As an SPG gold member, choosing the Le Meridien for my stay in Chiang Rai (as well as in Chiang Mai) was a no-brainer. SPG offers a very inexpensive "cash & points" rate at both hotels, and is therefore clearly the best lodging offer in both cities if you have a few points in your account.
That said, calling this hotel a "resort" is a bit of an over-statement. The grounds are certainly pretty, as the rooms are spread out in a series of low-rise buildings overlooking an artificial-lake, a nice swimming area (the pools are VERY cold in winter -- swimming is marginal then), and the river. There's also a nice spa area, where you could (if you were so inclined) have some nice massages at about 5x the regular Thai price for such services. Other than that, it's just a pretty hotel in a somewhat isolated area of Chiang Rai.
For this reason, having a car for your stay here is not a bad idea. I am certain you could manage to get around town by taxi or taxi-like conveyances, but it would be a bit of a bother. Also, the charms of Chiang Rai are somewhat limited (Chiang Mai is a MUCH better tourist town), so you'll probably want to get "out and about," and a car is very useful for that purpose. Driving around Chiang Rai is more annoying than it is difficult (they need to hire a good traffic engineer, because you can waste half your life getting stuck at a Chiang Rai traffic light); driving around the rest of the region is relatively easy. And there's free parking at the hotel.
Because the hotel is only good (not great), you might want to limit your stay here and seek additional accomodations in places like Mae Salong and the Golden Triangle -- no real reason to drive back and forth to Chiang Rai.
Rooms at this hotel are 5-star with nice amenities and nice balconies. The hotel has a library with computers and free internet.
Service at the hotel is relatively friendly, but a bit unhelpful. As a SPG gold member, I was a bit disappointed that there was no lounge at the hotel, so no way to use a few points to upgrade for these privileges. Paying for breakfast at the property seemed a bit silly, as you're paying Western resort prices in a country were food is extremely cheap. We also didn't receive an alcoholic welcome drink as Gold members. And when I asked for late checkout, they only allowed me this privilege on one of my two rooms. I still don't know if there were any acitivities going on at the hotel during our stay, because no information was provided.
Doing laundry while staying at this property was a bit interesting. At the Chiang Mai Le Meridien, a place across the street would do a kilo of laundry for 20 baht. No such service we could find in Chiang Rai. After some prodding, a woman at Reception recommended we use a washing machine at a small apartment building relatively near the hotel (right turn at the main entrance, left at the first street, and a couple hundred meters up on the right). A bit inconvenient -- no dryer, so we had to dry our laundry on hangers in our room -- but at least it only cost 30 baht.
Le Meridien sponsors a local arts program, and as a guest of this property, you get into the worthwhile Rai Mae Fah Luang museum for free. It would be a bit of a taxi ride across town
if you didn't have a car. The only way I found out about this was a little card in my room.
For a Thai dinner, I would highly recommend the garden restaurant of Salungkham, no English sign, on Thanon Phaholyothin across from the PT station. About a mile from the hotel. Great northern Thai food, with some dishes a little different from what you might expect -- like good barbequed meats. You'll pay a tiny fraction of what dinner would cost at the hotel.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The resort occupies an idyllic 26-rai site directly on the banks of the Mae Kok River, moments from Chiang Rai town and a one hour drive from the Golden Triangle where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar converge. The resort is set at the heart of beautiful landscaped gardens complete with a tranquil man-made lake and two majestic 100-year-old rain trees. Surrounded by magnificent mountain scenery, the neighbouring community is a jewel waiting to be explored. Nearby attractions include Rai Mae Fah Luang, Le Méridien's chosen UnLock Art site, and Oub Kham Museum which houses a collection of objects from the ancient Lanna kingdom, Myanmar, southwest China, and Vietnam. Nearby attractions include Wat Phra Kaew, the temple that once housed the Emerald Buddha, and the Hill Tribe Education Centre with its fascinating display of tribal artefacts and handicrafts. Boat trips along the Mae Kong River are available from the town of Chiang Khong, with stops along the way at villages of interest. Ethnic groups living in the province include Karen, Lisu, Lahu, Akha, Meo, and Yao, and it is possible to arrange treks into the hill tribe villages with experienced local guides. Mae Sai is 62 kilometres north of Chiang Rai and makes for an interesting day trip. This busy trading post borders Myanmar, and it is possible to cross the bridge to visit the bustling market in Tha Khi Lek. Phu Chi Fa is a spectacular viewpoint. The impressive views are best enjoyed early in the morning, particularly in the cool season when mist covers the valley floor. A highlight to any trip to Chiang Rai is a visit to the Doi Tung Development Project. Started as a royal initiative to help eradicate opium supply, drug use, and rural poverty, the project offers villagers with a practical and sustainable alternative. The project focuses on development, education, training, humanitarian activities, environmental conservation, agriculture, and the production of quality crafts. At the summit of Doi Tung, visitors can visit Phra That Doi Tung, a chedi constructed in 911 A.D and one of the oldest and most sacred sites in northern Thailand. The chedi is said to contain the collarbone of Buddha. Le Méridien Chiang Rai Resort, Thailand is located close to the town centre and a short drive from Chiang Rai Airport. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Le Meridien Chiang Rai Hotel Chiang Rai
- Meridien Chiang Rai