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Visit Chiang Rai: Top 18 things to do & see

Chiang Rai is situated in Northern Thailand, approximately an hour’s drive from the fabled Golden Triangle, which delineates the boundary between Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand.
If you are thinking of visiting Thailand and are confused, keep to read the list of temples in Chiang Rai to discover more about the unique architecture here. Moreover, we also provide more information about the weather, transportation and a list of hotels and restaurants in Chiang Mai to ensure that you will have the best experience. We promise to make your trip to Chiang Rai the most delightful and unforgettable ever.
What are you waiting for? Let’s see Chiang Rai’s attractions with us right now.

Visit Chiang Rai: Top 18 best things to do & see

What to do in Chiang Rai

  • The best temples in Chiang Rai
  •         White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)
  •          Blue Temple (Wat Rong Suea Ten)
  • Golden Triangle
  • Black House
  • Clock Tower
  • Chiang Rai Night Bazaar
  • Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park
  •          Candlelight Museum
  •          Doi Tung Royal Villa
  •          Mae Fah Luang flower garden
  •          Haw Kham
  • Choui Fong Tea Plantation
  • Phu Chi Fah
  • Khun Korn Waterfall
  • Hill Tribe Villages
  • Singha Park (Boon Rawd Farm)
  • Local Spas and Massage Centers 
  • Hot Springs
  •         Ban Rai Kong Khing hot springs
  •         Pong Phra Bath hot spring

The weather in Chiang Mai

The 5 best hotels in Chiang Rai

  • Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort
  • Tramont Chiang Rai
  • The Legend Chiang Rai (Boutique River Resort & Spa)
  • The Heritage Chiang Rai
  • Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort 

Top 3 restaurants in Chiang Rai

  • Favola Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort
  • Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House, Bistro & Bar
  • Lu Lum Restaurant Chiangrai

How to get Chiang Rai

  • Travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai
  • Travel from Bangkok to Chiang Rai

What to do in Chiang Rai

The best temples in Chiang Rai

The two most famous temples here are definitely the white temple and the blue temple. Let’s explore the special features of these two places. When visiting Thailand, you must definitely take time to go to the temples that have significant religious identities because this country is known as the “land of the Golden Temple.” Particularly in Chiang Rai, temples have highly distinctive architecture, designs, and colors that are also very symbolic.

White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

One of the most iconic and visited sites in Chiang Rai, the White Temple is a contemporary Buddhist temple with stunning architecture. In addition to being one of the most magnificent temples in the world, this location has also come to represent Thailand’s national culture. The renowned temple’s all-white exterior represents the Buddha’s purity. The outstanding difference of this temple is the countless finely sculpted arms reaching out from both sides of the bridge. In addition to representing the profound philosophical ideas of Buddhism. Each aesthetic element has a specific meaning that praises the subject’s purity and his ability to resist temptations such as desire, seduction,and intelligence of people. I make sure that you will find a lot of intriguing stuff in the temple if you take the time to observe it and explore it.

Blue Temple (Wat Rong Suea Ten)

Referring to Chiang Rai is mentioning temples with a special construction style that is not similar to traditional temples. The temple Wat Rong Seur Ten is one of the prides of Chiang Rai city, Thailand displayed splendidly with a dark blue color. This temple, known for its blue color scheme and beautiful artwork, is another unique attraction. The combination of colors and delicately carved details create a mysterious and sacred space. I highly recommend this place to you because it certainly won’t let you down.

Blue Temple in Chiang Rai

Golden Triangle

Chiang Rai is also known as the gateway to the Golden Triangle. Explore the point where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet. This place is still isolated from the outside world, so it partly retains the typical cultural features of the area’s indigenous residents. You can take a boat ride on the Mekong River and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.

Black House

Visiting the Black House is a totally different experience from visits to the White Temple and the Blue Temple since the houses here are black and include artwork made of animal bones and skins, creating an unfathomably wonderful atmosphere. One house displays an entire elephant skeleton, while in another the entire furniture is made from animal bones and skulls. The complex consists of 40 houses, each of which gives visitors a surprise through architecture, art installations and exhibits.

