Bars and Nightlife
Chiang Rai offers almost nothing in the way of bars and nightlife. There are only a handful of open air beer bars catering to tourists and the few Go Go bars in town tend to prefer a Thai clientele rather than falong i.e., Westerner. In short, if you're coming here expecting to find anything comparable to what you get say in Pattaya, Patong Beach Phuket or the Nana in Bangkok, you're going to be in for a big disappointment. When it comes to bar hopping and nightlife, this place sucks! Don't waste your time coming to Chiang Rai or other non touristy areas i.e., outside the red light districts unless you either have a girl you really like to take with you or sex just is not a concern while you explore around. General ATM's, banks, exchange booths, travel and tour agencies, camera shops, copy shops, drug stores, tire repair, e-mail shops, appliance and appliance repair shops, dentists, gift shops and video-rental shops are all abundant and easy to find. There are few taxis, per se, but inexpensive, shared song taow double bench people carriers are common, as are song-lors bicycle taxis and tuk-tuks. Some drivers can be summoned via their mobile phones.
The Thai girls you will meet in Chiang Rai are of a different breed than what you will find at the Go Go bars of Pattaya and Bangkok with the exception of course of the few beer bar girls in town. What's different about them?
CR girls tend to be much lighter in complexion. In other words, you'll see much more of the white skinned ladies roaming the streets than you would in tourist traps such as Pattaya or Phuket. While not everyone prefers white skinned Thais, it's a well known fact that the most beautiful women of Thailand are those with a lighter complexion at least, in the opinion of the local Thai's and Asian men in general. The girls have a very beautiful and unique look about them, somewhat of a Chinese/Thai feature. That means more of the slanted eyes and shiny silk hair, along with the rounded cute nose and baby type face. For every cute girl I've seen in South Pattaya, for example, I'd say there are 100 times as many out here. The town is a walking vineyard of extremely nice looking women! The girls in this small town tend to be unspoiled and much fresher than what you'll find in the big city i.e. Bangkok or tourist areas such as Pattaya. By contrast, what you find among the friendliness among bar girls in Pattaya, for example, you will find nearly the same among the straights i.e., non bar girls. What this means is if you're looking to get involved with a girl who is not working the bar, the chances of meeting her tend to be much greater in Chiang Rai. Thus all wife-hunters should focus their direction away from the bars of Bangkok and Pattaya and towards to baby dolls one finds in Chiang Rai. Note: in consideration, you should be aware few of the girls speak any English at all. Therefore, if you're not somewhat versed in Thai, you will find a much larger language gap than among the girls in Bangkok or Pattaya.
The price for sex out here seems pretty consistent with what you pay elsewhere i.e., Bangkok/Pattaya/Phuket. Of course, the price with any girl varies and that of beer bars and Go Go bars varies as well. Most girls who work the local beer bars and those willing to screw at the traditional massage parlors expect a tip of between 1,000-2,000 baht for either short time or all night.
You can find hotels in Chiang Rai at about any price range, from the budget "guesthouse" as low as 170 baht per night under $5 per night up to a whopping 9,000 baht per night $200+. If you want middle of the road about 600 baht to 1,000 baht per night you'll find the rooms very comfortable with all your basic needs cable TV, refrig., air con, western bath, etc.. Wherever you decide to stay you'll find most hotels both inexpensive and very comfortable. Food You can eat delicious meals for a few dollars a day.
Getting around town is very inexpensive. There are tuk tuks, blue taxis, motorbike rentals, and bicycles you can rent or buy to get around.
During the high season Nov - Feb the weather can drop as low as the 40's in which if you're not dressed properly, you will freeze your ass off. In short, if you want the coolness of the mountains and wish to avoid the humidity and heat of the city life, you will certainly find it here. Note: during the hot season, it gets hot so if you come to Chiang Rai wishing to enjoy the cool air, you're best to come between Nov and Feb. April to June gets as hot as or even hotter than in Bangkok.
January 1 New Year's Day
April 6 Chakri Day
May 1 National Labour Day Banks only
May 5 Coronation Day 1950
July 1 Mid Year Day Banks only
August 12 H.M. the Queen's Birthday also Mothers' Day
October 23 Chulalongkorn Day
December 5 H.M. the King's Birthday also Father's Day
December 10 Constitution Day
December 31 New Year's Eve
Holidays falling on a Saturday or Sunday are observed on the Monday following by banks, but not by the Government.
The festival of Loy Krathong a water festival takes place on the full moon of the 12th Thai Lunar month 11 November in 2000 and 31 October in 2001, 19 November in 2002.
Without a doubt, the most widely and wild! holiday celebration in Chiang Rai and throughout Thailand as well is the Songkrang or Water Festival. The festival takes place every year from April 12-19, moving itself from northern Thailand south, peaking out on the 19th in South Pattaya. The festival is celebrated by the throwing of water in the public streets. The entire population of Thais stop whatever it is they are doing, hop on the infamous pick-up truck by the tons, and with buckets and water pistals in hand, drench the entire country with water. If you walk the streets at this time, you will get drenched, many times over. Actually, it's a great time of the year to come out and visit Thailand. If you come at this time, come with water gun in hand and prepare to get soaked. There is no escaping it!
|Prices Check out Flights and costs HERE|
You can actually fly direct from Bangkok to Chiang Rai. Thai airways has daily flights four a day, but often the last flight gets cancelled if the plane doesn't have enough customers. It will cost about 50-60 dollars. You can get a ticket in the morning and fly out the same day. It's only a short 55 min flight, a lot faster than going by bus.
It will take over 14 hours by bus and you can catch the bus at the Ekomai Bus Station. We don't suggest you take this route. It is very uncomfortable and a waste of precious travel time.
