Chiang Rai is a relatively small town but is surprisingly popular with tourists, both Thai and western. In this post, we will introduce to you 5 next destinations in the list of top 10 cultural sites that you should not miss.
A venue with a focus on modern art, this gallery space was founded by Angkrit Ajchariyasophon who wanted to provide residency space to alternative art forms. The gallery first opened its doors in 2008 and since then has hosted a range of events from art exhibitions to film screenings to talks. Priority is given to up and coming artists who have never been exhibited before, giving them the opportunity to gain exposure. Angkrit Gallery also brings together collections of works by internationally renowned artists who wish to display their work in new settings.
Mae Fah Luang Gardens
This European style park was created by the royal family to offer the opportunity to experience the flora of milder regions to those who often don’t get the opportunity to travel. Built on the site of a village that was once central to the opium drug trade between Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos (the Golden Triangle), it was intended to bring harmony to this troubled region. In fact, the Princess Mother was so invested in the area that she built a Swiss style chalet on the hill above the park, known as the Doi Tung Villa, to serve as her summer residence. This house is also worth a visit, especially the mail hall which has a ceiling decorated with a map of the stars and the 12 zodiac signs.
Hill Tribe Museum and Education Centre
The indigenous populations of Northern Thailand have been part of the region for centuries, but exploitation for the tourist dollar means that it can be hard to know if your visit is ethical. The best way to get an understanding of these fascinating tribal groups is to arrange a visit with the education center in town. Set up in association with the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), this display gives insights into the traditional way of life and works with a number of communities including the Karen, Akha, Hmong and Lahu people. Their daily tours to visit the hill tribes are enlightening and respectful, with profits being invested back into the communities.
Doy Din Dang Pottery
Combining his international training in Japan, Laos and Cambodia with a feel for his homeland, Somluk Pantiboon creates pottery in his studio and gallery on the outskirts of Chiang Rai. Using natural glazes produced from rice, bamboo, ash and wood through a chemical-free process, the ceramics have a pleasing rustic look to them and are practical as well as decorative. A visit here allows you to watch the locally trained potters at work – Pantiboon has set up an apprenticeship program and oversees the pottery. He is very happy to discuss his work and local crafts with visitors.
The Khua Silapa Project
The Khua Silapa (Art Bridge) Project was launched at the start of 2013 to provide a new art space for the city with the aim of making connections. Many prominent artists from Chiang Rai, including Angkrit, Pantiboon, and Kositpipat, were involved in the planning and creation of the center which comprises an art school, exhibition space, studios, and shop. The community will welcome visiting artists, help local artisans market their work and improve their skills, educate Thailand’s younger generation and allow tourists to soak up the best of Chiang Rai’s art scene. The project is an ambitious one, but it is already winning praise from critics as a shining example of how to provide a nurturing environment for emerging talent and local creativity.
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