21 Awesome Things to Do in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in 2023

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There are a stunning variety of issues to see and do in Chiang Rai, a unusual, inventive metropolis in northern Thailand. Near the borders of each Laos and Myanmar, it’s an ideal base for visiting hill tribes and for scenic mountain trekking (probably the most adventurous things to do in Chiang Mai!).

Chiang Rai can be house to an unbelievable variety of lovely temples — from historic jewelled monuments to uncommon up to date artworks.

I stayed in Chiang Rai for over every week throughout my latest trip to Thailand, and I nonetheless didn’t handle to see all the pieces. I believe it’s a tremendous metropolis that deserves to be included on each northern Thailand travel itinerary.

21 Superior Issues to Do in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Ariel view of Chiang Rai city

There are quite a few attention-grabbing issues to do in Chiang Rai. That is positively one of many high places to visit in Thailand.

It’s attainable to go to Chiang Rai for simply a few hours on a day journey from Chiang Mai, which is the larger and better-known metropolis in northern Thailand. It’s a 3-4 hour bus trip from Chiang Mai on winding mountain roads.

Many individuals who go to both come for the day or keep for just one evening, they usually attempt to pack in as many Chiang Rai actions as attainable on a 1-day group tour.

Excursions may be a good suggestion for those who’re brief on time. However for those who’re not, there are such a lot of cool issues to do in Chiang Rai that it’s positively price staying a number of days. Or keep a full week, like I did.

Listed below are my high 21 issues to do in Chiang Rai.

1. Go to the White Temple

The White Temple in Chiang Rai. Visiting is one of the best things to do in Chiang Rai

The epic White Temple, also referred to as Wat Rong Khun, needed to be first on the checklist. It’s positively probably the most well-known issues to do in Chiang Rai, and on this case, its iconic standing is deserved.

The White Temple is a sparkling-white fashionable temple with an enormous variety of surreal touches. It’s a genuinely breathtaking sight, and I used to be shocked by simply how a lot I cherished it.

The White Temple was designed by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. Other than the well-known temple itself, there are different buildings and attention-grabbing objects you possibly can stroll round, plus a gallery of bizarre work by the identical artist. It’s truly a piece in progress, with surrounding buildings nonetheless being constructed.

You might simply spend a few hours taking within the small, stunning particulars that make up this lovely temple complicated — comparable to probably the most lovely and disturbing No Smoking signal I’ve ever seen, or Keanu Reeves in his Matrix outfit painted onto the wall contained in the temple.

I’ve learn quite a lot of adverse feedback concerning the White Temple. The most important criticism is that this well-known temple has develop into too crowded and touristy, which is true, however it’s nonetheless among the best Chiang Rai points of interest.

You’ll have to barter the crowds and look ahead to a niche within the hordes of vacationers crowding each inch of the temple to snap the right picture.

The White Temple is unquestionably nonetheless price visiting, regardless of the variety of vacationers. You possibly can keep away from a number of the worst occasions by visiting early within the day. Lots of people go to later within the day on a day trip from Chiang Mai. So for those who keep in a single day in Chiang Rai and make it to the temple very first thing within the morning you’ll have the most effective probability of getting an ideal expertise.

💵There’s an entrance price of fifty baht ($1.60) for foreigners to go to the White Temple.

✓ It’s necessary to notice that it is a Buddhist temple, so costume accordingly (overlaying shoulders and knees).

📍Deal with: 60 หมู่ที่ 1 Phahonyothin Rd, Pa O Don Chai, Mueang Chiang Rai District. Discover the temple on the map here

🕰 Hours: 8am – 5pm Monday to Friday. Saturday and Sunday 8am – 5:30pm.

2. Discover the Black Home

Black House in Chiang Rai, one of the top things to see

Typically incorrectly referred to as the Black Temple, the Black House is a set of painted wood homes that includes artwork by Thai up to date artists, most notably its designer Thawan Duchanee.

Additionally referred to as the Baan Dam, the Black Home has the same surreal and fashionable vibe because the White Temple. Among the buildings do look very very similar to black temples, however there are a number of different weird buildings dotted round. Some resemble igloos, whereas there’s one big building that appears like a beached submarine.

