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Chiang Rai History

Legend has it that Chiang Rai was founded by King Mengrai. He later relocated to rule Chiang Mai, and subsequently, was succeeded by his son Phaya Chai Songkhram, the next ruler of Chiang Rai – a Chiang Mai vassal. Three hundred years ago Chiang Rai was a ghost town since the war refugees either fleed to other towns or were forcibly displaced to the south. In 1910, under the reign of the King Rama V the Great, Chiang Rai’s status was elevated from a vassal town to Mueang Chiang Rai – to be part of an administrative circle used at that time called Monthon. Chiang Saen, Fang, and Phayao were administratively under it. Eventually, Mueang Chiang Rai became a province.

The northern most province of Thailand, Chiang Rai is situated on the Kok River basin. With an area of some 11,678 square kilometers. Mostly mountainous, it reaches the Mae Khong River to the north and borders on both the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The province is rich in tourism resources in term of natural attractions and antiquities, evidence of its past civilisation. It is also home to several hilltribes who follow fascinating ways of life. Chiang Rai is also a tourism gateway into the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.


Chiang Rai is administratively divided into 18 districts; namely, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Amphoe Chiang Khong, Amphoe Chiang Rung, Amphoe Chiang Saen, Amphoe Doi Luang, Amphoe Khun Tan, Amphoe Mae Chan, Amphoe Mae Fa Luang, Amphoe Mae Lao, Amphoe Mae Sai , Amphoe Mae Suai, Amphoe Pa Daet, Amphoe Phan, Amphoe Phaya Mengrai, Amphoe Thoeng, Amphoe Wiang Chiang Rung, Amphoe Wiang Chai, Amphoe Wiang Kaen and Amphoe Wiang Pa Pao.


NorthRepublic of the Union of Myanmar.
EastThe Lao People’s Democratic Republic of Lao PDR.
WestChiang Mai

How to get here

By Car

Visitors can travel in a loop. From Amphoe In Buri of Sing Buri Province, take Highway No. 11 passing Tak Fa – Wang Thong – Phitsanulok – Uttaradit – Den Chai – Phrae – Rong Kwang. Turn left onto Highway No. 103 towards Amphoe Ngao. Take a right turn onto Highway No. 1 that leads through Phayao to Chiang Rai Province. The total distance is 785 kilometers.

By Bus

The Transport Company Limited provides daily services of air-conditioned and regular coaches, leaving the Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal (Chatuchak) on Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road. For more information contact Tel. 0 2936 2842-66 , 0 2793 8111, 1490 Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 2 Tel. 0 5377 3989

Coaches offered by private companies.

Nakhon Chai AirTel. 1624
Siam First TourTel. 0 2954 3601-7, 0 5370 0092 , 0 5379 1227
Cherd Chai TourTel. 0 2936 0199

By Train

The State Railway of Thailand operates daily services from Hua Lamphong Railway station, Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Then catch a local bus further from Arcade Bus terminal, Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. For information contact Tel. 1690

By Air

There are many direct flights from Bangkok to Chiang Rai every day by;

Thai Air AsiaTel. 0 2515 9999
Thai AirwaysTel. 0 2356 1111
Thai SmileTel. 0 2118 8888
Nok AirTel. 1318
Bangkok AirwaysTel. 1771, 0 2270 6699

Transportation within Chiang Rai and to other provinces

Local Transportation 

The Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1 near the Night Bazaar offers bus services to other districts of Chiang Rai and neighbouring provinces. Contact the Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1, Tel. 0 5371 5952.

For flight passengers, the Mae Fa Luang Chiang Rai International Airport taxi service goes to the city and other places within the province.  Taxi charges are by distance. Contact the Chiang Rai Airport Cooperative Limited from 08.00 a.m. – 09.00 p.m., Tel. 0 5379 8223.

Transportation to other provinces

The Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 2 offers bus services to Chiang Mai, Phayao, Phrae, Lampang Mae Sot, Uttaradit, Phitsanulok, Pattaya, Rayong, Nakhon Ratchasima, Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, Loei, Udon Thani and Khon Kaen, Contact the Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 2, Tel. 0 5377 3989.

Song Thaeo runs between Bus Terminal 1 and 2 charged at 10 Baht

Distances from Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai to neighboring districts

Chiang Khong114Kilometers
Chiang Saen60Kilometers
Doi Luang57Kilometers
Khun Tan60Kilometers
Phaya Mengrai48Kilometers
Mae Chan29Kilometers
Mae Fa Luang65Kilometers
Mae Lao15Kilometers
Mae Sai61Kilometers
Mae Suai52Kilometers
Pa Daet52Kilometers
Wiang Chai12Kilometers
Wiang Chiang Rung24Kilometers
Wiang Kaen127Kilometers
Wiang Pa Pao91Kilometers

Distances from Chiang Rai to Nearby Provinces

Chiang Mai182Kilometers

Chiang Rai Immigration: 3 Checkpoints

  1. Chiang Saen Checkpoint (ด่านอำเภอเชียงแสน) is located in the pier area, in front of the Chiang Saen District Office, directly opposite the Ton Pheung Checkpoint in Bokeo Province of Lao PDR. The distance is 60 kilometers from the provincial city of Chiang Rai. Visitors can travel by boat along the Mekong River to Xishuangbanna, Yunnan Province. For more information, contact the Chiang Saen Checkpoint, 0 5377 7118
  2. Chiang Khong Checkpoint (ด่านอำเภอเชียงของ) is located at Buck Pier, opposite Huay Xai, Bokeo Province of Lao PDR, 114 kilometers from the provincial city of Chiang Rai. This area is also accessible to Luang Phrabang and Vientiane of Lao PDR. by boat along the Mekong River. Travellers can go back to Thailand via Nong Khai province by a 6-hours speed boat, which is available from 09.00 – 09.30 a.m. 7 seats, 1,800 Baht/ person. Slow boats take 2 days and 1 night departing at 10.30 a.m., 1,200 Baht/ person (accommodation excluded). For more details, contact the Chiang Khong Checkpoint Tel. 0 5379 1332.
  3. Mae Sai Checkpoint (ด่านอำเภอแม่สาย) is opposite Tachileik Checkpoint of the Union of Myanmar, 60 kilometers from the provincial city of Chiang Rai. It takes about 1 hour from Chiang Rai. The checkpoint situated at the foot of the Thailand – Myanmar Friendship Bridge is also a border market.  From this point, travellers can drive to Chiang Tung by car, Tel. 0 5373 1008 and Amphoe Mae Sai Tel. 0 5373 1396

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