We spent the Valentines Day weekend over in Chiang Rai. It was a last minute trip so we didn’t have any itinerary planned until we actually got there. Things didn’t look too good when we got there, because all the car rentals were out of vehicles and we were left on our own to roam about without any mode of transport.
Being the determined person that she is, we knocked on every travel agent’s door and eventually managed to find an old 1.2 litre Suzuki Swift that the owners were willing to lend to us for about $50 a day. It was better than nothing so we rented it for the next few days.
Our first stop for the evening was to visit the International Balloon Fiesta 2016 held at the Singha Park. Long queues and large crowds were expected, so we were stuck queuing for a while and unfortunately when we got there, I noticed that some of the balloons were already packing up.
We didn’t get to go up the balloons but nonetheless, we enjoyed the concert together with the numerous food booths lined up on both rows of the park and also other festivities.
The next day, we explored the city. Local cuisine were exotic and since our stomachs weren’t feeling very adventurous, the only interesting dish we had was the crocodile, and as cliche as it may sound, it really does taste like chicken.
I do know the kind of crowd that this menu appeals to, though. While walking back to our car, I noticed several Chinese-plate vehicles parked, presumably a part of a larger tour group.
Because of its geographical location, Chiang Rai often sees Chinese tourists coming down from Yun Nan through Laos. We experienced the same in Chiang Mai, so it’s quite a common sight to see street signs in both Thai and Chinese.
Our accommodation for the night was at Katiliya Mountain Resort. As the name suggests, it is located halfway up the mountain and adjacent to another resort named Phu Chaisai.
No pictures of our room, but it was huge. The balcony faces the mountains so the sun rises up straight on your face. I loved the toilet though (it was bigger than my own bedroom), 2 faucets so you never have to share, also a long bath tub, and a normal shower with the necessary amenities.
We tried to make a massage booking at our resort, unfortunately it was full. Hence, we decided to pay Phu Chaisai a visit. The massage was expensive. It was close to $90 for the both of us, and we decided to make full use of our entrance by touring around the resort.
Phu Chaisai’s infinity pool was really infinite at nature’s finest, because if you went over the edges, you would disappear into the mountains and never to be found again. I am quite certain about the latter because Chiang Rai is a small city with hardly any emergency services available.
One place definitely worth visiting in Chiang Rai would be Choui Fong Tea Plantation. It was so good we went back twice.
Entrance is free and you get to stay for as long as the plantation is open. They have their own cafe and restaurant so you get to try out their different varieties of tea. There was also a small retail shop where I spent close to $120 just buying different kinds of teas for friends and relatives. I personally liked the oolong tea (they have 3 different types so you might want to try them all) and also I’ve heard that their lemongrass tea is nice as well.
I wouldn’t recommend tearing away their tea leaves, but you’re free to walk around the plantation which is still a good thing as long as it’s not destroyed by Chinese tourists yet. The hat is available for rent at only 80 cents and used mostly for phototaking purposes.
Would I visit Chiang Rai again? Probably.
A 3-4 day trip with my family would be nice.