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Chiang Rai

As a regional capital, Chiang Rai gives its name to the entire province, and travelers come here for rustic getaways, jungle trekking, and a chance to engage the dozen hill-tribe cultures that have settled here. Legend states that Thailand's famous Emerald Buddha was discovered here, and while its temple remains, the prized artifact has been moved to Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaew.

Visitors typically spend a night or two in the city center, or Amphoe Muang Chiang Rai, before heading out into the backcountry. With the borders of Myanmar and Laos just over the horizon, there is plenty of culture to explore. The three countries meet at the Golden Triangle, a once lawless land that has replaced opium cultivation with the safer and more reliable tourist trade. Attractions here include the Hall of Opium, Burmese-styled temples, and excellent hill-tribe trekking opportunities.

Chiang Rai’s peak season is in December and January, a time that attracts many domestic travelers to enjoy the cooler temperatures the region offers. The city’s best hotels are located along the Kok River or near the centrally located night bazaar, and they provide excellent assistance in arranging the activities you would like to partake in.

Be sure to check out the interactive map of Chiang Rai for information on hotel locations, attractions, and must-see destinations.