Chiang Rai is in the farthest reaches of northern Thailand and, as a province, is one of the most ethnically diverse thanks to the number of hill tribes that call it home. The city has a laidback small town charm making it a delightful place to be and is the gateway to a plethora of outdoor activities in an area abundant in a beautiful scene of rice terraces, tea plantations and flower-blanketed hills back by towering peaks.
Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Rong Khun offer vastly different temple experiences. Wat Phra Kaew is the city’s most revered temple and displays aspects of the Lanna architectural style. It was also the original home of the revered Emerald Buddha that now resides in Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew. Wat Rong Khun is the eccentric, contemporary creation of Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, who designed and funded it himself. Completely white and incorporating mirrored pieces to make it sparkle; this is Thailand’s most unique temple.
Trekking is one of the main reasons to visit Chiang Rai thanks to its location in the northern Thai highlands and the abundance of ethnic minority villages in the area. Trekking can range from flat, gentle hikes along the river to full on climbs up the mountains that grew up along the Burmese border and can last from just one day, an overnight in a hilltribe village to a full on week or more. There are also settlements, such as Ban Lorcha, an Akha tribe village, which are run as sustainable tourism projects that can be a lot more beneficial to the community.
The Golden Triangle is the name given to the area where Thailand, Burma and Laos meet at the confluence of the Mekong and Ruak Rivers. Once the world’s largest opium producer, today the area is a lot more visitor-friendly with opportunities to trek through the alpine-esque countryside, meet a diverse mix of ethnic minorities and explore what remains of what was once a stronghold of the Lanna Kingdom. Discover more the Golden Triangle’s infamous past at two fascinating opium museums or take a boat trip on the might Mekong. Founded by soldiers fleeing the Communist regime in China, the village of Mae Salong (or Santikhiri) is a tiny pocket of Yunnan in Thailand and worth a visit.
Chic and stylish, Le Méridien promises an enchanting stay for any traveller or adventurer. The spacious and elegant rooms have a contemporary design and private balconies. Soothing treatments may be arranged at Parvati Spa or you can take a relaxing swim in the outdoor pool.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.