Chiang Rai is the capital of the province of the same name. King Mangrai founded the city in 1262. He moved his capital thirty years later to Chiang Mai. Just as Chiang Mai the city was occupied by Burmese forces and became part of a Burmese kingdom. In 1786 the city became a vassal of Chiang Mai and in 1933 formally a part of Siam. The city has grown in importance in the past decades due to its proximity to Laos, Myanmar and China. Because the border with these countries have opened Chiang Rai is not anymore a dead end.
As far as tourism is concerned the city has always been somewhat in the shadow of Chiang Mai, its bigger brother. The city has developed in recent years. Trekking is one activity that has been popular for a long time. In recent years many new attractions have come up such at Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple; Baan Dam, the Black House; Wat Rong Sua Ten, the Blue Temple and the impressive Wat Huay Plaa Kang.
Chiang Rai is the province of the Akha people. There are many Akha villages in Chiang Rai province, more than in any other province. Apart from the Akha there are many other minority groups in this province such as the Lisu, Lahu, Hmong, Yao and lesser known groups such as Lua and Tai Ya.
Furthermore Chiang Rai is the jump off point for tours to the Golden Triangle, Doi Mae Salong, Doi Chang and Doi Tung. Chiang Saen is one of our favourite destinations. A lesser known archaeological attraction is Wiang Lo, ruins of the 15th and 16th century.
There are plenty of things to do and enjoy in Chiang Rai.