After staying for almost a month in Luang Prabang, I was sad to be leaving this town, but at the same time excited by the prospect of heading into Northern Thailand. The downside was that we knew the journey would be long, and horrible over land.
After a long overland trip from Luang Prabang to Huay Xai (Laos Border), we crossed the Mekong river to reach Chiang Kong (Thailand border). From there, we decided to go directly to Chiang Rai and stay there for two days before we headed to Chiang Mai.
Huay Xai (Laos Border)
Chiang Kong (Thailand Border)
Chiang Rai Train Library
Chiang Rai Clock Tower
Some facts about Chiang Mai from Wikipedia:
“Chiang Mai sometimes written as “Chiengmai” or “Chiangmai”, is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand, and is the capital of Chiang Mai Province. It is located 700 km (435 mi) north of Bangkok, among the highest mountains in the country. The city is on the Ping river, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya river.
Wat Chedi Luang
In recent years, Chiang Mai has become an increasingly modern city and has been attracting over 5 million visitors each year, of which between 1.4 million and 2 million are foreign tourists (depending on the year). Chiang Mai gained prominence in the political sphere in May 2006, when the Chiang Mai Initiative was concluded here between the ASEAN nations and the “+3” countries (China, Japan, and South Korea). Chiang Mai is one of three Thai cities contending to host the World Expo 2020. It has also recently positioned itself to become a Creative City and is considering to apply for Creative City Status with UNESCO.
Chiang Mai’s historic importance is derived from its strategic location on the Ping river and major trading routes. The city has long been a major center for handcrafted goods, umbrellas, jewelry (particularly silver) and woodcarving.
While officially the city (thesaban nakhon) of Chiang Mai only covers most parts of the Mueang Chiang Mai district with a population of 160,000, the urban sprawl of the city now extends into several neighboring districts. This Chiang Mai Metropolitan Area has a population of nearly one million people, more than half the total of Chiang Mai Province.
The city is subdivided into four wards (khwaeng): Nakhon Ping, Srivijaya, Mengrai, and Kawila. The first three are on the west bank of the Ping River, and Kawila is located on the east bank. Nakhon Ping district comprises the north side of the city. Srivijaya, Mengrai, and Kawila consist of the west, south, and east respectively. The city center—within the city walls—is mostly with Srivijaya ward.”