About three hours north from Chiang Mai, is the city of Chiang Rai. Too lazy to figure out my own transportation and travel logistics, I decided to take a day tour to the city instead. I paid 1000 baht for my tour, but found out some people on the same tour as me paid as much as 1700 baht! So make sure to shop around.
I’m not usually one for organized tours, but actually thought this tour was well worth it. It picked each guest from their own hotel (luckily I was one of the last ones to be picked up and first to be dropped off!) and drove us to four different sites and provided us with lunch. It was a full day of activities.
Our first stop was a hot spring beside the highway. It wasn’t particularly memorable or interesting, just a site full of tourists. They had a stream running through the area, which you can put your feet in and enjoy the hot springs. But seeing the amount of people washing their feet in it, I decided I wanted nothing to do with it.
Wat Rong Khun (a.k.a The White Temple)
Next up was the White Temple, the main attraction for this tour. Designed by a famous Thai visual artists, it was extremely intricate and beautiful. Unfortunately, it was hard to enjoy it. With bus loads of people continuously arriving on site and security constantly talking in microphones to tell visitors to keep moving, it lost a lot of its charm.
Karen Long Neck Village
I was fairly excited to visit the Karen Long Neck Village and experience their long-standing tradition of putting brass rings to elongate their necks. However, after learning about their story, it made me very uncomfortable to have participated in the visit.
Our tour guide informed us that most people from these hill tribes are actually refugees from Myanmar. The Thai government provides shelter, living supplies and safety for them, while they apply for visas to go elsewhere. However, because they hold such an unique ornamenting tradition, not a lot of their visas get approved…
I did meet a little girl at the village that made my day though. Despite how simple her life was, she was so genuinely content and happy to interact with me.
Myanmar Land Boarder
Our next stop was at the Myanmar land border with Thailand. It was a sign indicating Myanmar was at the opposite side of the bridge. Exhilarating!
Our last stop was at the Golden Triangle. The history of the area is quiet neat. It’s where Myanmar, Thailand and Laos all meet. In the middle of the river, where these countries come together, is an island that belongs to none of them. Without any laws, people use to trade opium with gold there, hence the name the Golden Triangle. It’s nothing more than a tourist attraction now, with a beautiful view.