While planning for our Chiang Mai trip, my friend J was unexpectedly enthusiastic about spending a day in Chiang Rai, a neighboring province of Chiang Mai located in the northernmost part of Thailand. I wasn't so excited because I was never a fan of long land trips, but for the sake of friendship, I booked us a Chiang Rai tour for one whole day.
We were picked up by our tour guide from our guesthouse early in the morning. It was too early that we asked if we could buy take out breakfast from McDonald's so we could eat something during the trip.
Hot Springs in Chiang Rai
After a two-hour trip, we arrived on our first stop, the Hot Springs at Chiang Rai. The place was nothing special, with souvenir stores and snack shops in front.
I tried to dip my feet to the water, but it was scalding hot. I wonder how the other visitors did it.
We just walked around and got myself an Iced Coffee for 55 Baht (Php 75).
Great morning, indeed. :)
Wat Rong Khun or White Temple
The main reason why we booked this tour was to see Wat Rong Khun or the White Temple. Compared to the temples we have visited in Bangkok, the White Temple is only around 20 years old.
Unfortunately, there are areas in the temple that was off-limits to visitors. However, it didn't stop us from appreciating its marvelous architecture.
|the mandatory turista shot at the White Temple|
Buffet Lunch at The Golden Triangle
We had our lunch at Golden Iyara Resort near The Golden Triangle.
The food wasn't that impressive, but I really enjoyed the unlimited coffee and noodle-making demo. :)
Boat Ride at The Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is a mountainous area that borders three countries: Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. It used to be one of the most extensive opium-producing areas in the world. It is now more popular as a tourist destination.
After we submitted our passports to the Thai immigration, we set off for a boat ride at the Mekong River.
It was fantastic to be seeing three countries at the same time. Our guide even pointed out the "no man's land", which used to be the market for selling opium.
|the no-man's island|
A Quick Visit to Laos
Our boat ride includes a short visit to Done Sao, Laos.
Done Sao is actually a small island where visitors can enter without having a visa. We just needed to pay 30 Baht (Php 40) for taxes.
There were stores that sell shirts, souvenirs, and alcohol. While I was happy buying one shirt, my friend Jeo tried the gin with a cobra submerged on it. He turned red after drinking a shot. It was that strong.
Yes, I can proudly say I have been to Laos, sadly without the stamp on my passport. :\
After our quick visit to Laos, we drove up north to Maesai, the Northern Most part of Thailand.
|with Kelvin, our new-found friend from Vietnam|
|Myanmar from afar|
The area is also the border to Myanmar, too bad we weren't allowed to cross the border without paying 500 Baht. :\
Long Neck Karen Tribe
The last stop is quite intriguing: the Long Neck Karen Tribe Village.
These people are refugees in Thailand, so they aren't allowed to go out of the country without permission from the government.
The tribe is living in small huts located behind the shops.
Only the women in the tribe are required to wear the rings around the neck and their knees. More rings are added as the woman ages, hence the longer neck for the older women.
We were made to carry the rings to find out how heavy the rings were, and damn, it was so heavy. I assume the rings in the neck must around 3 to 5 kilos.
|Oh, there are also Big Ears Karen women|
I admire how happy and welcoming the women were, and even though we didn't buy anything from their shops, they gamely posed for the cameras. We did give them tips for each photo op.
Though the entire day was exhausting given the length of the trip to and from Chiang Mai, it was still a fun experience. It opened me to those places that were still untouched with the fast-paced technology-laden life. Should you visit Chiang Mai, take a day trip to Chiang Rai and see for yourself. :)
Note: We booked the tour via our guesthouse for 1530 Baht (Php 2080) per person.