Chiang Rai charms


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Mun Wai travels to charming Chiang Rai in Thailand to discover its secrets.

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Chiang Rai charms

  1. 1. Travel: Chiang Rai C harming Chiang Rai When in Thailand’s northernmost Chiang Rai, do like WONG MUN WAI and get out and about to soak in the cool surrounds. 6 LIFESTYLE lite DECEMBER 2010Lite-Travel-chiangRai.indd 6 11/23/10 3:24:29 PM
  2. 2. T he sky was turning to dusk, with golden hues fast staining the blue, as our coach rolled in to the capital Chiang Rai, in Thailand’s northernmost province also named Chiang Rai. After the almost three-hour journey from Chiang Mai, our coach pulled up to the entrance of the swanky Le Meridien. Set along the Mae Kok River, the 159-room hotel boasts generously-sized rooms, with the smallest measuring 53 sq m, and balcony views that scan a private lake, lush lawns and the river – setting the tone for a great time within the hotel’s interior and out and around the province. Chiang Rai is a destination with a holiday personality all its own, offering plenty of activities to indulge everyone from the hammock-inclined to the adventure seeker. Founded in 1262 by King Meng Rai, Chiang Rai was the fi rst capital of the Lanna Thai Kingdom (Kingdom of a million rice fi elds), and later conquered by Burma. Thailand had to wait until 1786 before Chiang Rai became a Thai territory, and in 1910, it was proclaimed a province during the reign of King Rama VI. Chiang Rai is a destination with a holiday personality all its own, offering plenty of activities to indulge everyone from the hammock-inclined to the adventure seeker. LIFESTYLE lite DECEMBER 2010 7Lite-Travel-chiangRai.indd 7 11/19/10 3:35:33 PM
  3. 3. Travel: Chiang Rai Doi Tung Royal Villa’s concrete Not too far away from the Royal exterior is decorated with Villa, the Mae Fah Luang To savour a slice of wood slabs cut from discarded Garden, in the compound of royalty, make your teak trees while the interior, the Doi Tung Pavillion, beckons. which invites a steady breeze, is A serene scene of lush rolling way to the Doi panelled with recycled pinewood hills over 10 acres and a variety of from crates that carried fl owers in the foreground reward Tung Royal Villa. imported tools and equipment. those taking a stop in their step. Nestled high up Gaze heavenwards for one of the The most northern point in amidst greenery, the Royal Villa’s highlights – the Thailand, Mai Sai is a short spacious Royal Villa ceiling in the main hall features distance away from the Thai- a handcrafted wood inlay of Myanmar border. The main road was built with the late the Princess Mother’s favourite leading up to the border is a hive Princess Mother’s own constellations. Lightbulbs, of activity, lined with shops, and standing in for stars, in the fi lle with locals and curious d private funds, and she centre of the ceiling show the tourists. Mai Sai is famous for considered it her first constellations’ position on its gem market, with a precious October 21, 1900, the birth display of Myanmar-mined rubies, real home in Thailand. date of the Princess Mother. emeralds and jade for sale. 8 LIF STYL LIFESTY LIFESTYL LIFESTYLE LIFESTYLE IF TYL IFE TY lit lit lite lite ite DEC MBE 01 DECEMBER 2010 DECEMBER 20 DECEMBER 201 DECEMBER 2010 ECE BER EC BELite-Travel-chiangRai.indd 8 11/23/10 3:24:44 PM
  4. 4. Getting Around A sâamláw (three-wheeled pedicab) ride in the centre of Chiang Rai should set you back 30B ($1.30). A Túk-túk ride costs double. You can also rent motorbikes from guesthouses. At ST Motorcycle, motorbikes rental is from 150B a day ($6.50) and bicycles are available for rent from 60 to 100B a day ($2.60 to $4.34). You may also like to consider renting motorbikes from Goodwill Motorcycle Hire/Joe’s Bike Team, Dang Hire Bike or C & P Service. Car rental is available from several companies near Wang Come Hotel at about If you fancy a whiff of opium history, make your 1,200B a day ($52). way to the infamous Golden Triangle where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet at the confl uence of the Mekong and Nam Ruak Best Time t o Visit rivers. Known to the Thais as Sop Ruak, visitors In the north, winter starts in November and can also spend some time in the area marvelling ends in February. These are the best months at the impressive giant Golden Buddha, built to for a visit to the North and Northeast - flowers commemorate the Queen’s 72nd birthday. are in full bloom, it is dry and cool, with mist- wrapped mountains for a visually stunning Wat Rong Khun, also known as the White experience. Temple and best viewed under the glow of moonlight, is about fi e kilometres south v Shopping of Chiang Rai. The temple was designed by Chiang Rai’s night market, near the bus station, Thailand’s famous artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. starts in the early evening until about 11pm. The construction, supervised by the artist, started Fake copies of branded designer goods jostle in 1998 and features a unique blend of traditional for shoppers’ attention alongside hill tribe Buddhist art with contemporary themes. fabrics, silver, beads and needlework. lite Mai Sai is famous for its gem market, with a precious display of Myanmar-mined rubies, emeralds and jade for sale. FLIGHTS TO CHIANG RAI – prices vary depending on carrier Thai Airways to Chiang Rai – one stopover SilkAir – two stopovers Singapore Airlines flies – two stopovers Bangkok Airways – two stopovers Cathay Pacific – one stopover AirAsia – two stopovers LIFESTYLE lite DECEMBER 2010 9Lite-Travel-chiangRai.indd 9 11/19/10 3:36:10 PM