Chiang Rai is a small city in the north of Thailand and it's best known for being the main city near the golden triangle (known as one of the main illicit opium-producing areas in Asia), although Thailand uses Chiang Rai as the entrance for tourists to see where the Mekong and Ruak rivers join and it is possible to see three countries -- Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma).
The region surrounding Chiang Rai is rich in natural attractions and cultural sites revealing the past and present of Thailand. Take a few treks and use some knowledge from the locals to guide you. Most of the treks are not dangerous or too rough, but the paths aren't always marked. The culture in the north of Thailand is a little bit different from the south and you'll easily find hill tribes (short drive to the long neck tribe, for example) and a lot of handicrafts, different dresses, and ornaments. Don't miss the White Temple -- it is one of the best in all of Thailand!
Chiang Rai is easily accessible by airplane -- there are really cheap flights from Bangkok if you book in advance -- or by bus if you are coming from Chiang Mai. Chiang Rai is also a great spot to travel to Laos through the Mekong river.
If you stay in any of the Chiang Rai hostels, try to get in touch with local culture, asking advice from the staff. Most hostels in Chiang Rai have English-speaking staff, which means that they speak just enough to give you what you need or to sell you something. Don't expect too much from the hostels in Chiang Rai, most of the times you'll get a bed in a dorm with a fan and a wonderful breakfast with pancakes, bananas, and chocolate -- but usually there are no common kitchens, although they have really cheap and tasty Thai meals.
Hi, I'm CoffeeMarks,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Chiang Rai hostels. Welcome.