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Chiang Rai is a northern province that has a long history. It was originally part of the Yonok Chaiburi Sri Chiang Saen Kingdom established by King Singhnawatkuman whose name has become the name of the kingdom’s capital city.
The area is known as Chiang Saen today. During the age of the Hiranyanakorn Ngen Yang Kingdom, the Mang Rai Dynasty was established with King Lawachakaraj as the first King of this dynasty. The kingdom was located in Doi Tung area by Sai River before being expanded to the Mekong river. Ngen Yang may have been located close to Chiang Saen, or even in the same location. King Lawachakaraj’s children became kings of some of the kingdom’s cities.
During the reign of King Laomeng, the king was married to Princess Aua Ming Chom Muang aka Thep Come Kayai, daughter of King Rung Kaen Chai of Chiang Rung or today’s Xishuangbanna, and had a son, Mangrai, later to become King Mangrai. The age of Chiang Rai began when King Mang Rai ascended the throne in 1259 AD and established Chiang Rai city on the Kok River in 1262 AD. Later, he conquered Chiang Tung and Fang and set his sights on expanding the kingdom even further south to include the prosperous Hariphunchai Kingdom. The King sent Ai Fah to Hariphunchai as a spy and finally conquered the kingdom. Afterwards, he expanded the kingdom to Payao and Bago. He returned to Chiang Rai triumphant with various items gained as tribute, among them the king of Bago’s daughter. He also brought blacksmiths, silversmiths and goldsmiths to Chiang Rai.