This is the second best way to go as flying is obviously the first. You can buy your train tickets at any travel agency. There is a travel agency called JP Travel next door to the Nana Hotel on the same side of the street. It is best you buy your tickets in advance as the train fills up quite often. You may take a chance at buying your tickets at the train station but it is not guaranteed you wil be able to ride that day.
We suggest you take the the 2nd class air conditioned train to Chiang Mai there is no train going all the way to Chiang Rai. The cost will be about 610 baht $15. The train gets booked quick especially on the weekends, so don't expect to be able to get a seat on a one day notice. The train ride back is pleasant, being that with first/second class they roll out the beds for you to sleep on. Note that the lower bunkers have wider beds, so lower is to be preferred. Whatever you do, don't ride the train 3rd class. Unless, of course, you don't mind sitting on the hard floor there is no assigned seating with the chickens and the pigs, I kid you not. When you arrive in Chiang Mai you can take a bus on to Chiang Rai. This will take about 3 hours and will cost about $5.
The bus is air conditioned.
Buy two tickets, one for you and another one for you. With two tickets you can stretch out on the 3 hour bus ride back. If someone tries to sit in either seat, simply show them the two tickets. All seats are assigned. By the way, if you do take the train/bus from Bangkok, be aware it gets cold up here. As the train arrives from BK early in the morning about 6 a.m., you will freeze your tail off if you're adorned only in the Pattaya dress code of sandals, shorts and T-shirt. Hence, when coming from Nov to Feb, bring long pants and at least a sweatshirt or long sleeve shirt with another shirt underneath to ward of the early morning winter frost.
|What to Bring
Bring your girlfriend! I'm not joking. The night life in Chiang Rai basically sucks and sex is not guaranteed, even at the bars where girls often don't like going bar fine. If you found yourself a honey in Bangkok or elsewhere, bring her along with you.
Such as a sweater, jacket, long pants, long sleave shirts, etc. The weather in Chiang Rai is cold, especially at night. During the cool season Nov - Feb. it can drop as low as 40 degrees no snow up here, but it can get close. You will freeze your ass off. if you come during the cool season dressed in shorts, T-shirts and tennis shoes.
During the hot season April - June, daytime is HOT, so shorts, tennis shoes and T-shirts are what the doctored ordered. However, nighttime can get a bit chilly, so having long pants and a sweatshirt or long sleeve shirt with undershirt will usually keep you warm and cozy.
It is required as ID to check into most hotels guesthouses usually don't ask for ID. If you wish to rent a motorbike or car, you will need your passport as ID. Bring it and have a few copies on hand all the time in case you lose the orginal.
Thai baht is best. While you can exchange TC's traveller's checks, cash have fresh US $100 bills and use your ATM card, it's best to bring Thai baht. Hence, try to anticipate how much you will be spending and do your exchange in Bangkok first, especially if you are relying on ATM machines. While most ATM machines are trustworthy, they do go off line every so often, leaving you in a ditch if that's your only source of cash.
Good ones are hard to find
Most pharmacies supply the same drugs you can get in Bangkok or elsewhere in Thailand. However, if you have any special prescriptions, take them with you fully stocked. Chiang Rai is a small town, and so supplies may be limited.
Bring the phone number or fax number of the hotel you plan to return to in Bangkok. That way, you can confirm your hotel reservation on your return or change dates should you decide to come back early or later.
Bring a cell phone with you if possible. Then hand out your phone number to all the luscious virgin babes who will be dying to meet you. You can also use the phone to stay in contact with your many girlfriends in Bangkok and Pattaya who are wondering what the hell you're doing in Chiang Rai.
You must have a valid passport to enter and exit the country of Thailand. You don't need a visa if you will be staying in Thailand for less than 30 days. If you're planning on staying more than 30 days, you will need to purchase a tourist visa before entering the country. You can purchase a tourist visa at any Thai Consulate just about worldwide.
If you lose your passport abroad it can be a nightmare. To avoid getting ruining your vacation make sure you make copies of the inside of your passport, the first page where all the info on you is printed. Make 3-4 copies and stick one in your fanny pack, one in your suitcase, etc. This way if you lose the passport, you can go to the American Embassy and show the copy to them to prove you are who you say are without going through a lot of red tape and waiting. If your passport will expire in 6 months or less, it is recommended you obtain a new passport before traveling. Thailand may not let you into the country or grant you a visa if your passport will expire in less than 6 months.
A visa will not be needed. A tourist visa obtained before you enter the country will allow you to stay in the country of Thailand for 2 months 59 days. As of February 2000, a visa will cost $15. Price is subject to change. Any Thai Consulate will be happy to sell you a visa. In Los Angeles, California, call the Thailand Tourism Authority at 213 382-2353 for further information. Outside Los Angeles, call information for the nearest Thai Consulate. Important: You cannot obtain a visa in Thailand. You must purchase your visa before your departure to Thailand. Allow 2-3 working days to obtain a visa.
If you wish
to stay in Thailand more than 30 days, as explained above, you must purchase
a two-month tourist visa before your departure. Another option is to apply
for an extension of your allowed 30-day stay i.e., without a visa. It
will cost you 500 Baht $12.50 at the exchange rate of 40 Baht per dollar
for a 10-day extension, which can be obtained at any Thai Immigration
office in Thailand. If you have a visa and you wish to remain in Thailand
more than the allowed 59 days, you can extend your visa while in Thailand
for another 30 days, at the price of 500 Baht $12.50. If you wish to remain
in the country even longer, you can get another extension for two more
weeks, and then another 10 days. After that, adios! You must leave the
country, like it or not.
