A Day in Chiang Rai

As one of the northernmost cities in Thailand, Chiang Rai is often used as a base for day trips to Burma and the Golden Triangle. It’s also home to the Hill tribes, a term used to refer to several agrarian groups that migrated from China. A popular activity is to go trekking and stay at one of the local Hill tribe villager’s home. If you’ve ever seen an image of Asian women with golden rings around their long necks, that’s an example of members of the Karen Hill tribe.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
the golden triangle, where thailand, myanmar and laos meet
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
seeing the three countries converge
Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset
visiting the hill tribe museum in chiang rai

Chiang Rai itself is very small and rural, and you could probably see most of it in a day. Public transportation or taxi cabs are virtually nonexistent, so the best way to get around is to hire a driver. We used Lanna Trek, a local travel company that took us to the major sightseeing attractions in the area for about 1,500 bhat a person, or $42 USD. This also included admission to the sites as well as breakfast and lunch, so a pretty good deal, in my opinion.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
baan chivit mai bakery in chiang rai
Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset
coffee and pastries at baan chivit
Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset
a tasty ham and cheese sammie
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
homestyle stir fried chicken and vegetables
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
delicious spring rolls
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
the menu at barrab
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
can’t go a night without drinking the local chang beer
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
the hung lay curry with pork
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
khao soi noodles
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
northern style minced pork salad

We were limited to eating in the town square or at the places that our driver stopped at. As such, our food itinerary was a hodge podge of local neighborhood eateries. The night market in Chiang Rai was touted as having great street food, but to be completely honest, the platters of uncooked meat with flies on them weren’t all that appealing. There was decent grab-and-go fare and homestyle Thai cuisine at Baan Chivit, a local bakery, but the Northern Thai cuisine at Barrab, one of the highest rated restaurants on Tripadvisor, was just ok. The food in Chiang Mai in general is so much better.

Processed with VSCOcam with g2 preset
breakfast noodles
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
a local spot in chiang rai
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
food market in mae sai, thailand’s northernmost town
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
stir fried chinese vegetables. delicious.
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
our driver ordered this black chicken for us…
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
a very tender piece of braised pork
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
a bowl of seaweed soup, which was great

On our day tour with Lanna Trek, we stopped by a local food stand that made hearty bowls of beef noodle soup for only 10 baht. That probably was our cheapest meal on the trip. And the portions were very generous. It had a lot in common with pho, which I found very interesting. After driving into Mae Sai, a town initially set up by the Taiwanese and hence inhabited by many ethnic Chinese, we had a very tasty Yunnan meal at the local restaurant near the markets.

It was solid and comforting, nothing more and nothing less. Like if you were eating a decent meal made by your friend’s mom or sitting down for lunch at church. If we had a car, we probably could have ventured out further to more interesting places, but as this was not the case, we had to make do with what was nearby. And what was nearby was good enough. But Chiang Mai was even better.


For other posts on thailand, check out the following links on my blog:
Chiang Mai Street Food
Bo.lan in Bangkok

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.