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Chiang Rai is Thailand's northern most province and is bordered with Myanmar in the north and Laos in the east. Chiang Rai City remains a sleepy provincial town with a relaxed feel. When compared to its' sister town Chiang Mai, it has a more calm and easygoing feel but is never short on cultural and historical attractions of its own. Founded in 1262 as the capital of the Mengrai Dynasty, today the city preserves a strong Lanna identity, mostly through its remarkable collection of temples, art, music, language and cuisine.
Downtown Chiang Rai is fairly small and so generally easy to get around in. Unless your aim is to visit the more isloated areas further north or south, getting around on a bicycle, motorbike or on foot should be adequate. Unlike Chiang Mai, the city offers less variety when it comes to shopping, nightlife and entertainment, and most of these are concentrated in the area around the Clock Tower. South of it is a 400 metre stretch where you'll find a selection of bars and pubs. North of the Clock Tower is the central market. West you will find a variety of budget eateries and shops selling local snacks. To its east the Night Bazaar is off Phaholyothin Road.
Whilst not being as well-known as Chiang Mai, the province and city of Chiang Rai offers plenty to see and do. Considered one of Thailand's oldest settlements and having a strong association with the Tai ethnic culture, many of the temples and architecture have origins back to the Lanna kingdom. Within the city and its' outskirts you will find a selection of interesting museums and cultural parks. The Mae Kok River which runs through the north of the city is a good launching point for an excursion to visit hidden waterfalls, hot springs, caves and hill-tribe villages near the city area. Then, there are other activities, such as golfing, wellness spa experiences, cycling, or temple tours by tram.
The two most popular ways to get to Chiang Rai are firstly taking a direct flight from Bangkok which takes around one hour. The second one is by driving from Chiang Mai which can take 3-4 hours through mountains and scenic roads.
Explore Chiang Rai, its' stunning scenery and wealth of traditional culture. Choose to stay close to the city center or further afield with its' mountainous atmosphere. A stay in a private villa in Chiang Rai is an ideal escape and perfect location to explore this most northerly province of Thailand.