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Chiang Rai’s Secret Cave Temples

5Chiang Rai Beach

Three and a half kilometres after Doi Kong Khao, the road passes through a large village and hits a T-junction. Turning right takes you to Chiang Rai, while turning left, brings you to the river again at Chiang Rai Beach, or Pattaya Noi (Little Pattaya) as it is known locally, 1.5 kilometres further along. Here there is a park with formal gardens and extensive grassy areas, popular with students who often come here of an evening.

Looking over the Maekok at sunset.
Sunset over the Kok River
from Mae Fa Luang Bridge.

Along the water’s edge, a row of grass-roofed huts are the private dining rooms of restaurants. Directly Across the river is the rocky outcrop of Doi Tham Pra. If the river is low you can go swimming at this point. In fact, during the hot dry months of March and April the water drops so far that you can walk across and it becomes a very popular picnic spot for the city’s youth.

The food is local, very spicy and reasonably priced but you’ll need a guidebook to help ordering as there are few or no English menus. There are no chairs, either. Instead customers recline on mats with triangilar pillows as back support. It can make eating a little uncomfortable if you are not flexible but it makes taking an after-dinner snooze delightfully easy. Take your time, eat slowly, sink a few beers and wait for the afternoon heat to lessen before heading back to Chiang-Rai.

To get back retrace your route in but don’t turn off. This road leads directly back to Chiang rai. You’ll pass an army camp with helicopters on your left and soon after that you come to a set of traffic lights. You can either turn left or go straight ahead. In either case, a kilometre r so later you are back in the heart of Chiang-Rai.

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