After the pure glory of the White Temple, I’ve to confess that the Black Home didn’t fairly match up for me, however it was nonetheless an unbelievable Chiang Rai attraction and I positively suggest visiting. However, seeing it straight after the mesmerizing White Temple in all probability didn’t do it any favours. It was additionally extra crowded than the White Temple.

💵The doorway price is 80 baht ($2.50).

📍Deal with: 333​ หมู่ 13 พิพิธภัณฑ์บ้านดำ Nang Lae, อำเภอเมือง Chiang Rai

🕰 Hours: Monday – Sunday 9am – 5pm. 

3. Go to the Blue Temple

The Blue Temple in Chiang Rai

Visiting the Blue Temple was certainly one of my absolute favorite issues to do in Chiang Rai.

Earlier than visiting Chiang Rai, I’d heard lots concerning the wonders of the White Temple and the Black Home, however for some cause, I’d by no means heard of the Blue Temple.

I’ve completely no thought why, as a result of this unbelievable fashionable temple fully blew me away! It’s vibrantly colored, up to date and kitsch (however in a great way). The within can be painted in extremely brilliant patterns and colors.

Often known as Wat Rong Seua Ten, the temple was solely accomplished in 2016 and I believe that’s why it isn’t as well-known as a number of the extra well-known Chiang Rai points of interest. I’m fairly sure that’s about to vary.

💵 Free!

📍Deal with: หมู่ที่ 2 306 Maekok Rd, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai

🕰 Hours: Monday – Sunday: 7am to 8pm

4. Have an Iced Drink at Betty Espresso – an ideal pit cease when testing all of the issues to do in Chiang Rai

An iced coffee to go from Betty Coffee

I fell in love with Betty Espresso, a small, unassuming espresso store, due to its nice iced coffees and even higher decor.

The colorful cafe is principally a shrine to the cartoon character Betty Boop. Betty-themed posters and dolls cowl each inch of the house. It’s simply down the highway from Wat Klang Wieng, which makes it an excellent quirky relaxation cease whereas temple hopping. Click here for directions.

Deal with: WR6M+45W, Tambon Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai, 57000, Thailand

5. Dodge Monkeys on the Monkey Temple

Things to do in Chiang Rai: the entrance to the Monkey Temple in Chiang Rai

The monkey temple, also referred to as the Fish Cave Temple or Wat Tham Pla, is protected by a dramatic staircase with 7-headed Nagas (legendary serpents).

It’s completely overrun with monkeys. They’re truly fairly menacing and are recognized to leap on unsuspecting vacationers to grab their issues, so go to at your individual danger!

The monkey cave is a brief drive from Chiang Rai and also you’ll want a automotive or scooter to go to. I didn’t hire a motorcycle in Chiang Rai however there are a number of motorbike rental outlets close to the central clock tower.

The fee is determined by the kind of bike you’re in search of. Sometimes it’s about 200 baht ($6 USD) per day. Though loads of travellers trip scooters and motorbikes in Thailand, remember that visitors may be extraordinarily hectic. Should you’re in an accident your travel insurance might not cowl you for those who don’t have a motorcycle license.

Alternatively, you possibly can negotiate a value for a return journey with a automotive or motorcycle taxi driver, or be a part of a bunch tour – extra on this under.

💵 Free entrance.

Deal with: ถ้ำลิง วัด ถ้ำปลา Pong Ngam, Mae Sai District, Chiang Rai, 57130, Thailand

See Additionally: Cost of Living in Thailand – A Information for Expats, Travellers & Digital Nomads

6. Feast on Thai Treats on the Night time Market

Eating Thai food in Chiang Rai is one of the best things to do in Chiang Rai

The Chiang Rai evening market isn’t the largest I’ve seen, however there are many unbelievable meals stalls serving up northern Thai specialities.

One in all my favorites is Khao Soi, a completely scrumptious curried noodle dish with a particular flavour you possibly can’t discover wherever else. This is among the top foods in Thailand.

