Places to visit

Chiang Rai

Khun Chae national park

Khun Chae national park Wiang Pa Pao Chiang Rai

Khun Chae national park is located 1 hour drive to the northeast of Chiang Mai, was declared a nation park in 1995 due to its important water resources, extensive forests, wildlife, beautiful waterfalls and scenic views. Deriving its name from Khun Chae waterfalls, the park covers 270 square kilometers.

Khun Chae national park is the area where located in the exposed base rock is of two different types igneous and sedimentary. Most of the park is covered with granite, an igneous rock common in northern Thailand. Granite looks like large grains of shining salt and black pepper. The white part that looks like salt is really quartz and feldspar. The black part that looks like pepper is mica. Another igneous rock found in the park is called tuff which was expelled from a volcano as lava, but cooled relatively quickly into a gray, fine grained rock. This volcanic tuff can be found in parts of the eastern side of the park. The sedimentary rocks; sandstone, siltstone and shale are derived from sediments deposited in water and hardened into solid rock over a long period of time. The sandstone found in Khun Chae is gray, with small grains of sand mixed in a dense, hard rock. The shale is buff colored, soft and splits easily along parallel lines.
khun chae national park
The landscape of Khun Chae is very steep with many creeks often dropping into a number of waterfalls. The steep terrain is caused primarily by the high volume of seasonal rain, and highly erodable soil.

The vegetation of Khun Chae national park is generally related to elevation. From 300 to 800 meters, the forest is composed of bamboo, deciduous and deciduous dipterocarp-oak associations; from 800 to 1,000 meters, the forest is mixed evergreen and pine. The stream bottoms are often surrounded by lush evergreen trees, wild bananas, ferns, mosses and herbaceous vegetation. These stream bottoms often form a rich oasis of vegetation in a forest that is routinely burned by villagers that hunt wildlife and graze cattle. The ridges and mountain tops are typically covered with grasses, pine, oaks and dipterocarps. Near the eastern boundary of the park, a dry dipterocarp forest dominates the landscape.

Khun Chae national park Annual Climate
The cold season lasts from November until July, the rainy season from July until November. During the hot dry season, February to July, the temperatures range from 22 to 33ยบC. During the cold dry season, November to January, the temperature ranges from 2 to 29ยบC. In the rainy season temperatures range from 19 to 29ยบC.

Wildlife can be seen in several different habitats. The prime places to see wildlife are in the lush river valleys and moist forests near the higher parts of the park. Though many species of wildlife have disappeared, the following list of animals have been seen recently within its boundaries: several species of civet, wild pig, barking deer, hog badger, many species of flying arboreal and ground squirrels, bats, hare. Possible species in Khun Chae include Asiatic black bear, Slow Loris, White Handed Gibbon, Leopard Cat, Serow. Birds such as Ashy Drongo, Scarlet Minivet, Gray Headed Flycatcher, White Fronted Forktail, Brown Fish Owl, Crested Serpent Eagle, Shikra, Velvet Fronted-Nuthatch, Blue Throated Barbet, CopperSmith Barbet, Blue Winged Leafbird, Brown Cheeked Fulveta, Red Bungle Fowl still exist. Reptiles in the park include Green Tree Viper, King Cobra, Flying Lizards, Geckos, Skinks.

Interesting Place in Khun Chae national park

Maetow waterfall
: It has seven levels, the highest of which is about 40 meters. From the park headquarters, the trailhead to Maetow waterfall is approximately 30 to 40 minutes by vehicle. From the trailhead, all seven levels of the fall can be reached in approximately two hours hiking.

Khun Chae waterfall: The 6 level fall is reached by 2 hours drive from the park's headquarters to the trail head and an hour hike from there. A picnic are is provided.

Doi Mot
: The trail to Doi Mot passes through a spectacular wet evergreen forest. A lush, dense, multiple layered forest covers a clear cool pond, surrounded by a thick growth of ground plants including epiphytic and ground orchids, ferns, mosses and other plants that love shade and a wet environment. The top of the mountain, at 1700 meters, affords spectacular views of the forests and landscape of the surrounding area. Visitors can see Chiangmai province to the west, Chiang Rai province to the east, Doi Lahnga to the south and to the north, Doi Phangome.

