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Chiang Rai (เชียงราย)

Thai. Name of a province and its provincial capital (map) in North Thailand. The city lies on the southern bank of the Kok River (fig.), at 829 kilometers north of Bangkok and 185 kms from Chiang Mai, and at an altitude of around 416 meters above sea level. It has a population of approximately 45,000 inhabitants. In northern dialect it is called Chiang Hai. The city was founded in 1262 by King Mengrai as part of the Lan Na kingdom. Chiang Rai became Thai territory in 1786 and a Thai province in 1910. Among the places of interest are the King Mengrai Monument (map - fig.), Wat Rong Khun (fig.), Wat Tham Pla (map - fig.), several natural hot springs, e.g. those at Wiang Pa Pao (map - fig.), the City Clock Tower (fig.), Wat Rong Seua Ten (fig.), Wat Khrua Khrae (fig.), Wat Ming Meuang (fig.), Wat Phra Kaew (fig.), and Wat Tham Pah Acha Thong with its phra khi mah bintabaat, as well as the city's most important historical monument, Wat Phra Kaew. In this temple the Emerald Buddha was discovered after its octagonal chedi was struck and damaged by lightning in 1434 thus revealing the statue. The province covers an area of 11,678 kmsē and numbers around 1,225,000 inhabitants. Its northern border is formed by the Mae Khong river, with across the provinces Bokeo and Oudomxai of the Democratic Republic of Laos, whilst to the West it borders the Shan State of the Union of Myanmar at the Golden Triangle, once the hub of opium production. Furthermore it borders the Thai provinces of Phayao, Lampang and Chiang Mai and is the most northerly province, about 2,100 kms away from Thailand's southernmost border. Its northernmost town is Mae Sai, situated at the confluence of the Ruak and Mae Sai rivers, at the Burmese border. The province has 16 amphur and two king amphur, 124 tambon and 1,510 villages known as mu ban. See also Chiang Rai data file.