On our way back to Hua Hin from Vietnam, we decided to spend a few days in Chiang Rai – the most northern large city in Thailand. My Mom had never visited the north of Thailand before so it was a perfect time for us to go while she was over visiting.
We stayed in a mansion that’s been converted into a hotel. This place was fit for a King (and Queen)! The decor in the hotel just had me smiling from ear to ear everytime I walked in the entrance. Our room was furnished the same way, making us feel like royalty (it might seem cheesy but it was really cool).
We had the pleasure of being in Chiang Rai while the flower festival was on. It was so beautiful and we were in awe of what they could create with flowers!
After spending hours at the flower festival, we still had some free time to walk around the city a bit. The clock tower is gorgeous and the gold decorated lightposts that run each way from the clock tower on the main road just seem to transport you back to ancient lanna times.
There was always a market happening on the street and some of the snacks were delicious. Also in the north of Thailand much to my delight, they grow avocados – I brought 3 kilos of avocados back to Hua Hin with me!
A trip to Chiang Rai wouldn’t be complete without visiting the gorgeous Blue Temple – Wat Rong Suea Ten. Even though this temple is fairly new, it is gaining popularity as a ‘must see’ because when we arrived first thing in the morning it was already packed with 2 tour bus loads of people. The temple is definitely stunning though!
After visiting the Blue Temple, we continued on to the White Temple – Wat Rong Khun. This temple is one of the most famous recognizable temples in Thailand. It was really interesting and I was surprised to learn that it’s privately owned by an artist who continues to add to it and considers the temple to be an offering to Lord Buddha. It’s very popular which means it’s also very busy but definitely still enjoyable to see. Entry here is 50 baht each.
The outreaching hands symbolize unrestrained desire.
There are other stunning temples to visit in Chiang Rai and these were some of my favourites.
Wat Phra Singha, this temple was so beautiful!
Wat Ngam Muang
The carvings on the doors were incredible – I would love doors like this!
Wat Pra Kaew – Temple of the Emerald Buddha. In 1434 lightening struck the main pagoda revealing an emerald buddha. The emerald buddha is now located on the Grand Palace grounds in Bangkok. The current one at this temple is a replica.
These signs were at many of the Buddhist temples and I’m seeing more of them around Thailand. The same message is put forth in neighbouring countries like Cambodia and Laos.
We took one full day to drive to the Golden Triangle with stops along the way. We asked the hotel to hire a car and driver for us and I was sure the driver was literally driving Gordon crazy. Gordon was sitting in the front and my Mom and I rode in the back. The driver kept trying to take us to the opium museum (he must get a commission for that stop) and we kept refusing because we had stops already planned. He kept on and on pushing for us to stop and meanwhile jokingly kept slapping Gordon on the knee which was driving Gordon crazy. Finally on the last “we go see opium museum, yes?”, my Mom firmly blurted out from the back seat rather loudly “Mama says no”…that was the end of that discussion!
We stopped to visit the Akha hilltribe village, they originate from Tibet. They have a very elaborate and colourful traditional dress. In the past opium was their most lucrative crop but now they grow chilies, soybeans, and vegetables.
We made our way to Doi Mae Salong – the cherry blossoms were beautiful and tea plantations dotted the hillsides.
We finally arrived to the Golden Triangle. This is where the 3 countries of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos meet. You could also see Yunnan provice in China off in the distance. This area was called the Golden Triangle because gold was used as currency in the opium trade. In the past this area was the main opium producer.
We walked around the Golden Triangle area and they had a few other things to see aside from the borders.
Our final stop of the day was at Chiang Saen to see some of the ancient ruins that date back to 545 CE. The main site being Wat Pa Sak.
On our final evening we visited the night market, did a bit of shopping and watched some traditional dancing. We also popped in to the flower festival to see the lights but we all found we preferred it during the day. There was also a parade that we ended up watching which was nice but we were all feeling pretty tired at that point.
My favourite must eat dish in the north of Thailand is Khao Soi – try it, I’m pretty sure you’ll like it!
All in all it was a very fun trip in the north of Thailand 😊
Where we stayed: Nakaraj Princess Chiang Rai 👍
Written by: Tammy Hermann…Live~Love~Travel