Doi Lahnga: At just over 2,000 meters, majestic Doi Lahnga is Thailand's fifth highest peak. The trail to the top of Doi Lahnga enable visitors to see many spectacular views of Khun Chae national park and the surrounding area. Doi Lahnga and its many sister peaks are located on the extreme southern boundary of the park, adjacent to Jae Son national park and Mae Dahkry national park.

The Fascinating fig tree: One of the unique features of Khun Chae national park is an enormous, structurally unique, fig tree that grows near the park's headquarters. This tree is remarkable for its size, covering an area of approximately 1,660 square meters; the number and variety of plants (epiphytes) that live on it; and the fantastic structural support that its large branches get from several supporting stems.

Forest shrine: A small Buddhist shrine, located a short distance from the park's headquarters, features a garden with a statue of the Lord Buddha and a nature trail that follows a charming mountain stream. The outdoor temple is a peaceful spot along the Chiangmai - Chiang Rai highway for travel weary motorists as well as park visitors.

Mae Chang Khao reservoir: It is located near station 1. Picnickers ride out to the middle of the lake on a bamboo raft and enjoy their meal in the quiet and peaceful atmosphere of a freshwater lake.

Accommodation
Khun Chae national park has two large guest houses, one with a capacity of 15, the other with a capacity of 20. Both guest houses are new, spacious, have two bathrooms with western style toilets, and large observation decks with beautiful views of the area near park's headquarters. The facilities at three substations are limited.

You to get Khun Chae national park by personal car or buses
The park is located adjacent to the main high way connecting Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. To get to the park from Chiang Mai, take high way no. 118 for 56 km northeast of Chiangmai. Between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai there are ordinary and air conditioned buses as well as pick up cars running this route.

Contact address
Khun Chae National Park
Mae Chae Dee Mai
Wiang Pa Pao District
Chiang Rai 57260

Wiang Pa Pao

Wiang Pa Pao Chiang Rai


Wiang Pa Pao is the southwesternmost district (Amphoe) of Chiang Rai Province, northern Thailand. Wiang Pa Pao is located in a picturesque green valley surrounded by mountains. Attractions include Bo Nam Ron (hotspring), Khun Chae National Park with steep terrain and several hilltops and cliffs over 1,400 metre high.
wiang pa pao chiangrai
Wiang Pa Pao Hot Springs
The aforementioned Chiang Mai- Chiang Rai.com site describes the following:

Wieng Pa Pao hot spring is located at a midway point between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai on highway 1019. Most people travelling by road stop at Wieng Pa Pao for a short break. Here are restaurants, a fresh produce and flower market and a bazaar selling items made by the hill tribes and lowland Thais. One popular activity at the hot spring is to hard boil eggs in the boiling water. The clever vendors have attached baskets on a long pole making the activity safe and fun for customers of all age to boil the eggs. If you can't encourage your children to cook at home, they will love to boil eggs here. Other than this the hot spring hasn't been develop for recreation use but plans are underway to develop this spring as a spa.

Oddly enough again the map situates them elsewhere, just off highway 1150, two kms from highway 118. We recommend Suanthip Vana Resort for accommodation.
Suanthip Vana Resort located Wiang Pa Pao, a picturesque green valley surrounded by mountains. Attractions include
Bo Nam Ron (hotspring), Khun Chae National Park with steep terrain and several hilltops and cliffs over 1,400 metre high. Some 70 km from Chiang Rai and 107 km from Chiang Mai, Suanthip Vana Resort is easily accessible from both cities.

Transportation from either city to the resort is available upon request. The resort is woven into a hillside location among orchards, overlooking the Mae Nam Lao River. Warm colours and large rooms which incorporate style and comfort are only two aspects of this quiet secluded hideaway. The natural scenery and magnificent views will complete your perfect holiday.
A comprehensive list of services and facilities include a library room, assistance with travel arrangements at the tour desk, laundry service, and an on-call medical service. Transportation is available upon request, and the resort has its own local arts & crafts centre.

Health & Relaxation
Being this at home with nature, relaxation comes easily. Facilities include a modern Fitness Centre, swimming pool,
and jogging tracks that meander through the grounds. More restful activities are the snooker room and the campfire
barbecue area.

Services Facilities
A comprehensive list of services and facilities include a library room, assistance with travel arrangements at the tour
desk, laundry service, and an on-call medical service. Transportation is available upon request.

