Flights to Chiang Rai

The first time I heard about Chiang Mai was over twenty years ago. I was in Bangkok with a buddy of mine and we were on our way down south, to Koh Samui. Fresh out of college, we were stoners at the time so it didn’t take us long to find weed in Bangkok. We bought a small packet from a tuk-tuk driver and he was the one who told us about Chiang Mai up north. He described how opium was abundant in the region and that the Golden Triangle was one of the largest opium-producing areas in the world. Being a pair of potheads, we were intrigued.

That stoner trip to the Golden Triangle never came to fruition but it did get me interested in the area. Through the years, I learned that Chiang Mai was synonymous with elephants, digital nomads, and the similarly named city of Chiang Rai. Rarely did I read about Chiang Mai without Chiang Rai being mentioned with it. In my mind, it became a given that you couldn’t visit one without the other. You had to do both.

It may have been twenty years in the making, but my trip to Northern Thailand finally happened in 2017 when Ren and I decided to attend the Yee Peng Festival in Chiang Mai. Chiang Rai was our first stop.


Chiang Rai is three hours north of Chiang Mai by bus. Weather-wise, November to February is the best time to visit the region. It’s the coolest and driest time of the year. We were there in early November to attend the Yee Peng and Loy Krathong Festivals in Chiang Mai. Celebrated annually on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month, it’s a famous event and one of the most festive times to be in the region.

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