If you’re coming up from Chiang Mai, the quickest and most obvious route to Chiang Rai is Highway 118, a fast, 185km road that swoops through rolling hill country. A much more scenic approach, however, is to follow Highway 107 and Highway 1089; a two-day trip along this route will leave you enough time for a longtail boat trip along the Kok River and an overnight stay in Tha Ton, which boasts several appealing riverside resorts and a wide variety of outdoor activities. There are other diversions en route, including the admirable Elephant Nature Park and a couple of good guesthouses that can arrange trekking in the countryside near Chiang Dao.

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