Chiang Rai is ideally situated for discovering Thailand’s Golden Triangle, so three days in the city give you ample time to immerse yourself in local culture and cuisine, and explore the northern highlands. Here’s how.
Doi Mae Salong
Chiang Rai , Thailand
Day trips from Chiang Rai often combine a visit to Doi Mae Salong with nearby villages such as Mae Sai on the Myanmar border, or a tour and tasting at one of the highland tea plantations. Explore Mae Salong village with a guide to learn more about the town’s unique Chinese history, settled by Chinese nationalist soldiers after the Chinese Civil War. Arrive in the morning to stroll around the local market, sample traditional Chinese cuisine and Oolong tea at one of the village restaurants, and visit the Tomb of General Tuan Shi-wen.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The village is located at 3,937 feet (1,200 meters) and it can get chilly in the evening even in the summer months; bring warm clothing, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent.
- There are a number of guesthouses, restaurants, and cafés in the village.
- Active types can hike up to the hilltop Sinakarintra Stit Mahasantikhiri Pagoda for a view over the valley.
- Mae Sai is famous for its Oolong tea, which makes a popular souvenir.
How to Get There
Doi Mae Salong is located in northern Thailand, close to the Myanmar border. The village is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) northwest of Chiang Rai or about a 1.5-hour drive. To reach the village by public transport, take a bus from Chiang Rai to Mae Chan, then a songthaew to Mae Salong. It’s far quicker and easier to arrive with private transport, so most travelers opt to visit as part of a guided tour.
When to Get There
It’s possible to visit Doi Mae Salong throughout the year, but it’s busiest from November to February when it’s worth booking accommodation in advance. This is also when the village’s Thai Sakura (cherry blossom) trees are in bloom. The village is most atmospheric during the morning market, but you’ll need to make an early start—the main action takes place from 5am to 8am, after which locals head to one of the local cafés for breakfast.
Day Trips from Chiang Rai Other popular day trip destinations from Chiang Rai include trekking to Akha, Hmong, Lisu, and Karen villages; cruising along the Mekong River or Mae Kok River in a traditional long-tail boat; and exploring the Golden Triangle region, where you can learn more about the region’s opium trade and see the meeting point of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. Closer to the city, the Singha Park offers hiking trails, ziplining, and tea plantation tours.
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