Meetings, Conferences & Banquets
The resorts peaceful surroundings are an ideal backdrop for a range of social or business functions. Conduct seminars
with modern equipment, but no distractions, in either of 2 function rooms, each with a capacity of 50-100 persons.
Attractive garden areas are available for outdoor parties, catering comfortably for 100-200 guests.

Chiang Khong

Chiang Khong Chiang Rai



Chiang Khong is in Chiang Rai Province, Northern Thailand. Chiang Khong Located 114 kilometres northeast of Chiang Rai and 55 Kilometres east of Chiang Saen, this is a small district by the Khong River. Its fame lies in its cloth weaving at Ban Hat Bai and, in the Khong River, the Pla Buk the world's largest freshwater cat fish capable of reaching 2.5 metres long and weighing 300 kilograms. Each April celebrations are held when the giant fish are caught. At the Chiang Khong Fishery Station, fertilisation of the fish can be witnessed.

Chiang Khong is the Thai counterpart to the Lao border town of Huay Xai, just across the Mekong. Chiang Khong is a small, sleepy town with one main road and no night life. It has a Friday market, a lot of temples, a craft village with a busy market and a temple. The best time to visit is from October to January, or on the April 18 Giant Catfish Festival when baby giant catfish are taken to the Mekong river.
chiang-khong-chiang-rai
Buses arrive from Chiang Rai every 30 minutes from 5.00 AM to 16.00 PM and other major cities in Northern Thailand and Isaan. Daytime and overnight buses run directly from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Moh Chit) to Chiang Khong every day. There are also 5 overnight buses from Moh Chit which leave at 19.00 pm and arrive at Chiang Khong the next morning at 8.00 am, and one daytime bus which leaves Moh Chit at 7.00 am and arrives in Chiang Khong at 20.00 pm.

The riverfront area can be seen on foot but it's worth getting a tuk-tuk or taxi for the trip out to the bus station. Small ferries cross the river every few minutes for about 20 baht (50,000 kip). The border crossing closes at 20:00.
chiang-khong-thai-laos-border
If you want to look around Chiang Khong the best way is rent a bike or motorbike to visit local villages and the banks of the Mekong.
At Chiang Khong one can cross the Mekong river to come to Lao's Huayxai town of Bokeo province. Visa on arrival is available. Nationals with visa-free privilege to Thailand can do visa run at these two borders to extend their Thailand stay.

Mae Sai

Mae Sai Chiang Rai


Mae Sai is the northern-most city of Thailand. It is mainly a stepping stone for visits to Myanmar and has no attractions of its own. Mae Sai is Thailand's northern most border district to Chiang Saen A small town about 30 kms. further from Mae Chan. Its lovely setting on the Mae Khong River strongly enchants the charm of its old temples ; Wat Pa Sak , Wat Phrathat Chom Kitti etc.

Mae Sai is a boarder town in Chiang Rai Province, some 65km (41mi) north of Chiang Rai. As Mae Sai is just at the border to Burma, Burmese goods, especially handicrafts, can be purchased at good prices. Thais and Burmese and foreign tourists can cross the border officially during daytime. Actually, many Burmese work in Mae Sai. The border river is just about 30cm (1ft) deep.

You can get in by

By bus from Chiang Rai (there are day-tours taking visitors to Mae Sai and the Golden Triangle)

By car which can be rented in Chiang Mai and other cities

Mae Sai is easy to get around on foot, exploring the border area which is probably the only place worth seeing.

Or by car to get around all areas.

See The border

Take a picture with the gate marking the northern-most point of Thailand
Cross the bridge into Tachileik, Myanmar. As of September 2006, a single-day entry permit costs US$10 - travellers using this option are given a paper entry permit and their passports are held at the immigration office until they return to Thailand. Short-term visas-on-arrival are available at this border crossing but they only allow travel in the local area - to travel to the rest of Myanmar, a visa in advance is needed.

In May 2008 the entry fee to Myanmar is 500 Thai Baht or $10 US, and this gives you a 14 day entry permit to the local area. This entry permit has photo id and you are required to leave your passport with Myanmar immigration. Transit travelers can arrange for a visa and can have their passport sent to their port of exit.


