Indiana Jones in the ruins of Chiang Saen
Well, not exactly Indiana Jones here but very similar in concept when you explore the small township of Chiang Saen which has over one hundred and thirty ruins of all sorts! The intrepid explorer will have a good time mooching among the ancient stone markers and ancient temple ruins of Wat Jedi Luang ( no not the “Jedi” from Star Wars) and Wat Pa Sak which has seven different ruins among the jungle teak trees. To get to this place, try looking for a tour package to Jedi Luang Temple which should also include the Wat Pa Sak and the Chiang Saen National Museum.
This little town situated near the Mekong River is where you can still see old Chinese Junks that have been restored as well as riverboats from China. This whole area is rich with ruins, carvings and stone gateways and Buddha images that date as far back as 1295. The items all have a touch of Chinese and Burmese influences and are rich with antique findings which are not quite open to the outside world. So if you are one of those treasure hunters who is always looking for some antique or rare find to add to your collection, this is a good place to look. Most of the significant ancient artifacts are considered National Treasures and can only be viewed in museum collections, however the smaller pieces which are open for collectors can still be purchased so fret not, you can still get your fair share of collectables here!
This is also a good place to find some really interesting old ceramics which depict ancient stories in their sculpted surfaces, there are also old paintings, dharma scriptures, restored ancient wood carts, silver and gold ornaments, cowrie shell currency (yes, they still traded with seashells in those days!), a good collection of old musical instruments from the ancient era as well as pre and post opium days, and off course handicrafts.
Next to Chiang Saen city is Chiang Saen Lake which is a good holiday and recreation place for those who would like to indulge in swimming, boating or fishing. You can actually rent some nice villas here if you are thinking of spending a night and you can book accommodations for Chiang Saen Lake from your Thai travel agent in advance. Those into the avian lifestyle and can’t go anywhere without a set of telescopic lenses and powerful binoculars, here is your chance to observe the local bird species along the lake shore and surrounding wilderness. There are bird watching tours for Chiang Saen and Chiang Rai that you can book and the guide will take you to some of the sweetest spots for a very rewarding bird watching tour in Thailand