The evening market in Chiang Rai is quieter and extra enjoyable than some other Thai evening market I’ve skilled (and I’ve been to so much!) so it is a great spot for stocking up on souvenirs. And naturally, a go to right here is among the greatest issues to do in Chiang Rai for foodies.

📍 Deal with: Thanalai, Tambon Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai

🕰 Hours: Saturday from 4:30pm to 12:30am

7. Go Temple Hopping in Chiang Rai’s City Centre

Chiang Rai town

Whereas the well-known fashionable temples are on Chiang Rai’s outskirts, the outdated metropolis itself can be house to numerous spectacular older temples, a few of that are well-known in their very own proper and have a much more sacred place in Thai historical past than the surrealist up to date upstarts talked about above.

If temple hopping is your factor, you possibly can spend hours strolling by Chiang Rai’s metropolis centre, taking in some unbelievable structure. Two of my favourites are Wat Klang Wieng and Wat Ming Meuang, a Thirteenth-century temple lined in iridescent crystals, and Wat Phra Singh with its spectacular golden spires.

8. Go to Wat Phra Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew - one of the top things to do in chiang rai thailand

Wat Phra Kaew might be probably the most well-known historic temple in Chiang Rai. This lovely however small temple as soon as housed the revered Emerald Buddha, which is now within the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Legend has it that the Emerald Buddha was hidden in a chedi (dome-shaped shrine) and was found after the chedi was struck by lightning. Though the statue has been moved to Bangkok, you possibly can see a duplicate in Wat Phra Kaew in Chiang Rai.

📍 Deal with: 19 หมู่ที่ 1 Trairat Rd, Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District

9. Watch the Clock Tower Gentle Present

Visiting the Chiang Rai Clock Tower is one of the top things to do in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai’s ornate clock tower was designed by the identical artist who created the well-known White Temple. It’s set in a busy and not-very-attractive visitors intersection.

Though it’s intricate and spectacular so far as clock towers go, I wasn’t blown away after I first noticed it, surrounded by honking visitors below a cloudy sky.

That stated, after darkish the clock tower turns into the location of a vibrant mild present, flashing completely different colors in time to music. It feels as if the entire city (and definitely all the vacationers) end up to look at the spectacle, and it’s truly a enjoyable expertise. This is among the hottest issues to do in Chiang Mai when the solar goes down.

📍Deal with: Suk Sathit, Tambon Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District 

✓ I like to recommend having a snack or drink at one of many eating places or cafes that line the streets on this space. A number of have outside tables with entrance row seats.

🕰 Hours: Each day at 7pm, 8pm and 9pm.

See Additionally: Mae Hong Son Loop – A Information for Travellers

10. Have a Drink at Cat Bar

Pool table at the Chiang Rai Cat Bar

The Cat Bar is an effective quaint dive bar, with a pool desk, low lighting and rock tunes.

Chiang Rai isn’t an enormous get together city — actually, I discovered it fairly quiet, regardless that I visited in January, in peak vacationer season. Even so, there was an ideal vibe at Cat Bar. Click here for directions.

Deal with: WR4J+JH3, Thanon Baanpa Pragarn Street, Tambon Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai, 57000, Thailand

11. Go to the Northernmost Level of Thailand

The sign at the northernmost point of Thailand

Thailand’s northernmost level is only a brief 20-mile drive from Chiang Rai. You possibly can truly go to this spot — it’s marked with an ornate signal subsequent to the Myanmar border.

There’s a bridge becoming a member of the 2 international locations and you may watch folks crossing into Myanmar. There are additionally numerous eating places and outlets promoting jewelry and ornaments made (allegedly) from Myanmar jade.

12. Go to the Tree Prime Journey Park

Tree top hike in Chiang Rai

The Doi Tung Tree Prime Stroll and Zipline is the place to take a treetop cover stroll 30 metres above the bottom. It has rope bridges, swings and big ziplines, all in lovely pure environment.

It’s a part of the big Mae Fah Luang Backyard, which is stuffed with tropical flowers. I actually loved strolling across the backyard in spite of everything the thrill of the ropes and ziplines.

