Chiang Rai is the capital of Thailand's most northerly province and gateway to the infamous Golden Triangle, the meeting point of Laos, Thailand and Burma. What was once a lawless smuggling frontier is now a hub for trekking and rafting trips down the mighty Mekong River.
The city's most famous landmark is Wat Phra Kaeo. Local legend has it that Thailand's revered emerald Buddha, now resident in Bangkok's Temple of the Emerald Buddha, was discovered here after the stupa was struck by lightning in 1434.
Nearby Chiang Saen is a charming one-street market town with impressive town ramparts close to the border.