The northern-most province in Thailand is Chiang Rai Province. Some 780 kilometres from Bangkok, Chiang Rai has a cooler climate than the rest of Thailand and is noted for its scenic mountain ranges, lush green valleys and tropical fruits such as lychees and pineapples. People have lived in what is now Chiang Rai Province in Thailand for centuries. From the 7th to the 13th centuries it was ruled by King Mangrai the Great and was the centre of the Lanna Kingdom (the Kingdom of a Million Rice Fields). King Mangrai made Chiang Rai town his capital in 1262 (King Mang Rai's City). However, in 1558 the area fell under Burmese rule and remained occupied for over 200 years. It wasn't until 1932 that it was classified as a northern region, part of the country of Siam (now Thailand).
Now Days the city of Chiang Rai s a thriving little city and a great place to visit in its own right making it a great place to stay while visiting the many places within the Province. There are many great places to visit while in Chiang Rai Province and I presented some of the very best below:
Wat Phra Kaew in Chiang-Rai is historically significant for the Thai People. It was a past home to the Emerald Buddha now located in Wat Phra Kaew next to the Grand Palace in Bangkok. Within the grounds of the Temple there is a Buddhist Museum which is worth walking through if you have the time. The Temple is located in downtown Chiang-Rai and you can follow the link in this blog to see the exact location.
Most of the cities in Thailand have a 'city pillar', which is usually made of stone and situated in a spot that is considered to be the heart of the city. These religious pillars or omphalos are sometimes referred to as 'navel' pillars because they sit in the center of the city (not to be confused with the word 'naval', which refers to the navy.)
The Sadu Meuang (Navel City Pillar) of Chiang Rai is unusual because instead of being just one pillar it is made up of 109 separate pillars. It was constructed in 1987 to mark the occasion of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej's sixtieth birthday and the 725th anniversary of the City.
The monument was designed and built using the Khmer style in accordance with traditional Lanna beliefs, which reflects a combination of Buddhist and Hindu theology. There is a central column, which stands on a marble triangular base. This column is said to be five times as wide as His Majesty's fist and as high as His Majesty is tall. The other 108 columns are laid out around the central column, with the outside pillars signifying the earthly realm of human beings and the inner part comprising of six tiers representing the six realms of heaven (Catummaharajika, Tavatimsa, Yama, Tusita, Nimmanarati, and Paranimmitavasavatti).
Chiang-Mai is well known throughout Thailand for the delicious strawberries that are grown in the Province's fertile soil. Taking a stop at one of the farms is a great experience and a great time to taste some fantastic strawberries. The farm I had stopped allowed me to tour the farm with my camera. The strawberries were very sweet and delicious.
Tucked away in Wiang Kaen sub-district, some 130 kilometers from Chiang Rai Town lies Doi Pha Tang. Doi Pha Tang is a very beautiful mountain on the border between Thailand and Laos, about 25 km to the north of the more popular tourist spot Phu Chi Fa.
This peaceful and scenic 1,638 meter mountain is home to a number of ethnic groups including the Chinese Haw, the Hmong and the Yao, many of whom have largely maintained their own unique culture and way of life. If you get the chance, be sure to experience some of the local food. There are many Chinese restaurants and the roadside stands selling preserved fruits such as apricots, peaches, red cherries, and Chinese pears are not to be missed. The climate here is much cooler than the rest of the country allowing the local farmers to produce many fruits that cannot be found elsewhere in Thailand.
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