Thailand's North


Global Mark : 12.50

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 


4 3 2 4 4 3 4 2 2 12.44

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
9 100% (9) 67% (6) 67% (6) 8 to 17 12.56

Description : 
A little town bordering the Mekong River and one of Thailand's top tourist trap : the Golden Triangle

Comments : Beside being a cheaper & quieter place to stay than Sop Ruak (Golden Triangle), Chiang Saen also boost some good attractions on its own. 

What to do ? Bike the 9km or take a songthaew (B10) to the Golden Triangle / Take a picture of tourists having their picture taken in front of "Golden Triangle" door / Visit the interesting small opium museum / Bike a bit further for a good photo spot : Thailand, Burma & Laos on the same photo ! / Back in Chiang Saen, visit the good national museum (B30, Wed to Sund 8 to 16) / Next, see the tallest religious monument of Chiang Rai Province : Wat Phra That Chedi Luang (88m) / Visit one of the most beautiful Lanna Temple in North Thailand (Wat Pa Sak) / Wander around the other numerous ruins / Visit Phra Dhat Pha Ngao, a nice temple about 4km away on the road to Chiang Khong and climb the hill for a s pectacular view over the Mekong and Laos. / In season (Nov to Feb), watch migratory birds at Chiang Saen Lake (2km from the Km27 marker on Highway 1016) / In the evening, compare all the different herbs whisky on degustations by the river 

What you may not like ? The ridiculous cost of bike (B100 as only one shop) / The cost of internet (B2 per mn as only one place) / Falling on the river after too many Thai Whisky...

How long ? One good day.

Where to stay ? 

Hotels  << Get precise info, book online and save money !

  • Chiang Saen Guesthouse, Sop Ruak Rd, road parallel to the river, turn left from main road / Room 90(1) or 120(2), bungalow 150(1) or 200(2) / HW / This is now where most travelers are staying as nearby Siam GH is closed
  • There is another Guesthouse in town (no name) on a street next to the post office with dorm 60 and rooms 100.
  • The best place is however 1.5 km outside town, toward the Golden Triangle : Gins Guest House (650847) / Rooms 100(1) or 150(2), bungalows w. shower from 200 / Free lift from the Chiang Saen English Center (on the right from main street when going toward the river) / Got there for the good setting and the nice rooms. 

Internet ? The Chiang Saen English Center charges 2B per mn with a minimum charge of B40. This daylight robbery is justified by the staff as necessary as they have only one computer. Actually, it seems to remain under plastic most of the time...

 << Discover the tourist trap

Bus Schedules :

To Price Class Duration Time Nb Freq.
Chiang Rai 20 bus 2 6 to 17 a lot 20mn
Chiang Khong 30 bus 4 14 1 na
Mae Sai 30 songthaew 1 morning a few na

Notes : To Chiang Rai via Mae Chan (40mn, B10) / To Chiang Khong, also 1 songthaew at 10:30 (B40, 2.5 hrs)


Backpacker's Tips :  Stephanie Panichelli & Cristian Batalla, Belgium & Spain (April 05)
About Chiang Saen Guesthouse. We spend 1 night in this place, and even if it's very close to the Golden Triangle, due to the really low quality of the matress, we would really recommend to do the trip from Chiang Rai. Chiang saen is a very small village where there is not much to see. We really prefer Chian Rai to stay overnight.If you use the Routard Guide, don't go to the only place they recommend for eating (only place where the menu is in English) because they took advantage of our situation as "farangs". The price and the food were quite higher than on the menu.  


The trip to Chiang Khong : SSSSS / L&R / B40 / 3 hrs / Songthaew
Regular buses leave only at around 2pm and are advertised as being really slow (4 hours) for B30. A better & more convenient alternative is the daily songthaew which do the trip in about 2 hours for B40. It usually pass Chiang Saen Guesthouses for passengers at 10:30. 
It took us about 3.5 hours to reach destination. Beside a 20mn side trip to deliver a rooster, the normal road was too muggy from the morning rain to be used. A taste of Laos ? We did not really care the delay as the road was really spectacular and our nice driver even stopped to let us take the mandatory photos. But make sure you seat at the back as songthaew do not usually offer a good view from their side...

See also the trip from Mae Sai