Now, here's the beauty of living in Chiang Rai or within vicinity. You can do a visa run at the border of Mae Sai Burma and get 30 days on your passport. You need only visit the Thai immigration office in Mae Sai, then walk across the Burmese border for a quick afternoon of shopping in their very limited market. Within as short as 30 minutes, you can then re-enter Thailand and presto, you have 30 days. You can do this ad infinitum. Thus tourists who live up here can virtually stay in Thailand for the rest of their lives without having to leave the country but for a very short afternoon. Note: You can take the public bus up to Mae Sai from CR for 50 baht. It's about a 50 minute ride, fairly scenic and enjoyable.
Once you arrive at the Bangkok airport, you will need to clear immigration and customs. On the plane, the stewardess should hand you a customs and immigration form to fill out. With this in mind, always have a pen handy when you travel. When you exit the plane, just follow the crowd and signs pointing to immigration. Tip: try to walk as fast as possible, ahead of the crowds to get to immigration ASAP. The lines can get rather long. Last time I waited almost 45 minutes in line.
At immigration, you will be asked to see your passport and your filled out immigration form you can fill it out while waiting in line. It's just basic information. When you approach an immigration officer, he will take your passport and stamp it. The stamp will have the date of arrival into Thailand and the date you must depart, 30 days later unless you have a visa, then you can stay 59 days. From immigration, you walk down the stairs to the luggage department and then on through customs. Unless you are bringing in things like a TV, full size computer lap tops are no problem, furniture odd ball items like plants, illegal drugs yeah, right!, animals or other weird stuff, you need not declare your goods. Therefore, as you exit, look for the green sign which reads, "Nothing To Declare". That's where you exit from the airport to paradise. Once you pass the customs section, you will be in the last section of the airport. Here you will find crowds of people waiting to greet their arriving friends, taxi drivers hustling you for a ride, and people who are so bored with their lives they just like to hang out at airports to see who's coming into town. As you pass this crowd, on your left side opposite the street will be a Money Exchange Booth. Be sure to exchange at least $200 before exiting the airport. You will need to pay for your taxi in Thai baht the local currency and probably be asked to pay in Thai baht for the first night stay at your hotel. Yes, you can do a Visa or Master card cash advance at the booth. Ask for 10,000 baht advance about $250 depending on the exchange rate.
Money Exchange Booths
A Money Exchange Booth is where you go to convert your US dollar, Traveler's check, Visa card/ATM card for cash advance into the local currency, the Thai baht. . Be aware that while traveling in Thailand, for most services and purchases, you will be expectedc to pay with the local currency. Professional establishments, upper scale hotels/restaurants will accept Visa or Mastercard, but will incur a 5% service charge. Exchange booths and 24 hour service ATMS machine scan be found at the airport, most major malls, hospitals, universities, red light districts, and tourist areas. While ATM machines are usually open 24 hours a day rarely are they "off line", most Money Exchange Booths close early in the evening, often by 8 or 9 p.m. Therefore it is adviced you do all your exchanging during the day time, from 10 p.m till 6 p.m. Exchange booths are open 7 days a week. You will find both money exchange booths and ATM machines in vicinity of the Night Bizarre in CR. Be aware the booths close by 10 p.m. or earlier 9 p.m. so it's recommended you exchange your money ahead of time afternoons referable. You will also find the ATM machines in that area walk across the street from the Wiang Inn hotel and you'll see an ATM machine at the Thai Military bank which are open 24 hours a day. Note if you exchange TC's, you must have your passport as ID.
You will get the best exchange rate using fresh, $100 bills. You cannot exchange US coins. You can exchange $1, $5, $20 bills, but you will get a slightly lower exchange rate.
Bring your passport when cashing in your Traveler's Check. Important note: if you have $1,000 notes, make sure you bring your orginal purchasing receipt. Most banks are leary of cashing in $1,000 TC's. However, I have done it before.
Cash Advance on Credit Cards
Visa always preferred. You can get up to 15,000 baht depending on the bank per day in cash advances on your Visa/Mastercard. Bring your passport for ID.
Most AMT machines will allow a maximum of 10,000 baht per 24 hour period. Sometimes you can trick the ATM machine by doing two cash advances in a row. Of course, using several cards will allow you to cash in more money. Your ATM machine will pay you in Thai baht, not US dollar. For security, it's best you avoid using your ATM after midnight. Once you cash in your money, deposit the bulk into your safe deposit box, leaving you enough 4,000 baht? to playwith for the day/night. If you wish, for example on your departure, to cash in your Thai baht back into US dollar, you can do so at the Bangkok International airport Thai Military bank has an Exchange booth in the airport or just about any Money Exchange Booth for that matter. Generally, you will lose a bit when converting back to US dollar, but the amount is not too significant. For example, an exchange rate of 44 baht per dollar when converting US dollar to baht will refect an exchange rate of about 44.6 baht when turnging your baht back into US dollar. Not a great loss provided you are not exchanging a large chunck of money.
Hotel and Guesthouses
The price varies drastically, depending on your living standards. For example, if you stay at the Ban Bua Guesthouse, room rates for the smaller rooms are 170 baht per day. Contrast that with the 1,600 baht room rate at the Rimrok Resort Hotel.Thus, depending on what type of hotel you stay in, your daily costs will vary drastically.
Food costs are a different story. Chiang Rai is cheap when it comes to food and restaurants. Lunch Buffets at even the upper class hotels, such as the Rimkok or Wiang Inn only run you 100 baht per person. That's not much more than what you'd pay had you choosen to eat at Pizza Company, in which a small pizza and coke will run you about the same price. Guesthouses and small restaurants along Jetyod street offer basic Thai dishes, such as Thai noodles, for a mere 25-45 baht fifty cents to a dollar. Thus you can survive well on about 200 baht per day by simply pigging out at the Wiang Inn for lunch 100 baht all-you-can-eat buffet, then enjoying a pizza or Thai dish at a local restaurant later in the evening. The Seven-Eleven has all kinds of goodies, ice cream, local cakes, candy, etc. for late night munchies.