The backyard is within the northern a part of the Chiang Rai area, close to the border with Myanmar, so it’s an ideal attraction to pair with the subsequent few issues to do in Chiang Rai.

📍 Deal with: Huai Khrai, Mae Sai District, Chiang Rai 

💵 Tickets price 150 Thai baht (round $4.50 USD) for each adults and kids.

13. Survey Three Nations from the Golden Triangle

The Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai is one of top places to visit in Chiang Rai

The Golden Triangle is on the confluence of the Mekong and Ruak rivers, although it’s higher often known as the spot the place Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet.

You possibly can stand on a balcony excessive on a hilltop, searching at breathtaking views of the rivers and land under.

Down under the lookout level is a huge golden Buddha statue overlooking the Mekong River, and an historic ruined temple is up the hill above it.

The Golden Triangle is round 50km from Chiang Rai, and there are a number of different locations of curiosity within the neighborhood, so it’s a well-liked cease on a day trip taking in the most effective issues to do in and round Chiang Rai. 

See Additionally: Things to Do in Koh Tao – Prime 21 Issues You Don’t Wish to Miss

14. Be taught About Opium’s Turbulent Historical past on the Corridor of Opium Museum

Exhibit of pipes at the Hall of Opium

Positioned subsequent to the Golden Triangle, the Hall of Opium is a small museum with an exhibition concerning the opium commerce.

The Golden Triangle space was traditionally recognized for poppy cultivation and opium commerce and smuggling, and the Corridor of Opium traces this historical past, together with the commerce’s sick results on the area.

📍 Deal with: Wiang, Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai

🕰 Hours: 8:30am – 5pm, Monday – Saturday

💵 200 baht ($6.40)

15. Go to a Hill Tribe Village

hill tribe thailand

Hill tribe villages are discovered everywhere in the hills and mountains surrounding Chiang Rai. The folks in these villages are sometimes a part of nomadic tribes from exterior Thailand and embrace the well-known “lengthy neck” Karen hilltop tribes. These teams traditionally got here to Thailand from Myanmar, and the ladies might put on brass rings round their necks.

For my part, for those who resolve to go to a hill tribe village, it’s necessary to rigorously take into account the expertise you’re reserving and ensure it’s moral. Among the hill tribe visits, particularly these included as an “attraction” on low-cost whistle-stop day journeys, could possibly be seen as exploitative.

A superb, non-disruptive possibility is to keep away from a bunch tour and go together with only a information. On this personal tour you’ll go to a number of small cities within the Golden Triangle and the Akha hill tribe. It additionally makes a cease on the Corridor of Opium. It’s an effective way to get off the overwhelmed path in northern Thailand.

16. Go Mountain Trekking (probably the most adventurous issues to do in Chiang Rai)

Forests and hills of Lum Nam Kok National Park

Chiang Rai is among the most well-known areas of Thailand for trekking, and plenty of routes take within the forests, waterfalls and rivers of the Lum Nam Kok National Park. Most treks take no less than a few days to finish and contain a country homestay in a hilltop village.

It’s straightforward to e book day treks or multi-night treks with in a single day homestays by a number of of the journey companies that line the central vacationer streets of Chiang Rai. Sadly, although, a number of the packages embrace elephant driving, so verify this earlier than you e book. 

Observe: Goats On The Street doesn’t condone animal tourism or any actions to do with animals in captivity. Do your half to be a responsible traveller and say “no” to elephant driving. 

An alternative choice is to e book a trekking tour on-line. On this tour, you’ll hike 15 kilometres within the jungle, seeing waterfalls, scorching springs, and a tea plantation. You’ll even have a scrumptious lunch cooked in bamboo.

Travellers additionally extremely suggest Lanna Trek. The fee for a 2-day, 1-night trek is 2,800 Thai baht ($84 USD) per individual for teams of 2-3 folks. A personal tour prices extra and larger teams are barely cheaper.

17. Get Near Nature at Singha Park

Singha park in Chiang Rai

Singha Park is a picturesque park within the Chiang Rai countryside, a number of elements of that are a working farm.

