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.
Mae Kok River
Flowing from the Daen Lao Mountains in Myanmar and running for more than 177 miles (285 kilometers before meeting the Mekong River along the Laos border, the Mae Kok River is one of the most important in Northern Thailand. Linking Chiang Rai to the northern villages and borders, it serves an important role for both transport and trade.
Chiang Rai, Thailand
Cruising along the Mae Kok River in a traditional long-tail boat is an atmospheric way to experience local life on the river. Day trips typically follow the section of the river between Chiang Rai and Thathon, a small town close to the Myanmar border. Soak up the scenery on board as you pass lush jungle, riverside villages, and temples. Most tours include a few stops along the way, typically to visit a local village, bathe in the natural hot springs, and enjoy lunch at a riverfront restaurant.
Things to know before you go
- Public transport along the river is limited; it’s best to join a guided tour or charter a private boat.
- Longtail boats can be quite bumpy, uncomfortable, and hot. Bring sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water, and wear clothes that allow you to easily climb on and off the narrow boats. * * You might also want to bring a cushion or blanket to sit on.
- Long-tail boats can be difficult to access for wheelchair users or those with limited mobility. It’s best to discuss your options with your tour provider in advance.
How to get there
Boat cruises along the Mae Kok set out from Chiang Rai. The main port is by the Mae Fah Luang Bridge, two miles (three kilometers) northwest of downtown Chiang Rai. It’s a 10-minute taxi ride from town. Many tours include hotel pickup and transfers from Chiang Rai hotels.
When to get there
Most boat tours set out in the morning and take around three to four hours to reach Thathon, with stops along the way. Traveling in the morning is most pleasant, when the weather is cooler and less humid. Alternatively, charter a boat for a short evening cruise and watch the sunset on-board.
Day Trips from Chiang Rai
As Thailand’s northernmost city, Chiang Rai is well placed for exploring the wild landscapes and ethnic minority villages of northern Thailand. Popular day trips include the Golden Triangle, the highland region between the borders of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand, where highlights include Chiang Saen village, the Opium Museum, and the meeting point of the three countries. Other options are trekking to villages belonging to the Akha, Hmong, Lisu, and Karen people; a cruise along the Mekong River; or a visit to Singha Park, where you can take part in activities such as ziplining, hiking, and tea plantation tours.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are the nearest attractions to Mae Kok River?
What else should I know about attractions in Chiang Rai?
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