Chiang Rai charms

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Mun Wai travels to charming Chiang Rai in Thailand to discover its secrets.

Transcript of Chiang Rai charms

  • 1. Travel: Chiang RaiCharming Chiang Rai When in Thailands northernmost Chiang Rai, do like WONG MUN WAI and get out and about to soak in the cool surrounds.6 LIFESTYLE lite DECEMBER 2010Lite-Travel-chiangRai.indd 6 11/23/10 3:24:29 PM

2. T he sky was turning to dusk, with golden hues fast staining the blue, as our coach rolled in to the capital Chiang Rai, in Thailands northernmost province also named Chiang Rai. After the almost three-hour journey from Chiang Mai, our coach pulled up to the entrance of the swanky Le Meridien. Set along the Mae Kok River, the 159-room hotel boasts generously-sized rooms, with the smallest measuring 53 sq m, and balcony views that scan a private lake, lush lawns and the river setting the tone for a great time within the hotels interior and out and around the province. Chiang Rai is a destination with a holiday personality all its own, offering plenty of activities to indulge everyone from the hammock-inclined to the adventure seeker. Founded in 1262 by King Meng Rai, Chiang Rai was the rst capital of the Lanna Thai Kingdom (Kingdom of a million rice elds), and later conquered by Burma. Thailand had to wait until 1786 before Chiang Rai became a Thai territory, and in 1910, it was proclaimed a province during the reign of King Rama VI. Chiang Rai is a destination with a holiday personality all its own, offering plenty of activities to indulge everyone from the hammock-inclined to the adventure seeker.LIFESTYLE lite DECEMBER 2010 7Lite-Travel-chiangRai.indd 711/19/10 3:35:33 PM 3. Travel: Chiang Rai Doi Tung Royal Villas concrete Not too far away from the Royal exterior is decorated withVilla, the Mae Fah LuangTo savour a slice of wood slabs cut from discarded Garden, in the compound of royalty, make yourteak trees while the interior,the Doi Tung Pavillion, beckons. which invites a steady breeze, is A serene scene of lush rollingway to the Doi panelled with recycled pinewood hills over 10 acres and a variety of from crates that carried owers in the foreground reward Tung Royal Villa. imported tools and equipment. those taking a stop in their step. Nestled high up Gaze heavenwards for one of the The most northern point inamidst greenery, the Royal Villas highlights theThailand, Mai Sai is a shortspacious Royal Villa ceiling in the main hall features distance away from the Thai- a handcrafted wood inlay of Myanmar border. The main roadwas built with the latethe Princess Mothers favourite leading up to the border is a hivePrincess Mothers ownconstellations.Lightbulbs,of activity, lined with shops, and standing in for stars, in the lle with locals and curious d private funds, and shecentre of the ceiling show thetourists. Mai Sai is famous for considered it her rstconstellations position on its gem market, with a precious October 21, 1900, the birth display of Myanmar-mined rubies,real home in Thailand. date of the Princess Mother.emeralds and jade for sale.8 LIF STYLLIFESTYLIFESTYLLIFESTYLELIFESTYLE IF TYL IFE TY litlitlitelite ite DEC MBE 01 DECEMBER 2010 DECEMBER 20 DECEMBER 201 DECEMBER 2010ECE BEREC BELite-Travel-chiangRai.indd 8 11/23/10 3:24:44 PM 4. Getting AroundA samlw (three-wheeled pedicab) ride in thecentre of Chiang Rai should set you back 30B($1.30). A Tk-tk ride costs double. You canalso rent motorbikes from guesthouses. At STMotorcycle, motorbikes rental is from 150Ba day ($6.50) and bicycles are available for rentfrom 60 to 100B a day ($2.60 to $4.34). Youmay also like to consider renting motorbikesfrom Goodwill Motorcycle Hire/JoesBike Team, Dang Hire Bike or C & PService. Car rental is available from severalcompanies near Wang Come Hotel at aboutIf you fancy a whiff of opium history, make your1,200B a day ($52).way to the infamous Golden Triangle wherethe borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meetat the con uence of the Mekong and Nam Ruak Best Time t o Visitrivers. Known to the Thais as Sop Ruak, visitorsIn the north, winter starts in November andcan also spend some time in the area marvelling ends in February. These are the best monthsat the impressive giant Golden Buddha, built to for a visit to the North and Northeast - owerscommemorate the Queens 72nd birthday.are in full bloom, it is dry and cool, with mist-wrapped mountains for a visually stunningWat Rong Khun, also known as the Whiteexperience.Temple and best viewed under the glow ofmoonlight, is about e kilometres southv Shoppingof Chiang Rai. The temple was designed by Chiang Rais night market, near the bus station,Thailands famous artist Chalermchai Kositpipat.starts in the early evening until about 11pm.The construction, supervised by the artist, started Fake copies of branded designer goods jostlein 1998 and features a unique blend of traditionalfor shoppers attention alongside hill tribeBuddhist art with contemporary themes.fabrics, silver, beads and needlework. lite Mai Sai is famous for its gem market, with a precious display of Myanmar-mined rubies, emeralds and jade for sale.FLIGHTS TO CHIANG RAI prices vary depending on carrierThai Airways to Chiang Rai one stopover SilkAir two stopoversSingapore Airlines ies two stopovers Bangkok Airways two stopoversCathay Pacic one stopoverAirAsia two stopoversLIFESTYLE lite DECEMBER 2010 9Lite-Travel-chiangRai.indd 911/19/10 3:36:10 PM