It’s owned by the Singha Beer firm, however the focus is on nature and sustainability, not consuming beer. There are strolling and biking routes, tea plantations, fruit orchards, ziplines and an journey rope course.

There’s restaurant too, which I spent some time in, enjoyable in spite of everything of these actions. Click here for directions.

Deal with: 99 Moo 1, Mae Korn, Amphoe Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai, 57000, Thailand

18. Go Stalactite-Recognizing on the Chiang Dao Cave

Cave in Chiang Mai

Chiang Dao Cave is a few hours’ drive from Chiang Rai, however it’s nonetheless shut sufficient for a simple day journey.

The primary attraction is the mountain of Doi Chiang Dao, with Chiang Dao Cave at its base. One of many deepest limestone caves in Thailand, the Chiang Dao Cave options stalactites and crystal formations.

📍 Deal with: 273 หมู่ 5 Chiang Dao, Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai 

💵 Entrance to the caves prices 40 Thai baht ($1.20 USD) however for the reason that caves are huge and poorly lit, you’ll in all probability want to rent an area information and hire a flashlight to correctly discover them, which shall be one other 150-200 baht ($4.50-6).

Deal with: 273 หมู่ 5 Chiang Dao, Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai, 50170, Thailand

19. Go Chasing Waterfalls

khun korn waterfall chiang mai

At 70 metres, the Khun Korn Waterfall is the very best waterfall within the area. Swimming below its highly effective water is among the greatest issues to do in Chiang Rai. I spent what felt like hours within the water there.

It’s round a 30-minute stroll by a forest to get to the bottom of the waterfall, and you may swim while you get there. Be sure to carry snug strolling footwear and swimming garments, plus waterproof gear on your cellphone and digicam to guard them from the spray.

Deal with: Freeway 1208, Mae Kon, Mueang Chiang Rai, 57000, Thailand

20. Take a Dip in a Sizzling Spring

Rocks and water in Fang Hot Spring National Park

The Chiang Rai area is house to numerous pure scorching springs set in lovely scenic environment. Take a look at Huay Mak Lium Hot Spring, Pong Phra Bat Hot Spring and Fang Hot Spring (though this one is a couple of 2-hour drive from Chiang Rai).

Soaking in a scorching spring is unquestionably one of many high issues to do in Chiang Rai throughout the cooler winter months. Entry prices from round 20-50 baht ($0.60 – $1.50) relying on the spring.

21. Take the Gradual Boat to Laos

Boat to Laos on the Mekong River

Okay, so maybe this isn’t precisely among the best issues to do in Chiang Rai, however the metropolis is the jumping-off level for travelling by land or boat from northern Thailand to Laos.

To expertise the gradual boat to Luang Prabang from Thailand, you first must take a bus from Chiang Rai to the border, then catch a ship that sails alongside the Mekong River and finally takes you to Luang Prabang. The journey takes two days, together with an in a single day keep on the midway level.

You possibly can e book a journey bundle by a journey company in Chiang Rai, a few of which embrace the bus journey to the border and an in a single day keep in Chiang Khong (the Thai border city), in addition to the boat cruise.

Alternatively, you possibly can take a bus to Chiang Khong your self, cross the border into Laos and purchase tickets for the boat journey there. That is the cheaper however much less easy possibility. Mekong Smile Cruise provides a bundle together with pick-up from Chiang Rai, lodge and a cease on the Pak Ou Caves for 200 USD. Be taught extra concerning the journey in this post

See and Do The whole lot When You’re Brief on Time

One of the best things to do in Chiang Rai is to visit a market

Lots of people who go to Chiang Rai keep just for a few days. Although I stayed for longer than that, I used to be nonetheless overwhelmed by the sheer variety of issues to do in Chiang Rai.

I wasn’t positive how I may match all the pieces in, particularly since nearly all the greatest Chiang Rai points of interest are fairly far-flung. The White Temple, Blue Temple and Black Home are all on the outskirts of Chiang Rai, and a lot of the different points of interest are even farther away.

If you wish to journey independently, it’s fully attainable to see all the greatest Chiang Rai points of interest by yourself. You possibly can catch a bus to a number of the nearer sights such because the White Temple, rent a driver for a day, or trip a scooter.

