The sleepy village of Chiang Saen on the banks of the Mekhong River at the southern point of the Golden Triangle is the remains of the ancient city of Chiang Saen. The village, has been a major trading crossroads since the seventh century. Today again river boats come from China with goods. It was probably part of the kingdom of Yonok, and birthplace of Mengrai, who founded the kingdom of Lanna.
Photo By Brian McMorrow
It was circa 1328 AD that the city you can see today was laid out when King Saen Phu, Mengrai's nephew, relocated the Lanna capital to Chiang Saen, which he named after himself.
During its long history of conflict between the Siamese and Burmese kingdoms, control of Chiang Saen feuded over. Finally, after driving the Burmese completely out of Siam, King Rama I had Chiang Saen leveled in 1804 to remove it as a temptation to the Burmese. It was later reoccupied by descendants of the original citizens in 1881 AD on the orders of Rama V. You still can easily make out the remains of most of the city's walls and moat, as well as several temples and city walls.
Chiang Saen today is an interesting and relaxing place to spend some time, but can be a rushed day trip from Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai.