Wat Rong Khun © Stefan Fussan
Nestled into the lush mountains of northernmost Thailand, Chiang Rai is a hotspot for travellers who want to get a real cultural experience from their stay in Thailand. The region is home to the remote hill tribe communities that make up about 10 percent of Thailand's population. Scattered through the mountains and valleys of the province, the tribes are descendents of nomadic peoples from Tibet and southern China. Each tribe is unique, with its own colourful culture and traditions. Many travellers arrive in Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai (a three-hour bus journey) to begin their treks to hill tribe villages, but there is plenty to see and do in Chiang Rai itself including many beautiful temples and interesting museums. Visitors will also find good restaurants and food stalls offering a taste of northern Thai cuisine. The city has a lively, if not endless, nightlife, with a few good bars and pubs hosting live music. Chiang Rai is situated near the coming together of the three modern nations of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, a region known as the Golden Triangle, which is dissected by the mighty Mekong River.
Transport: Chiang Rai is 3-4 hours by bus from Chiang Mai