Chiang Rai is one of the Thailand’s most romantic cities to visit. A reality show, The Bachelor 2013, had filmed the finale here. Sean Lowe, the Bachelor 2013 said about Chiang Rai, the following. “Chiang Rai is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. It’s really an amazing place and I really built a lifetime of memories in those few days.”
Ok, we might get too obsessed with the Bachelor 2013, but it doesn’t mean that the romantic trips only exist in TV programs. This article is recommendations to take you through Chiang Rai, the first capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom, highlighting must-see activities, as well as some exciting hidden treasures not featured in most ads and travel guides.
There are plenty of hotels in Chiang Rai. However, considering price, location, hotel hospitality, food and what we normally call “value for money”, Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort is standing in front of the line for the most romantic stay in the Chiang Rai city. It is one of the latest additions to the stable of stylish, luxe hideaways and features everything you expect from the chain.
The hotel, situated along the Mae Kok River, is just 10 minutes away from Chiang Rai International Airport and less than five minutes from town.
As you walk up the steps to the spacious, open lobby, the painting on the ceiling of the entrance welcomes you to a world that’s away from your ordinary life. From the lobby terrace, two magnificent rain-trees catch the eye: the bigger one shading the wooden deck near the infinity swimming pool, the smaller one standing at the corner of the courtyard. One drawback of Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort is that Wi-Fi access from your room is not free. The access will cost approximately 500 baht a day.
It is considered “romantic” as it is one of the few places where you might just see Thai people hugging and kissing in public. Okay, it might not be as romantic as you might expect, but it is a good place to get away from crowds and enjoy a quiet afternoon. As there is nothing much to see there, you might get bored after staying there a couple of hours.
There is one occasion that Chiang Rai Beach becomes the hottest place. That is during the Loi Krathong festival (เทศกาลลอยกระทง). Loy Krathong is one of Thailand’s most colorful festivals; celebrated every year on the night of the full moon in November. A krathong is a floral float usually the size of a dinner plate, on rivers or lake. Chiang Rai beach is the only a place in Chiang Rai where people can actually go into the river bank and do “Loi Krathong” with a big crowd.
If you’re the kind of traveler who enjoys planning visits around festivals and events, Thailand’s Loi Krathong festival should not be missed. Known by many as the festival of lights, this festival symbolizes good fortune for the year to come. The climax of the celebration is the lighting of a different kind of float—the hot-air lanterns called “Krong Fai” that float up through the night sky by the thousands.
For some reasons, the barley farm was not a success, however the farm became popular for jujube fruit, star fruit and tea instead. The farm itself becomes one of the largest producer of oolong tea. Also today it cultivates other crops that thrive in the cold weather, like apple and strawberry.
About 90 kms from Chiang Rai city center or 60 kms further down from the White Temple, there is little known Doi Chaang (ดอยช้าง), home to the Chiang Rai Highland Agricultural Research Centre and known throughout Thailand for quality Arabica coffee, called Doi Chaang coffee. Surprisingly, Doi Chaang Coffee is better known than its home. Doi Chaang is located in Mae Suai district about 1,700 meters above sea level, the coffee plantations, about 20,000 rai of them, stretch out over several villages.
Couples can renew their vows while watching the sun set over Doi Chang village below or cuddle up in a tent on Doi Kad Phi (ดอยกาดผี) then greet the sun as it rises slowly over the mountains and hovers over a sea of mist. Doi Kad Phi is little known for tourists but quite popular for the locals as the spot where local tourists can camp in tents and wait for the sunrise.
It is believed that these Thai hill tribes migrated from parts of China to the thick forests and mountains of Chiang Rai centuries ago. Typical trek itineraries visit Akha, Karen, Lisu and Lahu tribe villages. The Akha Hill House is a particular favorite trekking group, beloved for its affordability and friendly staff.
If you want to learn more about Chiang Rai’s fascinating hill tribes, the best way to do it is to immerse yourself in their culture. One good spot for a romantic rendezvous is Ban Lorcha (บ้านหล่อชา) in Mae Chan district, home to 64 Akha families and which has been receiving visitors since 2001. Supported by the Population and Community Development Association (สมาคมพัฒนาประชากรและชุมชน), it offers a fascinating a 1.2-kilometre walking tour of the village, which is led by local guides who explain their culture, beliefs and lifestyle.
Many of the residents are descendants of the anti-communist Kuomintang (KMT) forces who were granted citizenship in return for policing the area against communist infiltration. Their history can be traced at The Chinese Martyr’s Memorial Museum.
Chiang Khong is the city where you can truly relax without doing and worrying about anything! It is the city that will make you king of the world. If you want to find a place to finish your 3-inch book, Chiang Khong is perfect. If you want to get away from the cynical world, Chiang Khong will give you a warm stay.
The word ‘Phu’ in Thai means mountain or hill, and ‘Chi’ stands for ‘point” while ‘Fa’ means sky. Thus Phu Chi Fah means the mountain with a peak pointing to the sky. There the visitors can enjoy immaculate vistas of nature. The geographical distinctiveness of Phu Chi Fa makes it the most immaculate destination in Chiang Rai to enjoy the beauty of the rising sun. On the mountain top, the highest flat terrain is a huge grassy plain that expands up to the Laotian border.
After spending the day trekking through the jungle, relaxing in a park or floating down the Mekong, or trekking to the top of Phu Chi Fah, back to the city, Chiang Rai’s night bazaar is the perfect place to take an evening stroll. It is located on Phaholyothin Road, inside the city. There you can shop for souvenirs before heading back home.