However since the most effective issues to do in Chiang Rai cowl such a large space, for those who actually wish to do all of it in simply a few days, that is one vacation spot the place joining a group tour actually does make sense.

Other than hill tribe trekking and visiting a homestay within the mountains, which might take a number of days and must be organized individually, a lot of the different Chiang Rai points of interest are straightforward to see as a part of a (very busy!) day journey. Should you select to e book a day tour with a bunch in a shared minibus, that is additionally the most cost effective option to get round Chiang Rai and see its important sights in a short while.

Whenever you stroll down Chiang Rai’s important streets, you’ll see quite a few journey companies providing day journeys, every cramming a completely loopy variety of points of interest into sooner or later. These whistle-stop excursions are very easy to seek out and e book, and are an ideal worth. A lot of the ones I noticed included transport, choose up and drop off at your lodge, plus lunch. All of them price round 1000 baht ($30).

Take note of the excursions for Chiang Rai actions you e book to make sure you get an expertise you’re snug with. Some journey companies in Chiang Rai don’t method the excursions they supply ethically — such because the hill tribe go to the place persons are handled very very similar to animals in a zoo. And sadly, many firms nonetheless supply elephant rides as nicely.

That stated, general I had an unbelievable time and will certainly return to expertise extra of the superb issues to do in Chiang Rai.

Get to Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai has an international airport with flights from all the key home airways. There are common flights from Bangkok, Phuket, and plenty of extra locations.

In any other case, you’ll take a bus to get to Chiang Rai. From Chiang Mai it’s about 3.5 hours and from Bangkok the journey takes about 13 hours.

There’s no prepare to Chiang Rai, however there’s a prepare from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, and from there you possibly can take a bus onward to Chiang Rai.

To Luang Prabang in Laos, you’ll take buses and boats, first to the border city Chiang Khong in Thailand or Huay Xai in Laos, the place there are many boats ready. The journey takes two days.

A superb web site for checking bus and prepare schedules in Thailand and the remainder of Asia is 123go.asia.

FAQs About What to Do in Chiang Rai

Nonetheless have a query about all the good Chiang Rai actions? Listed below are solutions to some ceaselessly requested questions on what to do in Chiang Rai.

Is it price visiting Chiang Rai?

I believe Chiang Rai is unquestionably price visiting. I stayed for every week! Some folks come for under sooner or later, however there are such a lot of issues to do in Chiang Rai that the town deserves extra time.

What’s Chiang Rai recognized for?

Chiang Rai is understood for its temples, and two of probably the most well-known are named after colours: the White Temple and the Blue Temple. Chiang Rai can be recognized for being Thailand’s gateway to the Golden Triangle and the various hill tribes in close by villages.

What is best, Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai?

Each are good, and for those who go to Chiang Rai, you’ll in all probability find yourself visiting Chiang Mai anyway. To check them, merely put, Chiang Mai has extra cultural points of interest (temples, historical past, meals), and Chiang Rai has extra pure points of interest (with loads of tradition as nicely).

How do you spend a day in Chiang Rai?

I’d recommend a mixture of all the most effective Chiang Rai points of interest: go to a temple or two, go to scorching springs or a cave, make a visit north to the Golden Triangle, and finish the day with a drink on the Cat Bar.

What number of days in Chiang Rai is sufficient?

I spent every week and cherished each minute of it. Should you don’t have that a lot time, nevertheless, you possibly can see so much in two days.

Now You Know What to Do in Chiang Rai!

For me, probably the most thrilling half about visiting Chiang Rai was the town’s inventive spirit — the truth that in such a small metropolis, so many unbelievable up to date temples have sprung up in just some years.

I particularly loved the way in which these surreal artworks stood subsequent to superb historic monuments. Be sure to additionally expertise extra of the area’s pure magnificence with some waterfall hopping and hill treks! For such a small place, there are quite a few enjoyable issues to do in Chiang Rai. Joyful travels!

Observe: Photos on this article are supplied by Shutterstock, a web site for sourcing royalty-free photographs and movies.

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