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If you have your own transportation, and you like to experience a little bit of the ethnic minority culture and nature on your own as a day trip, you can head to Huai Mae Sai village about 20km NW of Chiang Rai city.
Get onto Route 1207, follow the signs to Ban Huai Mae Sai (Ban means village in Thai). You'll pass by Yao, Akha and Lahu villages along the route. The first two villages are quite developed, while the last village, Ban Jalae, still maintains their traditional stilt houses that have thatched grass roof and split bamboo floors and walls. There is a museum in the village that was built by the villagers and a local NGO, with collections of artifacts that were given by local villagers. There is a small charge for the museum (10 or 20 B), and donations are accepted. See the web link below for more info.
There is a shop that sells drinks and traditional weaving (such as bags and bracelets) directly across the museum. Life is difficult and there are many social and cultural problems that are faced by many of the ethnic minority groups. Consider make some purchases to contribute to the local economy. But do NOT give money to kids. This encourages begging.
There is a sign that says turn left for the waterfalls. Follow this, BUT do not go up the steep hill! There is a path on the right before that steep hill. Take that path and continue on until you reach the parking lot. The lower waterfall is about 10-15 minute walk, up and down with some stairs. There is an upper fall also about 10 minute walk up. But I didn't go there as I was tired.
A fact about the waterfalls and Ban Jalae: The village was actually originally located above the waterfalls. But the government moved the whole village to the present site without any compensation because the village was too close to the waterfalls and were polluting it.
Written May 31, 2007
Mae Sai is about 2 hours from Chiang Rai city. It is the northern-most point in Thailand. The town of Tachileik in Myanmar (Burma) is just north of the border. The things in Mae Sai are cheaper than in CR, mostly made in China goods that came from China via Myanmar (Burma). You can find all kinds of goods available here, from pirated VCDs, clothing, shoes, Chinese snacks and dried food. Most vendors here can speak Mandarin. There is a sprawling market within walking distance from the border gate.
You can get a day visa into Burma, but you can't go beyond Tachileik. There is really nothing much to see there, other than more Chinese goods at even cheaper price. Tachileik is one of the popular visa run border towns. But the border can be closed at times with the unstable relationship between Burma and Thailand.
There are many buses that go to Mae Sai from Chiang Rai city, roughly once or twice every hour. Be sure to bring your passport with you as there is a police check point along the highway. You need to transfer to a songtaew from the Mae Sai bus station to town. You can get off near the border (the three storey building/gate in the photo).
Updated Mar 27, 2007
Khun Korn Waterfall , is at the end of a 30 minute trek through a majestic forest. A gorgeous and peacefull setting with many mountains surrounding the park. It is about 30 minutes from central of Chiangrai.. Khun Korn Waterfall is the tallest fall in Chiangrai,70 metres tall.
Written Jul 9, 2006
Rice is a main food in Thailand, so no wonder they grow it here, too.
The difference to other countries that also grow rice is, that you won´t see many terraces, because the area is flatter.
The land around Chiang Rai is one of thailands main Rice growing grounds. Don´t hast ethrough this or you will miss an important part of Thailands culture.
Rice can be grown twice in a year. It takes a lot of water. When they have taken the fruit, they let the water out, so the rest of the plant gets dry.
They use this to feed the animals (and the dung of the animals is the fertilizer for next time).
Written Mar 6, 2006
It's well worth taking a boat trip down the Meh Kok river.
It's only a day long and costs in the region of 600 baht (10 English pounds) but you get to go elephant trekking around a hill tribe (although one that is well used to tourism) and take a dip in the hot springs. On the way back if its in the early evening the chances are that you'll get to see a fantastic sun set.
It really is a journey well worth taking.
Written Nov 6, 2003
Don't forget to visit one Temple and take time to walk around and see the young monks doing their activities like pray, play the bells, etc.. they transmit peace and calm.
Written Jul 20, 2003
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