai style. It is definite that they have occupied Thailand for a 800 years and they believe they sailed from Cambodia, however, some archaeologists think their origins lie in Micronesia, perhaps 2000 decades ago.
The women are most distinguishable with their hair tied into a turban and it’s usual for them to smoke tobacco from a wooden pipe. Most Lawa speak Thai, however the Lawa language, linked to that of this Wa tribe of Burma, is still spoken in many of the villages.
Absolutely, Northern Thailand and notably Chiangrai state is distinct in several ways by the rest of the nation. Traditionally called”Lan-na,” it’s for most of its history been a separate realm and holds that quality to the day.