Highlights of Chiang Rai
As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life – Buddha
After a long flight from Amsterdam to Bangkok, it was time to board the plane to Chiang Rai. I have always loved the feeling you get the minute you get off the plane. Because you know you’ll be in a completely different world. Chiang Rai is more down to earth, and I think the people are even nicer. Thailand is known as the land of smiles, and you’ll feel welcome the minute you walk into the airport.
We started our first day slow, a little jetlagged (is it just me or am I the only person that never sleeps on a plane?). It was time to unpack, do some shopping and explore the neighborhood. I have never been the person who can just enjoy the pool on the first day. Or the second. Wanderlust all over the place.
We walked through rubber plantations, fields filled with fresh pineapples and had the best views looking over the Choui Fong tea plantations.
The border of Thailand and Myanmar
The following days we drove through surreal places. Visited beautiful rice terraces, had gorgeous views from the mountains, visited local markets, Doi Tung (Amphoe Mae Sai), Mae Sai and The Golden Triangle. Coming from Europe makes is even more special to see people from Hill Tribes wearing their traditional clothes, and living in the most beautiful and peaceful places. Wishing life could be this simple. And a thing I will never forget is when we left the Thai border and drove through these parts of the mountain. This place had magical views and made me feel like we were in no man’s land. I just never wanted to leave.
Akha Hill Tribe
Visiting an ancient tribe had been on my bucket list for ages. The Akha are an indigenous tribe who live at higher elevations in the mountains, in small villages. Originally coming from China, they moved to Myanmar and Laos. A civil war in Burma and Laos increased the flow of Akha coming to the northern provinces of Thailand. While they remain their own culture they are slowly adjusting to the modern days. Which means they do build houses, but the majority still lives in wooden huts beside dirt roads.
Walking through one of these villages made me feel privileged. There are a few Hill Tribes who allow tour operators to come to have a look. This tribe isn’t one of them. Which made it even more special, and it was so much fun learning and understanding more of their way of life, and connecting to the kids. These faces, I will never forget.
Doi Mae Salong – Chinese district
There are more Chinese influences in Chiang Rai than meets the eye. I truly find the Chinese culture beautiful, so I didn’t mind peaking around. This district has beautiful architecture, great restaurants and even the markets are fun to visit.
Asia is also known for its famous elephant rides and rice fields and terraces. And while riding through these fields on the back of an elephant is a dream for a lot of tourists, I truly wish these rides where banned. These beautiful and smart creatures deserve to live their lives to the fullest and in freedom. Seeing the sadness in their eyes made my own eyes water. I’m just one of those enthusiasts who want to save the planet and every beautiful living thing on it.
While we were on our way to Chiang Mai we made a quick stop at the White Temple; Wat Rong Khun. This temple is a piece of modern art, flooded with tourists. And I just couldn’t believe we were already wrapping up our time in Chiang Rai. But when adventure awaits, you just keep on going and going right?
Have you been to Chiang Rai?