Will run you about the same as in South Pattaya. The going rate for short time is 1,000 baht. Bar fines at both the outdoor beer bars and Phatphong Go Go bars vary between 300-500 baht. Drinks are inexpensive at almost every bar unless you go to the Karaoke bars in which the prices are double to triple what you pay elsewhere, a soda or local beer running you 25-60 baht. The price varies from bar to bar. For example, the bar fine at Lobo in Phatphong is 300 baht; in Snake A Go Go in Phatphong it's 500 baht. Between drinks, lady drinks about 65 baht at most bars, bar fines 300-500 baht and short time or all night if the girl really likes you; 1,000 baht, expect to spend around 1500-2000 baht on girls and drinks. Of course, if you drink a lot of booze, your costs will be higher.
Most Tuk Tuk drivers or motorbike taxi drivers will charge you 20-30 baht for a ride around town. You can rent a motorbike for about 120 baht per day or 4,500 baht per month. Car rental rates are more costly, about 1,600 baht per day. That's without a driver. If you wish to explore other small towns, local bus fares are very cheap. For example, a quick ride up to Mae Sai the last city before Burma, it's only 25 baht on the local fan bus, one way. Baht bus looks like a pickup truck with seating in the back rates are 10 baht per person.
The shopping is very limited, so outside of a few T-shirts and a few odd ball items that may catch your fancy, you won't be spending much on shopping. Save your shopping for Bangkok.
A full bundle of clothes will run you a mere dollar or two. Overall, Chaing Rai is very inexpensive and if you wish to travel on a budget, between paying 170 baht for a guesthouse, 200 baht per day to pig out, 120 baht per day to rent a motorbike, another 200 baht for odds and ends, you can travel for dirt cheap. You largest cost, outside of staying in the high end hotels, will be girls. But of course!
If in doubt, 10-20 baht is more than a fair tip. The average wage for a server is 2,000 baht per month or about 66 baht per day. Thus idiots who tip 100-200 baht are paying double to triple what a server makes per day. That would be like giving a $50 tip to the waitress at McDonald's who handed you your overcooked Big Mac.
Bangkok Domestic Airport
Let's talk about getting from the Bangkok domestic airport to the international airport in Chiang Rai, then onto your hotel. Flying around Thailand i.e., from city to city is considered a domestic flight. In other words, going from city to city in Thailand means you don't leave the country. Thus a flight from Bangkok into Chiang Rai is a domestic flight. Domestic flights are more relaxed in terms of security. You are only required to check-in one hour before departure rather than 3 hours on an international flight. There is no international departure tax on domestic flights. However, you may have to pay a small domestic airport tax fee of 50 baht. From Bangkok, you may fly directly, non-stop into Chiang Rai. The flight is 65 minutes; be aware because of heavy flight traffic into Bangkok from Chiang Rai, you may be delayed in landing on your return to Bangkok.
Thai Airlines has 4 daily flights, morning, afternoon, and evening. Be aware flights gets canceled on the spur of the moment, due to lack of customers. Indeed, at the higher class hotels, such as the Wiang Inn or Wangcome in Chiang Rai, in the hotel lobby you may see a post of flights cancelled for the day! Check your flight to be sure it's going out that day! The cost to fly from Bangkok to Chiang Rai, one way is about 2,600 baht some travel agents charging slightly less or more. There is no discount for round trip.
As a general rule, with 4 flights daily, you can book a flight the same day you wish to fly out. The exception would be holidays such as The Water Festival in April in which you better book at least 4-5 days in advance. Any travel agent in Bangkok, such as JP Travel on Soi Nana right outside the Nana hotel will be happy to issue you a ticket to Chiang Rai. You can also purchase a ticket right at the airport, however this is not advised since flights into Chaing Rai and back to Bangkok do get booked solid. Book ahead of time whenever possible.
Thai Airlines allows one carry on although nobody seems to follow this rule and as long as the plane is not jam packed, you'll be allowed to take 2-3 smalls items on board, and the usual 2 large suitcases maximum 70 kilos. Consult Thai airlines if you have extra large baggage. It is recommended any delicate items, such as a laptop computer, camera, camcorder, etc., be hand carried carry on onto the plane with you.
Arriving in Chiang Rai
You will be about 20 minutes away from the center of town. Getting to your hotel is simple. Simply walk outside the airport and flag down any taxi. The price will vary depending on the driver and your ability to bargain, but 100-200 baht is a fair price to get into town. You will note that taxi drivers in Chaing Rai are much more relaxed and less greedy than their counter-parts in Bangkok and elsewhere. Tip: Have the name of your hotel written in Thai to hand to your taxi driver as you arrive at the airport. Few drivers speak much English at all and often have a difficult time understanding foreigners with their heavy accent. Tip: If for some strange reason your driver can't find your hotel i.e., if you're staying in a guesthouse in the middle of nowhere, have him take you to the Wiang Inn hotel, which every driver is familiar with. Then, while he waits, go inside the hotel and have them write in Thai the name of the hotel you wish to go to.
If you stay at any of the hotels in the center of town such as the Wian Inn or Wangcome hotel, you can walk to most of the places you wish to go i.e., such as open beer bars, the massage parlors, Phatpong, the Night Bizzare, etc.. However, if you find you need transportation, there are basically 4 ways to get around.
The Tuk Tuk is a three wheeled motorized taxi, similar to what you'll find in Bangkok. Most of the drivers hang outside the Night Bizaare or outside the Wiang Inn. The average fare is 20-30 baht around town. Be sure to bargain the price before you get in.
