Chiang Rai is about three and a half (or so) hours away from Chiang Mai by car. My roommate happens to have Agoda down to a science, so when she finds amazing deals, we jump on 'em. A new resort opened this past year in Chiang Rai, overlooking mountains yet not so far away from the farang-less bustle of the little city. We stayed at A-Star Phulare Valley Resort during this long weekend, thankful for the chillest few days known to man.
Though the road was long and we couldn't wait to get to the hotel and crash for a second, we stopped by one of the main attractions near Chiang Rai, Wat Rong Khun. Also known as the White Temple, it is a contemporary take on buddhist art in the form of a temple. In the recent earthquake it was damaged quite a bit, thus the scaffolding. The darkness and hopelessness that surrounded this place was unreal. If you get closer in person you can see that the etchings in certain places resemble arms reaching out of a river to grasp for anything that might bring them satisfaction. The effort taken to build this temple is incredible, the meaning disputed for the entire time it's been around. Travelers come from all around the world to see it, most just in awe of the beauty of the temple's exterior.
To wrap up the night spent driving we plopped our bags down at the resort and headed out to the main road to grab what might be the best noodle soup I've ever tasted in Thailand. I'd drive back to Chiang Rai just for that. The beautiful infinity pool was our final stop for the evening.
In the morning we took full advantage of all that A-Star had to offer. Mainly, we gawked at the beautiful scenery, fed some (rather dirty) sheep, etc. Katie had the pool to herself all morning because Asians don't like getting lots of sun, and I lounged around so sabaai in our villa suite. We left the resort in the afternoon for some fresh air, and to visit a café recommended by some Chiang Mai friends, Chivit Thamma Da. The restaurant/coffee shop has recently added a spa, and we were lucky enough to find a cute Thai hostess to show us around. This place took the cake for our favorite thing in Chiang Rai, the noodle soup from the first night forgotten.
After visiting and falling in love with this place, we went to the Saturday Night Walking Street, which was much cooler (in the spread of activities) than our own weekly walking street. Think group dancing (as close to contra as I'll get in Thailand) and performers, BMX parks and a food court that could be it's own walking street. No good photos from that part of the trip, but I did get out of the market with some cheap playdough that smelled like blue raspberry.
It's true that I am a complete loser, seeing as I forgot my DSLR for practically every cool part of this weekend. However, the likelihood I head back to this place with friends before the end is promising. Chiang Rai is a winner, for sure.