Rai province is Thailandís northernmost province situated
between north latitude 14º and east longitude 49º.
It covers an area of some 11,678 sq km making it the twelfth
largest province. The provincial capital, Chiang Rai city,
is approximately 785 km north of the nationís capital, Bangkok.
other Thai provinces, Chiang Rai is administratively divided
into Amphoes or districts and King Amphoes or sub-districts.
There are thirteen in total as follows; Muang, Chiang Kong,
Chiang Saen, Mae Chan, Mae Sai, Mae Suai, Pa Daet, Phan, Thoeng,
Wiang Pa pao, Wiang Chai, Phaya Mengrai, Wiang Kaen and three
sub-districts of Mae Fa Luang, Khun Tan and Mae Lao.
For a long
time Chiang Rai province remained isolated from the rest of
Thailand. Such isolation, however, has afforded the province
itís unique culture, as well as making it one of the countryís
most rural of areas.
Chiang Rai province is bordered
to the north by the neighbouring countries of Myanmar and
Laos. The Myanmar border is mountainous, cleaving Myanmar
from Thailand, with the Sop Ruak River converging with the
Mekong River at Thailandís peak. The border with Laos is formed
by the natural boundary that the Mekong River takes, as it
travels south before heading further inland towards the Laotian
town of Luang Prapang. To the west is Chiang Mai province,
with Lampang province to the south and Phayao province to
the south and southeast.
landscape consists of a large fertile plain, set within a
midst of crisp and scenic mountain ranges. These form into
a pan shape with elevations at approximately 580 m above sea
In 1995, the
total land area of Chiang Rai province was classified as follows:
Forest land - 33.1%
Farm land - 30.8%
Unclassified land Ė
30% of the land area is officially classed as farmland, only
about 19% is really considered suitable for cultivation Ė
and most of the cultivatable area is located along the Phaholyothin
highway, which runs through the districts of Phan, Muang and
Mae Chan and ends in Mae Sai.
Chiang Rai province is also
home to the Doi Luang National Park and the Doi Mae Salong
mountains. The most important waterway and transportation
artery is the scenic 130 km long Mae Kok River that flows
from neighbouring Chiang Mai province. The River flows through
the town of Tha Ton (180 km north of Chiang Maiís provincial
capital) and passes by several hilltribe settlements and elephant
camps, until it reaches and passes through the heart of Chiang
Rai city. Long-tailed boats make the three-hour plus journey
to Chiang Mai and because of its higher elevations, the climate
in Chiang Rai province is generally somewhat cooler when compared
to the rest of the country. However, there are still three
distinct seasons; the hot season, the rainy season and the
cool season. The mean temperature in 1997 was 24.5º C.
Throughout the winter months,
nighttime temperatures can drop considerably from the average
daytime figures. At other times during the year, day and night
temperatures do not vary significantly.
In Chiang Rai, the monsoon
or rainy season starts around May and ends in October - earlier
than in Central Thailand. Average daytime temperature is 25.5°
C. The average rainfall in Chiang Rai is considerably higher
than its neighbour, Chiang Mai province. So much so that during
the months of August and September, (when rainfall is heaviest),
many of the streets throughout the province will flood. At
most other times the rain will normally fall sporadically.
Annual rainfall (1997) - 1,645.4
Number of days rain
(1997) - 132 days
The Cool Season lasts from
late October until the end of February with temperatures ranging
from 13° C to 28° C. Average daytime temperature is
21º C, but cooler at night - especially in the hills
and mountains. The coldest months are December and January.
The Hot Season begins at the
end of March and lasts until the end of May, with temperatures
ranging between 17° C and 36° C. The hottest month
is April. Average daytime temperature is around 29.9º
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