The blue taxis "song tau lek", meaning "two seater, small" function both as a private taxi in which you can hire it out to take you anywhere in town and as a local type of bus in which it follows a specific route. The normal fare along it's route is 10 baht per person. If you divert from it's route, expect to pay the same as a Tuk Tuk, about 20-30 baht for anywhere around town.
Are all over town and for 20-30 baht you can get a ride just about anywhere you wish to go.
Rentals. If you wish, you can rent a motorbike 150 baht per day and cruise the streets on your own. Driver carefully!
A healthy way to get around town is to do what the Mormon missionary's do: rent/buy a bicycle. Most of the terrain is flat and with the coolness of the morning dew, you can do a great work out and sightsee at the same time as you bicycle around. A fairly sturdy bike will run you a mere $50, cheaper than most gyms charge in the states for a month of working out.
Unfortunately, being that this is a very small town and not a major tourist attraction, there are only a limited number of "falang" Western style or suitable restaurants to eat in. There is no McDonald's up here so if you have your heart set on a Big Mac while touring CR, you are going to suffer greatly. However, that is not to say you cannot find a decent dish. For starters, here is a list of places to check out when the stomach starts growling.
Rimkok Resort hotel
Has a great lunch buffet for only 99 baht. The buffet featured a decent salad bar, a wide selection of beef, chicken, pork and fish dishes, appetizers, and a nice selection of fruits and deserts. For 99 baht, it was a steal! I can't see any food stall or Thai restaurant able to compete with that.
Wiang Inn hotel
Without a doubt, the lunch buffet at the Wiang Inn is the best in town. The buffet offers a full spread of dishes including a nice salad bar, soup, Thai appetizers, main course dishes mostly Thai style, fruit, and pastry/ice cream for desert. Best of all, the price is only 100 baht. Note: the breakfast/dinner buffets are more than double the price and not as good.
right across the street from the Night Bizarre. Good old fashioned American style pizza. A small single pizza will cost you a mere 55 baht.
Swensen's Ice Cream
Yes, wherever you find Pizza Company, you are sure to find next to it a Swensen's Ice Cream parlor. I usually come in here for my 49 baht milkshake. Swensens is a great place to take a date. Few girls can resist an invitation to Swensen's.
Yuck! I ate lunch there once and the food was horrible, the milkshake sour and the price triple what you would find elsewhere. Need I say more?
Night Bizarre food court
Adjacent to the small alley way at the Night Bizarre you will find two outdoor restaurants actually, there is a third in the far back of the bizarre, but that's mostly where Thais eat. It kind of looks dirty if you ask me. The food is very inexpensive and pretty good, actually. A noodle dish, for example, will run you a mere 20 baht Pad Thai noodles. The special fish of the day runs a mere 80 baht. Given the nice weather, the live musical entertainment Thai style dancing and soft rock live bands makes for a great time.
Big C mall
Here you will find good old KFC, the ever popular MK serving potluck style soups and a fair sized food court all Thai food, most of which is of very poor quality. You can also find a wide range of fruits, veggies, dairy products, etc. upstairs in the supermarket.
The large open air curry vendor a few blocks south from the Clock Tower is excellent near all the video shops - across from the 7-11, they must lay out about 50 different curries for lunch and they 50 different for dinner . This has got to be some of the best food available in Chaing Rai. Good veggie dishes available.
Chiang Rai municipality has a public water system with safe, clean, chlorinated water piped to homes. The Water Supply office is on Kaisornrasit Road below the Provincial hall, and offers coin-operated water-dispensing hoses.
In the north, as in the rest of Thailand, people often drink bottled water. Maybe not in the countryside, where most people get their water from wells usually with electric pumps, but most city people buy it from pick-up trucks that come around with big bottles of water. These range from 5 to 20 baht each, for 20 liters. One must first put a deposit on one of the returnable bottles, at 70 to 200 baht. This water is filtered tap water. In stores one often finds more expensive water, in sizes from 7 ounces up to about a gallon. Usually a cooled plastic bottle, about a liter of water cleaned by reverse osmosis, is 5 or 10 baht. The imported kind is naturally more. Two liters top shelf, 40 baht, room temperature. In front of Taweekit Department Store, just north of the main market, there's a nice automatic coin-operated water-dispensing machine, 1 baht for a liter of reverse-osmosis cleaned water.
If you do decide to come up to Chiang Rai or go anywhere else in Thailand looking for a wife, I highly recommend you hire out a translator guide. Few of you will be able to speak Thai well enough to pick up on the hundreds and hundreds of babes that roam this town. Even if a girl is agressive and tries to secure a date with you which will happen, at the date you'll sit there with a blank stare, being unable to communicate. A guide will work to your advantage in many areas. Here are a few examples, You spot a beautiful girl working as a waitress in a restaurant or as a salesgirl in a mall. Take your guide there to eat or shop and let him/her ask the girl out for you. Next thing you know, the three of you will be enjoying a night out on the town. The girl you met on your own wants to go out with you. She calls you at your hotel, but you don't speak any Thai and her English sucks. Is she saying on the phone to fuck off or she wants to come over and fuck? Your guide will be able to set up the date. You're dating this one girl, but you're not sure if she's after your money or you. Your guide will be able to investigate her by simply asking around what type of person she is and how she feels about you. Without an investigation, you won't know if she's the queen virgin or wicked witch of the far north. You've fallen in love and she wants you to meet her family. You better take your guide with you or the parents will be asking you questions which, if you can't answer in their language, will lead to the end of the relationship with your true love. Seeking out a wife in Thailand? Hire a guide, really! Where to find one. Ask the receptionist at your hotel. In Chiang Rai, go to Pure Power Internet cafe and ask the owners. They speak Thai and English. Go to any translations shop along the alley way near the Wang Come Hotel. If you do hire out a guide, I suggest a female for going out and picking up girls you know, it's the sisterhood thing. Girls tend to trust girls; you don't need a male guide trying to pick up on your girl, anyway. If you're already secure in the relationship and just need to translate stuff with her family, a male or female will work equal.