There are plenty of small shops lining both sides of the street leading to the border crossing that sell

Cheap jewels (rubies, emerald and jade) imported from Myanmar
Cheap curio items, many of which are imported from China
Fresh cut fruit

Thip Sukon House Hotel, This hotel is probably the best of the lot on the same road as the old King Kobra hotel.From the 3rd floor you have a view right into Myanmar and the Sai River.

Tip Sukon House (642816), Sairom Joy Rd / Superb big concrete rooms w. HW shower 250 but unfortunately on the noisy side of the road.

King Kobra Maesai Guesthouse (733055), 135/5 Sailom Joy / Downstairs rooms 100(1) or 120(2), upstairs w. HW shower 150(1) or 200(2), also more expensive / HW / Go there for the big upstairs rooms, the relaxing lobby, the movies on request, the info about the area from the owner / What you may not like : the lack of view, the rooms downstairs, the road.

Maesai Plaza Guesthouse (053 732230), 386/3 Sailom Joy Rd, just after the above / Bungalows 80, 100 (w. cold shower), 120, 150 (w. HW shower), 200 or 300 / Go there for the original setting on the slope of the hill, the good view, the cheap price for room w. shower / What you may not lack : the size of the place, the lack of cleanliness, the basic rooms, the dim lighting

Northern Guesthouse (731537), 402 Thumphajom Rd, after the above, on the right / Bungalows 60(1) or 80(2), 150 w. HW shower, 200 next to the river / Go there for the good setting inside a nice garden and the cheapest correct bungalow in town / What you may not like : the lack of outside HW, the not so clean common showers & rooms.

River Side Guesthouse (732554), 690 Moo 1 Wiangpangkam Rd, continuing your walk a bit, 5mn from bridge / Nice room with big bed, HW shower and a balcony overlooking the river 200. Unfortunately, it is also next to a small road.

Maesai Guesthouse (732021), 688 Wiangpangkam Rd, 10mn from bridge / Room 100(1) or 150(2), bungalow w. HW shower 200(1) or 300(2), by the river 400 / HW / Go there for the best setting in town in a nice garden by the river, directly facing Burma and the correct rooms (shared bungalow) at a reasonable price

Chiang Saen

Chiang Saen Chiang Rai



Chiang Saen is a town located right next to the Mekong River. The town itself is quite ordinary except for its ruins - ruins that provide archaeological evidence of Chiang Saen former glory as a 14th-century city kingdom.

Chiang Saen has sometimes been described as a sleepy town and, in some ways, it still is. But all is not slumbering in this historic town pleasantly sited on the Thai shore of the majestic Maekhong River. The riverfront is usually abuzz with activity as Chiang Saen has found itself to the forefront of export and import trading with Yunnan Province in China.

Chiang Saen is an easy town to explore on foot but hiring a bicycle or motorcycle makes it easier, cooler and less tiring. Also, if there are several in the group, hiring a songtaew or tuk-tuk is recommended. The driver will take visitors to the various points of interest and wait until the party is ready to move on again. The practice is to negotiate the hire price before beginning the tour and pay when the program is finished.
chiang_saen_chiang_rai
Heavily burdened Chinese riverboats constantly arrive with cargoes of produce especially apples and Thai lorries patiently queue as goods are discharged and trucked away to Chiang Rai, Chiangmai, Bangkok and all points south. Thai products, bound for Yunnan, are then loaded aboard the riverboats and, in increasing numbers, embarking tourists who want to see more of the Maekhong River Basin.

At present, riverboats are shallow draft but there are continuing discussions, sometimes controversial, between the Thai, Chinese and Lao Governments that would see the Maekhong riverbed being deepened to permit navigation for larger, deep drafted vessels. Whatever happens, Chiang Saen is enjoying this new boost to the local economy and visitors are able to enjoy more of the river. Local long-tailed boats scud the waters and may be hired for an hour or so. It is a fun way to see some of the river scenery and life along the Thai side of the river. It is also possible to take a long-tailer across the river to Laos but make sure you have a visa for Laos (visas CANNOT be issued locally).

