Chiang Rai is the capital of Chiang Rai province in Northern Thailand, where 12 young football players and their coach went missing after setting out to explore a cave. Far from the beaten tourism track, the city is home is several impressive Buddhist temples. Is it worth a visit?
Chiang Rai is one of Thailand’s best kept secrets. The country’s northernmost province, Chiang Rai is blanketed by rolling hills, soaring mountains, lush forests, and a melting pot of cultures.
The culture of the province has been inspired by the Lanna and other indigenous ethnic groups. Trekking tours into the hills have proved popular with both domestic and foreign tourists.
The province’s provincial capital, the eponymous city of Chiang Rai, is the commercial hub of the iconic Golden Triangle, which spans Northwestern Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar, a.k.a. Burma.
Key Chiang Rai Tourist Attractions
The city of Chiang Rai, whose metropolitan population stands at roughly 200,000 people, is a bit laid-back by Thai standards.
Interest in visiting Chiang Rai, however, will surely rise owing the publicity it has received during the Thai Cave Rescue saga.
Will tourists soon be beating a path to the region’s door?
The government has already announced plans to turn Tham Luang Nang Non into a tourist attraction.
Existing tourist attractions include the Mae Fah Luang Art and Culture Park, the Hilltribe Museum and Education Centre, the Oub Kham Museum, the Clock Tower, the Tham Tu Pu and Buddha Cave, the Morning Market, the Weekend Market, and the Walking Street.
But Chiang Rai’s biggest draws are its beautiful Buddhist temples. Here are 10 of the most famous:
1. White Temple
Wat Rong Khun – a.k.a. the White Temple, Lahaul-Spiti, Pa O Don Chai Subdistrict, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
2. Phra That Doi Chom Thong Temple
Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong – Doi Tung, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
3. Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Wat Phra Kaew – a.k.a. the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, 19 Moo 1, Tambol Wiang, Ampur Muang, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
4. Phra Sing Temple
Wat Phra Sing – Tha Luang Road, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
5. Ming Mueang Temple
Wat Ming Mueang – Bap Prakan Road, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
6. Mengrai Maharat Temple
Wat Mengrai Maharat – Nakhai Road, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
7. Chetuphon Temple
Wat Chetuphon – Ratcha Yotha Soi 3, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
8. Chet Yoi Temple
Wat Chet Yot – Chet Yot Road, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
9. Chiang Man Temple
Wat Chiang Man – 270 Ratchapakhinai Road, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand.
10. Chiang Yuen Temple
Wat Chiang Yuen – San Khong Luang Road, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
Thai Cave Rescue Saga
For two weeks in mid-2018, the world’s attention was focused on a cave in Chiang Rai province.
Tham Luang Nang Non, which means “Great Cave of the Sleeping Lady”, is a semi-dry limestone cave in the Doi Nang Non mountain range, which runs along the border between Thailand and Myanmar.
The 10 kilometre (6.2 mile) long cave is crisscrossed with deep recesses, narrow passages, and lengthy tunnels.
Parts of the network of caves do, in fact, often become flooded during the rainy season, which runs from July to November.
On 23 June 2018, a group of local football players aged between 11 and 17 decided to explore the cave. Once inside, they contacted their football coach, Ekapol Chantawong, and asked him to join them.
At some point, it started to rain, and a key part of the cave near the entrance became flooded.
Unable to exit the cave, the boys and their coach withdrew more deeply into it. For several days, there was no word from them.
A ranger of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation alerted authorities that a group had gone missing when he saw the belongings they had left behind at the entrance of the cave.
For the next two weeks, Chiang Rai became the centre of global interest as both domestic and international media descended on the region to report on the unfolding saga.
Where to Learn Meditation in Chiang Rai
Meditation is a time-honoured Buddhist practice, which forms an integral part of the path toward Enlightenment and Nirvana.
Buddhist meditation techniques have become increasingly popular in the wider world, with many non-Buddhists taking them up for a variety of reasons.
During the Thai Cave Rescue saga, the boys’ coach – who hadpreviously been ordained as a Buddhist monk – reportedly taught them how to meditate to help them manage stress during their ordeal.
There are many places to learn Buddhist meditation in Thailand. This is one of the most popular meditation centres in Chiang Rai …
- Cherntawan International Meditation Center – 217 Moo 25 | Banmaisanpaheang, Huay Sak Subdistrict, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
How to Get to Chiang Rai
There are no trains to Chiang Rai, and getting there by bus is a bit complicated. For most travelers, flying there is the best option.
Chiang Rai International Airport is served by several domestic and two international airlines, with scheduled airline service to two cities in Greater China: Kunming and Hong Kong.
Where to Stay
- Le Meridien Chiang Mai Resort, Thailand – 221 / 2 Moo 20 Kwaewai Road, Tambon Robwieng, Amphur Muang, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
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