Hopefully you will not have an serious problems during your stay in Chiang Rai, but if you do have an emergency, you can call the emergency Tourist Police number: 1699. Or you can visit the Tourist Police either at night 7 to 11 p.m. at the Night Bizarre or at the main office across the street from the YMCA. The Tourist Police also offer good travel advice free literature on how to stay healthy while traveling, how to protect your valuables, etc. and are "at your service" 24 hours a day.
Any scams out here in Chiang Rai? Actually, I have not found any of the street hustlers like you find along Pattaya beach who keep trying to come up with new scams to get money out of you. The current one is to get you to invest in "time share" real estate in Jomtien beach. Don't waste your time. Actually, you will find the Thai people in small towns like Chiang Rai extremely warm and friendly, much more so then their counter-parts in the big city. While this is not to say you can simply trust everyone you meet, but I've yet to run into any scams.
How do you recognize when somebody is trying to scam you? The first and most vital sign of a scam coming your way is the stranger who approaches you on the street, of course a Thai man. Recognized salesmen who are legit have their own shops; scammers can't stay in business long so they must work the streets on their own. Thus anyone who approaches you on the street, you simply should not trust at all. It's that simple.
Another signal of a scam is anyone who asks to be paid up front as a rule you pay after, not before just about any service. Exceptions would be massage parlors, brothels, and a few services that may require payment up front, such as a hotel asking for the first night's rent. Don't ever pay for sex in a bar up front, that's a scam coming your way.
Pure Power" internet cafe has probably the most modern computers/modems/monitors in town. It's at 545/5 Rattanakhet Rd., open from 8 a.m. till 9 p.m. Rates are 1 baht per minute. If you exit the Night Bizarre and walk across the street, turn right, and walk straight on past the intersection light signal, it's about a half block down the street. They also rent bikes 80 baht per day, passport required as deposit so you don't run off with the bike.
If you wish to call home while in Chaing Rai, my first advice is don't do so from your hotel room. Why? Because the rates will be enormous, as much as $3 to $5 per minute (depending on the hotel), plus possible service charges on top of that.
Unfortunately, there is nothing much in the way of shops where you can make your international phone calls (Pure Power Internet Cafe does have an international phone booth; that's probably the most comfortable place to make your call as the store is air conditioned and quiet). Outside of that and any luxury hotel you might be staying at, your only choice are the outdoor phone booths set up right along the street where Swensen's and Pizza Company is (across the street from the Night Bizaar). Basically, the Thais have set up their own private little phones shops right on the street. For as little as 15 baht per minutes, you can make us of their cell phone and call home. Be aware you call right there on the street, so you have to put up with some of the traffic and street noise, as well as whatever weather conditions you may find at the time. The phone booths are set up typically from noon till 11 p.m., when most of the town goes to sleep.
Chiang Rai offers little in the way of nightlife. If you're expecting to find another Pattaya or Bangkok up here, you will be very disappointed. There are only a handful of open air beer bars and Go Go bars, a few local discos set up for Thais mostly and little in the way of massage parlors that offer full service i.e., sex. In short, if you're coming up here looking for a wild night on the town, you've come to the wrong place. However, if you'll looking for a quaint and quiet setting to BRING your Thai girlfriend i.e., from Pattaya or Bangkok, Chiang Rai will satisfy for a 2-3 day visit.
In Thailand has been said to be 16 years old. It is said you can sleep with a girl of 16 as long as you don't pay her. We recommend that you stay with the 18-and- over law. Some of the girls carry identification cards that will show their birth date, but unfortunately it will be written in Thai. If you are unsure of her age, have her i.d. card checked out by your hotel security guard before you bring her up to the room. If you can make out the year on the card, you can calculate how old she is by knowing that it is the year 2543 now in Buddha years, the year 2000 for the Westerners. So if a girl is born in 2525 you are likely to be safe that she is at least 18 years old. To play it extra safe have it say 2524 or earlier.
The age of consent in Thailand is fifteen 15. This is the age in which a "dek" Thai word for "child" loses his/her status as a child and becomes a young adult. This is made evident from the legal ID cards Thais receive when they turn fifteen 15. For example, a Thai woman who receives her ID card at the age of fifteen receives the title "nang" making her a "Miss", meaning an adult. The age of consent is not to be confused with the "legal" age one can engage in sex with a prostitute.
The only complex of Go Go bars in Chiang Rai is in Phatphong area along Jetyot road behind the Wangcome hotel. Here you will find a small private alley way with 9 small bars and only a handful of willing women. Of these nine none of them featured any nudity, topless dancing or sex shows. Rather, what you will find is a kickback atmosphere with only a handfull of fairly cute girls usually 1-3 up on stage, another 4-5 hanging outside the door, pretending to say hello while munching on their spicy Som Tum Thai dish. That does not sound very encouraging, but I guess the good news is there are only a handful of guys to balance out the few girls.
Phatphong stands, with qualification that being you must speak some conversational Thai a pretty decent place to meet girls and get laid. The selection is limited although with low season kicking in, march to september, it seems there are more and more girls and less and less tourists and everone there knows each other meaning if you're an asshole, you will get ex-communicated by all the girls within a 24 hour period. Be nice!.
The biggest problem I see is the girls speak no English at all. Even the phrase, "I pay bar for you" is not understood by most of the girls. Half or more of the clientle is Thai and the girls are much more responsive to guys who speak Thai. What this means is this is not an easy place to get laid unless you can speak conversational Thai and have a familiarity of Thai behaivor if you just walk in, ask a girl to go bar fine, she will most likely say, "No".