Much of the town's historic past is brought together at the Chiang Saen National Museum which was established in 1957. The museum is not large but the staff has worked diligently to present a picture of Chiang Saen from its earliest times. There are three distinct sections which, together, cover the history or the settlement including archeological excavations, Lanna Buddha images, northern Thai ceramics, monuments from the town and surrounding areas plus the importance of the Maekhong River. A visit to the museum is recommended to anyone interested in this first town of King Mengrai's Lanna Kingdom. (Museum closed Mondays and Tuesdays)

Behind the National Museum is the temple of Wat Jedi Luang which was built on the orders of King Saen Phu, the 3rd king of the Mengrai Dynasty. The Jedi (Chedi) is regarded as the "Grand Jedi" and is of solid brick construction typical of the times. Another temple, also built by King Saen Phu, is Wat Pa Sak which is sited within what used to be a forest of soaring teak trees. Sadly, the teak trees have long fallen to the axe but the main temple jedi has been restored and rises above the surrounding temple ruins. The "filigree" embellishments hint at some Burmese influence.

Outside the town walls is the very ancient temple of Wat Prathart Doi Jom Gitti. This temple pre-dates the founding of Chiang Saen; the foundations have been dated to the 7th Century and are, indeed, pre-Tai. Interestingly, the word "Jom" is the ancient word for Khmer so this lends credence to the thought that Khmer people exercised influence in the area. A Buddha image, in high relief, decorates the jedi and also there is a bronze plaque. As the Thai word "Doi" (mountain/hill) indicates, the temple is perched on the crest of a hill and affords a splendid panorama of Chiang Saen and the Maekhong River as far as the Golden Triangle. This is a very popular sight for visitors.






Chiang Saen National Museum
Ancient Chiang Saen the first town of the Lanna Kingdom makes for an interesting excursion from Chiang Rai or Mae Sai. It has a laid-back charm, a host of historic sites to see and a modern approach to trade and commerce on the waters of the broad, benevolent Maekhong River. It is another interesting and different place to visit during your time in Northern Thailand.

The town is literally littered with temples (36 in total), fortresses, moats, Buddha images, remnants of city walls and chedi that all bear witness to its intriguing past. In fact some of the monuments are actually older than the Chiang Saen era, providing evidence to an even later kingdom known to locals as Yonok. Many of the artefacts (sculptures, Lanna-style Buddha images and pottery) unearthed in Chiang Saen have been moved to the Chiang Saen National Museum to provide a fascinating insight into the areas history and pre-history. Very close to the Golden Triangle, Chiang Saen is a crossing point into Laos, but only for Thai and Laos citizens. The town also acts as a port for ships from carrying goods from China. Although the archaeological aspects of Chiang Saen are fascinating, the town itself is very quiet, with very little to do. Almost everything in the town closes around 21:00. Worth seeing - but probably not worth going out of your way for.
The ancient Thai capital of Chiang Saen is now a small but intriguing village scattered with silent, brooding ruins on the alluvial plain where the town's lowlands alternate with the hills. This place was once home to King Mengrai, who later founded the Kingdom of Lanna with Chiangmai ("New Walled City") as it's capital.

The remaining earthen ramparts still seen at Chiang Saen today are just a fraction of the defensive walls originally constructed. The Mae Khong River flows along the northern side and Chiang Saen Lake, 4 kms. south of the town, has been developed for recreation with swimming, boating and fishing.

One of the town's main attractions is its charming branch of the National Museum of Thailand. The Chiang Saen National Museum displays excavated artifacts dating back to the very earliest appearance of man in the district.

Chiang Saen's chronicles say that King Saen Phu of the Mengrai Dynasty founded the town, after which at least three princes of the Lanna Kingdom ruled the town before succeeding to the throne at Chiangmai. It was also an important Buddhist center until it was conquered in 1558 A.D. by the Burmese.

From the middle of the 16th century to the mid-18th century, Chiang Saen served as an important military outpost for the Kingdom of Ayuthaya during warfare with Burma. During the first reign of the Bangkok period, when the Burmese were being driven out of Siam, Chiang Saen became a battlefield and the town was burnt. Its people were removed to other towns in the north, or to Bangkok.

The town remained deserted until 1861, when King Rama I ordered a prince from Lamphun to lead people from Lamphun, Chiangmai and Lampang to resettle the town. This prince, Chao Inta, then became ruler of Chiang Saen and received the title Phraya Ratchawong in 1890. Later, the status accorded Chiang Saen suffered, and it has been merely a district of Chiangrai Province since 1907.

The museum is open on Wednesdays to Sundays from 08:30 am to 16:30 pm (except official holidays) and admission is 10 Baht.

You can take buses from Chiang Rai to Chiang Saen run frequently and the fare is 25 Baht.

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