I took the three hour bus ride from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, from what I remember buses go every hour and cost about 180 baht. The scenery on the way was fantastic with lots of forested mountains.
My plan was to take a look at the golden triangle area (where Thailand, Laos and Burma meet) and visit some of the hill tribes. Unfortunately two things stopped me doing this; firstly I had a bit of a fever for four days; secondly as it was low season there were not many tourists around and all of the trips that I fancied doing would have meant me going alone with a guide and costing about 6000 baht This seemed pretty steep to me, especially when you consider that the average wage in Thailand is around 7500 baht a month (9000 average in Bangkok; 5000 in the provinces).
Anyway I thought seriously about it, and as I was a little ill I visited places in Chiang Rai itself first. One of the places that I visited was the hilltribe centre, here I found out that the Karon long neck tribes, who I would have liked to have seen, were actually native to Burma. A savvy businessman had created a hilltribe village from scratch, imported the girls (who were not allowed to leave the village) and made a fortune from tourists running what can only be described as a human zoo. So if anyone is thinking of visiting the long neck Karon in Thailand you have been warned what to expect, I would not recommend that you see the long necked Karon in Thailand but go to Burma instead and see them in their true setting and not in a place where that they are treated as nothing more than animals.
Lots of Wats to see in Chiang rai, it used to be home of the emerald buddha, as that got carted off to Bangkok, they have recently commissioned a new one.
I have never worked out why some Buddhas are thin whilst others are a tad plump; I think that it may be something to do with the introduction of western food to the region.