Chilling in Thailand’s Chiang Rai

August, 2014

In recent years, Chiang Rai has become an alternative to the hectic and touristy destination of Chiang Mai, but also as a great place to chill-out and rest for a while.

Mae Sot, Chiang Rai, ThailandTravel

Arriving in the later part of the afternoon after an 8-hour trip on the Green Bus from Mae Sot, caught a Songthaew from the bus station to our accommodation.

Sights

Essentially, Chiang Rai is a service city for the surrounding province, but is also renown for its hill tribes living in the mountainous terrain, and accessible by trekking.

The city also serves the Golden Triangle border region – Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos.

Hiring a bike for a couple of days to see Chiang Rai’s sights but only seeing bits, getting lost on a windy pot-holed almost shell-holed dirt track – luckily al this before the afternoon torrential deluge of rain, ending in a small bike accident.

Thailand: 3 months travel route
Three-month route in Thailand!

White Temple and the bike accident

Somehow missed this temple after avidly looking for it then in the pouring rain on the bike, saw the temple from a distance whilst whizzing by in traffic. The temple is about 14 kilometres south of the city and I hear it’s worthwhile visiting, next time.

Unfortunately, on this day a little accident on our scooter occurred.

In torrential rain on the way back to the resort and right in the middle of the city during peak-hour traffic-it’s always peak hour in Thailand-the inevitable happened.

The old hand slipped on the accelerator and bang, we accelerated in the back of a utility truck with a thud.

Both parties pulled over and understandably, the Indian guy is quite annoyed at the mere tiny dent in his car, although our bike shows a little more damage.

The front of our metal basket is pushed in and also the bike sustained some scratches. After some heated words, we apologise. This is all the guy wanted really, and we both continued on our merry way.

I believe that had we been locals, he probably would have taken it further with insurance. But, it’s probably much too hard to pursue for such a minor issue when foreigners are involved – whew!

With some muscle power, the basket is pushed back into shape and bike returned without any issues…very lucky this day.

Thailand: Khun Korn Waterfall near Chiang Rai
Entrance to the Khun Korn Waterfall

Khun Korn Waterfall

Riding up to the entrance gate, everything is closed for this waterfall. Mental note to self, many things are closed for the low (wet) season in Thailand.

Apparently, you can swim here and it’s quite pretty…another time perhaps.

Singha Park

Some rave about this Singha Beer-owned park as the best tourist attraction as it has animal feeding, a coffee shop, tea plantation, and free farm shuttle buses.

Rode past and stopped for a few minutes, but didn’t really fancy going in – think this is probably be more fun for a family with children.

Day trip to Mai Salong

If you feel like a day’s break or longer from Chiang Rai to somewhere a little quieter and cooler, then Mai Salong is great day trip. Make sure you have your transport sorted out before you leave Chiang Rai.

Mae Salong is a small town with a village feel, with an early history centering on the Golden Triangle’s opium trade – although these days the trade is in tea, mostly.

Accommodation

Chayadol Boutique Resort

On 699 Moo 24, Kornrat Village, initially booked for three nights and loved it so much that we stayed for six nights. We want to stay yet another three nights but the resort is fully booked, so, have to move.

The Chayadol provides a large clean modern room (king-size bed), toiletries, serviced daily, AC, balcony, water, fridge, and a good area to store big backpacks.

Great clean pool area and also a gym. A good breakfast is served with a selection of Thai and western food. Very friendly and helpful staff. This hotel has many local tourists stay as well as foreigners, so it books up very quickly, especially on weekends. Although a little out of the city centre (approximately a 45-minute walk), it is a lovely quiet area and away from the city’s noise.

The Chayadol can organise scooter hire for you at around USD$6 per day, which is pretty reasonable. Also offered, are many different types of tours around Chiang Rai and the surrounding area, but thought these were a little pricey for our budget.

Baan Norn Plearn Guest House

Stayed at this great guest house on 382 Banpaprakan Rd. T. Wiang A. Mueang for three nights and so glad we did as it has a lovely vibe.

Well located to town and many local eateries, this very homely guest house exudes a great ambiance and good service from all staff. Our deluxe room is serviced daily and includes toiletries and water (coffee/tea can be made throughout the day in the common area).

The breakfast is amazing and the best in Thailand so far – very good quality and delicious – you can even whip up your own eggs the way you like here. The wi-fi works in the room and in the common area.

Laundry

Although the Chayadol offers a laundry service, as with many hotels it’s much cheaper to do your own.

There are pay washing machines (20B or 30B) along the street next to the Chayadol. To get to the machines, turn right at the front entrance, then left onto the long road, and keep walking until you stumble upon pay machines.

Food

Tried several coffee shops but not too impressed and mostly overpriced for the quality. One thing I’ve noticed here is that the food is definitely spicier, if that’s at all possible in Thailand.

Although I don’t know the name of the restaurant, make sure you try this wonderful female-run local restaurant about a 10-minute walk from Chayadol – at the resort’s front entrance turn right, then right again, and walk up hill past big homes, it’s on your right. The Thai food is delicious and very cheap. Many locals eat here and you can also take-away meals.

The reason for all the directions is that many TripAdvisor reviewers comment that the Chayadol’s location as too far from anywhere and yes, it is far from western-style restaurants. Although, if you walk around the area, you will find everything you need in the resort’s vicinity, including many small local restaurants that serve delicious food at much cheaper prices.

Thailand: night dancing in Chiang Rai
Made me simle…

Pangkhon Coffee

Check out this coffee shop on Baanpa Pragarn Road for reasonably-priced coffee, but have had much better in Thailand and Chiang Rai. Nice comfy decor and very friendly staff.

Night Bazaar & Food Court

Frequented this area on a couple of evenings as you can pick up cheap delicious local meals and treats.

One night, a huge crowd danced the night away and the older gent in the pink hat (right) was dancing like there was no tomorrow…so great.

Central Plaza

Apart from all the usual goods you can buy in your typical plaza, the food here is pretty cheap and delicious.

Eating here a couple of times, the ground floor offers the best-valued meals – many locals also eat here.

Connect Cafe

Extensive selection of food (local and western) at varying prices – something for everyone. Good atmosphere and music. Try the mixed berry juice – delicious and won’t break the bank.

Opposite the Old Bus Terminal (city centre), this little cafe is bustling with foreign tourists.

Leaving Chiang Rai for Laos

If you find yourself in Chiang Rai and wanting to cross the border overland into Laos (Huay Xai, Bokeo), you can only buy the international bus ticket on the day of travel. You won’t be sold a ticket beforehand so save yourself time, angst, and petrol.

The bus leaves from the International bus station, which is about 3 kilometres south of Chiang Rai.

Visit my Nilla’s Photography Thailand gallery for more images. More blogs on Thailand.

Thailand: Khun Korn Waterfall near Chiang Rai
Khun Korn Waterfall entrance – shut in the wet season
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