Charm of Chiang Rai, Thailand


white templeFor our first visit to Chiang Rai, I searched on for a place with a pool. I found the Mantrini, which was recently featured in the magazine, Chiva and shared the Chiang Rai Charm of the property. While we stayed there, we enjoyed being next door to Centre Plaza and seeing a brand new film in the state of the art theater. The room was comfortable and well appointed with a cozy bed and pretty pink pillows. The bathroom had a sunken tub with a powerful shower and many signs about how to care for the environment. I liked the art in our room and throughout the hallways. Breakfast was a vast buffet and included any type of eggs and many Thai specialties.

mantrini lobbyOn our second night, an anniversary party filled the pool area and we were treated to the wonderful party music during the early evening. It was like we were part of the festivities. The staff was welcoming, knowledgeable and assisted us with our onward travel plans. They helped us find the local bus to visit the White Temple or Wat Rong Khun. This mirror laden Buddhist temple was built in 1997 and designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat. It is still under construction as more sections are being added and the paining of the inner sanctuary is on going. I did like the art, which included designs of superman, star wars and the matrix. We did not visit the Black House we will have to see it on our next visit.

While in Chiang Rai, I highly recommend a visit to the clocktower! At 8pm and 9pm, there is a color and light show. You can see it in our video. George says, “It is the best clock tower in the whole world!” I really enjoyed the spectacle and the night market. My favorite café is Destiny located only half a block from the clock tower.

Visiting many of the Wats around town was interesting and I was surprised how different each one is from the next. Both George and I liked Wat Phra Kaew the best of all that we visited. The Phra Yok Chianrai (Jade Buddha) is housed there and made from Canadian jade. There is a new hall under construction. I also like Wat Mung Muang and the Phra Sang Kad Jai who is one of the Buddhist saints in the courtyard.

I can highly recommend the Hill Tribe Museum. We watched the informative video and learned about the many different peoples of Thailand. It was sad to learn about the Karen Tribe who are called Long Neck due to their golden bangles that stretch their necks. They are not Thai but Burmese refugees and the Hill Tribe museum and tour company located there say repeatedly do not visit a human zoo. The refugees are not being treated properly and many do have their papers withheld by the “landlords” of the village where they are nearly held captive.

We also enjoyed a visit to Chiang Saen, Mai Sai and the Burmese border. After our stay in Chiang Rai, we were off to Chiang Mai for music on the riverside and wandering inside the Old City Walls. Wherever you choose to visit in Thailand, I am certain you will enjoy tasty treats and meet lovely new friends. Let us know what special places you find, maybe we will go there on our next visit!

Author’s Note: We thank AsiaRooms and the Mantrini for our visit! The opinions are our own and we really enjoyed Chiang Rai and the hotel!

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

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