Go Go Bars
Butterfly bar for sale.
Snake a Go Go
Snake a Go Go probably has the best looking girls, but the prices are higher than the other bars. Compare the 500 baht bar fine at Snake with only a 300 baht bar fine at Lobo.
Bar fine is 300 baht, soda water is 25 baht and ladys drinks are 65 baht.
The cost is 1,000 baht short time, about 2-3 hours. Soda water is 25 baht and lady's drinks are 65 baht. Bar fine is 400 baht.
Open Beer Bars
There's only a small handful of beer bars i.e., open air bars that cater to tourists. The largest cluster, or more succintly the only small cluster of bars will be found on Jedyod road same street where Phatpong is. There are only 4-5 beer bars with seating capacity of about 6-10 people. Each bar has only a handful of working girls, the Nancy bar probably having the cutest of what I've seen. The bars will serve beer during the day, but most girls don't show up to work until early evening 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., closing at 1 a.m. The bar fine is 300 baht and most girls will expect a tip for short time of 1,000 baht. i.e., about an hour or so of sex with you in your hotel Lady's drinks are about 70 baht and a coke will cost you a mere 20-30 baht. It's cheap out here, but it's also very limited. Some girls will try to hit you up for 2,000 baht, but can be talked down to 1,000. Note: Not every girl will go with you. I found the girls at Nancy bar to be the most easy to meet and sleep with. To my surprise, several girls simply would not go barfine.
Outdoor beer bars
on Jetyod road. Behind the Wangcome hotel on Jetyod rd. you will find only a handful of small outdoor beer bars. The bar fine is 300 baht and the girls expect a 1,000 baht tip for short time i.e., about an hour or so of sex with you in your hotel. Some girls will try to hit you up for 2,000 baht, but can be talked down to 1,000. Note: not every girl will go with you. I found the girls at Nancy bar to be the most easy to meet and sleep with. To my surprise, several girls simply would not go barfine.
Chiang Rai is limited when it comes to the "full service" i.e., where you get sex along with the massage massage parlors. While the tourist area i.e., vicinity of the Night Bazarre, spelled "ni bisa" in Thai in case you wonder why they pronounce it funny has it's share of legitimate traditional massage parlors i.e., no sex except with a few of the sleezy ones, there is almost nothing in the way of sex parlors. Probably the best and only? place around is in the back of the Wiang Inn hotel. There you will find a small selection of fairly decent women willing, for a small fee of about 500 baht for a traditional massage no sex and 1,600 for a 90 minute massage that "includes everything", so the host will tell you. Open from 2 pm. till midnight. There are two alley ways both sides of the Wangcome hotel that have the largest selection of "traditional massage parlors" in town. If coming from Pizza Company or Swensen's, heading towards the Wangcome hotel, walk down the alley way on the right side of the Wangcome. The very last massage parlor right before you reach Jetyod street has a very nice selection of girls. The key is you must take them to your hotel; at the parlor they most likely won't let you screw them. The cost for the massage is typical, 200 baht for 2 hours at the parlor, this is the traditional massage and 300 baht at your hotel for 2 hours. If the girl lets you screw her, a 700-1,000 baht tip should suffice.
Tip: First have the girl of your choice massage you at the parlor. Then, if she seems nice enough and interested, next time get her to do the massage at your hotel. While I wouldn't call any of these girls virgins, most are not hard core hookers, so you have to kind of ease into it. You do that by taking a few massages with the same girl, then after she feels you're a nice guy, you are set to bang her although not all with let you screw them.
A "lady home", as the Thais call it, is a brothel or whorehouse. They say virtually every city in Thailand has them. The prime distinction between a lady home and a Go Go bar or beer bar is the clientele. Lady homes are basically brothels that cater to local Thai men. The standard price varies, typically from 100 baht for Thai men to 200 baht for foreigners for "short time" i.e., a quickie in the back of the brothel. Generally, the management does not like you taking the girl for the entire evening and will command a high price if you ask 2,000 baht on up.It will be impossible for you to find a lady home on your own. That is because they are hidden among residential areas. To find them you hire out a Thai motorbike driver or Tuk Tuk driver to take you around. Just about every driver knows where to find them. A lady home is a low class, Thai style brothel. At most of the lady homes throughout Thailand, they have small rooms in the back where you can take the girl for short time. I found most lady homes do not like you taking the girls to your hotel with the exception of those homes that do not have rooms in the back to screw in. Be aware that for those homes that have rooms to screw in, such rooms are for Thais, meaning there will be no air conditioning, no showers or toilets if there are, they will be Thai style which is very uncomfortable for foreigners, and probably cockroaches and other biting varments roaming the floor and ceiling. In short, it's not a very comfortable surrounding in which to screw.
There are only a handful of lady homes in Chiang Rai I've visited 3-4 of them, all hidden and in either residential or business areas. Again, you must have a Thai take you there as you will never find it on your own. Three of the homes I found were in the back of small grocery shops. When I walked in, about ten girls came from the back to greet me. They sat down and a male pimp asked me which one I like. The price was not so cheap, 1,000-1,500 baht for "short time", meaning the girl would go with me to my hotel for about an hour, then return. There were no rooms at any of the homes to screw the girls there.
I found most of the hookers rather disgusting looking, anywhere from their mid twenties to their mid forties. I didn't see anything that came even close to resembling an underage girl, Ed Bradley take note. The girls were dressed quite conservative long jeans or long skirts, old-fashioned blouses; no sexy outfits whatsoever. Most had kegs of make-up and the white powder splattered all over their face to make them appear whiter; white skin is considered more beautiful in Thailand. None of the women spoke a word of English and the male pimp himself was not exactly well versed. While the lady homes are technically open 24 hours a day, you will be best to visit them early in the evening, between 8 p.m. till midnight. How to choose your girl? Besides looks, go for the one that smiles at you. Those that turn their head away or won't make eye contact are those that don't want to go with you and will probably be a bum fuck. I would definitely wear a condom. HIV rates are highest in the brothels of the northern regions.
