With a population of less than 100,000, Chiang Rai offers an intimacy that cannot be found in a large city. Lying at the heart of the infamous Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Burma and Laos converge in what was once the world’s largest opium-producing region, there’s still plenty of mystique here. Thick, cool forests, majestic waterfalls, elephant camps, and some of the most diverse hill-tribe villages in the world are located just a short distance outside the city. Hot springs await you where you can soak your cares away.
Chiang Rai has largely escaped the breakneck pace of ‘development at any cost’ so prevalent in much of Southeast Asia. Beautiful Lanna-style teakwood homes, tucked away behind vast arrays of flowering fauna, grace the quiet streets that make up most of the city. Rental prices are extremely low, and you get a lot of house for your money. Although there are internationally accredited hospitals here, and some large shopping complexes just minutes from the city center, a small town ambiance prevails.