Another place to get laid is a karaoke/bar. To find this great little whorehouse, walk from the Wangcome hotel to Jetyod street and turn right, heading towards Phatphong bar. Outside you will see a bunch of girls sitting around and a huge sign in Thai and the familiar Pepsi logo, both in English and Thai. Any of the girls there are available to take for short time, however you must be able to speak a bit of Thai or they won't even understand you when you say, "How much for short time." The place opens at 8 p.m. and the girls go home at 1 a.m. Definitely worth checking out. There's about 10-15 hookers who sit in front of the bar outdoor soliciting customers. The cost is 1,300 baht up front you have to pay in advance to the mamasan.
There are only a handful of disco's in town, most if not all of which cater to local Thai clientele. There are no disco's that can be compared to what you'll find at Angels i.e., the disco inside the Nana hotel in Bangkok or the Marine bar in Pattaya, where tourist and Thai hooker merge. Instead, at the local discos you will find mostly Thai couples and groups who come to party, drink, and listen to live entertainment actually, many of the Thai bands out here are quite good. What this means is if you're going to the disco with your Thai date, she is going to have a blast. If you're coming to the disco alone hoping to meet a girl to spend the night with, well, I wish you good luck. In short, the disco is not the place to come if you're looking to pick up girls the exception being if you speak Thai well, then all of a sudden your odds increase 100%. By the way, keep in mind if you already have a Thai girlfriend and wish to take her to the disco, she must have an ID card proving she is 20 years of age. Under 20 means no entrance.
Fun Fun Fun
Down the street from Sperm disco, is a small disco/bar that features live music. The bands are local players who feature popular upbeat Thai music which is actually quite good. The disco doesn't attract much of a crowd and kind of has a rugged and sleezy feel to it. In short, while it's always worth a visit to a new place, this is probably the disco you want to avoid.
Inn Come hotel
You'll find probably what can be considered Chiang Rai's largest and most popular disco. They feature top name live bands on the weekends, packing in the crowds. Depending on the band, you will have to pay a cover charge which usually includes a house drink of about 200 baht. The disco is set up similar to Excite disco in Pattaya. What that means is the tables are set up so that once you grab a seat, you don't move from it. In other words, it's not the place where you can roam around, meaning this is not the place to go to pick up Thai girls the lighting is also so dim, you probably wouldn't even be able to tell if the girl you're talking to is cute or ugly. In a nut shell, this is not the place to go to pick up on Thai women. Instead, if you have a Thai girlfriend already and you want to go out for a drink and entertainment, this is a great place to come. Be aware the band and DJ plays music at an extremely high volume, so you might want to take some ear plugs or put cotton in your ear lest you go deaf.
Sperm disco is a small disco that caters to local Thais. It packs out during the weekends, both with Thai couples and single Thai men and women looking to mingle. I'd say this place has the largest potential for picking up Thai girls. However, the main difficultly is twofold. The girls you'll meet here don't speak a word of English. If you don't speak Thai, you're not going to do well. The tables are set up in a way so it's difficult to mingle with the crowd. So even if there is a cute girl who does speak some English and she's interested, you might find it hard to get to her. Not that you can't get up and walk over, but it's not really set up that way. With all this in mind, it's probably more of the place you should take your Thai date to, rather than come here hoping to meet one.
You will find a host of interesting subjects to photograph in Chiang Rai. If you wish to have your film developed, the photo shop right at the entrance of the Night Bizarre does excellent work. It will run you 250 baht for an exposure of 36 shots, 4/6. Thai girls will let you photograph them in a PG setting. Such photos are great for sweet memory's and to show off to your buddies back home. To get the girl to "freeze" for the shot, tell her in Thai, "Ning ning" which means to hold still. Also, watch out shooting against the window during the day as the incoming light will trick your camera into thinking it should shut down the lens. Best time to shoot scenic shots is early morning 7 a.m. till 9 a.m. and late afternoon 4 p.m. till dusk.
The largest shopping complex in CR will be found at the Big C mall. The mall is a two story complex with a major supermarket on the second floor, various shops downstairs including a food court featuring low cost fast food Thai style, of course. If you've come to CR to live or visit long term, this is where you will want to go for all your shopping/supermarket needs. There's really nowhere else to go in this small town. Big C is about a 7 minute taxi ride from the center of town i.e., night bizarre. Any of the local tuk tuk's or blue taxis will take you there for 30 baht.
The Night Bizaare is the main tourist trap in Chiang Rai. It is bascially a small outdoor shopping center and outdoor restaurant featuring live entertainment such as traditional Thai dancers wrapped into one. Most of the items being sold are clothing and a variety of fake Thai jewelry, often displayed right on the ground. The outdoor restaurant is cheap enough a dish of Thai noodle will cost a mere 20 baht and is fun to just hang out at and stare at the crowd of tourists. Be aware that whatever you buy, you must bargain down the price. Most of the items the salesclerk will quote you can be bargained down at least 50% of the asking price. The bizaare is open nightly from 7 p.m. till midnight.
Available at Mae Kok Elephant Camp on the bank of the Mae Kok. You can take a ride through the surrounding forest and to nearby Karen hilltribe villages.
Bamboo rafts and inflatable boats are available for the journey down the Mae Kok, the provinces major artery.
Treks combine hiking, elephant back rides and rafting, and include stops or overnight stays at hilltribe villages.