Clock Tower

Located in the heart of Chiang Rai, the striking golden tower is considered one of the city’s identity symbols. This monument is dedicated to King Mengrai (1262 – 1311), the founder of the Lanna Kingdom. In the morning, visitors can admire all the motifs on the Clock Tower with their own eyes, and especially at certain time frames 7, 8, 9 o’clock in the evening the clock tower will light up.

Clock Tower in main road Chiang Rai

Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park

Located near Doi Tung, this park showcases Lanna heritage and art. You’ll find various traditional Thai buildings, sculptures, and artifacts.

Candlelight Museum

The first and only museum in Thailand as well as in the world. Visitors will also be impressed with the romantic atmosphere of the park as well as the candles that are lit to illuminate the entire scene.

Doi Tung Royal Villa

Built in 1990 to celebrate the 90th birthday of Queen Mother Sangwon. The villa consists of 2 wooden floors, a combination of Northern Thai architectural style and Swiss style small wooden villa style.

Mae Fah Luang flower garden

The garden has many different types of flowers and is always in full bloom all year round. Inside the garden, there is also a famous sculpture by artist Misiem Yip-In-Soi in the middle of the garden.

Haw Kham

This is the royal residence – contributed to build by the people of Chiang Rai as the residence of the Queen Mother Sangwon. Today, it is used to store and display a collection of teak art and antiques.

Choui Fong Tea Plantation

Enjoy the lush greenery of this tea plantation while sipping on freshly brewed tea. The plantation offers tours where you can learn about tea production and processing.

Chiang Rai Night Bazaar

Experience local culture and indulge in shopping, dining, and entertainment at this bustling night market. You’ll find handicrafts, clothing, souvenirs, and delicious street food. At Chaing Rai night market, you cannot ignore the food court to experience the cuisine as well as the culture when immersing in the close and friendly atmosphere with the local people. Try staying once in Chiang Rai on weekend night; the city’s night bazaar will undoubtedly delight you.

Phu Chi Fah

What could be better than recording everyone’s favorite moments on a cloud-covered hill? Mount Phu Chi Fa in Chiang Rai is a perfect location to do it. Standing in this location, you can capture the beauty in sight with majestic mountains, ancient trees and the Mekong river running through Laos’ lush forests in the distance. If you’re up for an early morning adventure, consider making the journey to Phu Chi Fah to witness a breathtaking sunrise over the mist-covered mountains and you will realize that it is extremely impressive.

Khun Korn Waterfall

If you are a nature lover and love sports such as hiking, trekking, then I highly recommend going to enjoy Khun Korn waterfall’s beauty. You will have a chance to walk through the forest to see the beauty of Khun Korn Waterfall. This waterfall offers a refreshing retreat and is a great opportunity to see and immerse yourself in the nature of Chiang Rai.

Khun Korn waterfall landscape

Hill Tribe Villages

If you are interested in cultural aspects, then Chiang Rai is an ideal place because it is home to various hill tribe communities, including the Akha, Karen, and Hmong. According to my experience, you should go with hill tribe guides because they can teach and show you about hill tribe culture and way of life first-hand, sharing their knowledge and cultural roots – something that can’t be found in guidebooks or with normal guides.

A long-necked tribe woman is weaving in a Patai village - Highlights of Thailand tour

Singha Park (Boon Rawd Farm)

People frequently envision stunning beaches or Bangkok’s majestic capital when they think of Thailand’s tourist industry. But, the farm park Singha Park in Thailand is also a highly popular tourist destination because of its fresh scenery and many attractive activities not to be missed. Explore a picturesque park with rolling hills, flower fields, and a lake. You can rent bicycles to explore the area or take a guided tram tour. This park not only offers picturesque landscapes but also features a hot spring area where you can soak in natural mineral-rich water. It’s a great place to enjoy the hot springs while surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Remember that Chiang Rai’s beauty lies in its tranquility and unique attractions. Take your time to savor each experience and immerse yourself in the local culture. The best time to visit is during the cooler months, from November to February, when the weather is pleasant and comfortable for exploration.

Hot-air balloon in Singha Park Chiang Rai

Local Spas and Massage Centers

Throughout Chiang Rai, you’ll find various spas and massage centers offering traditional Thai massages and other treatments. These establishments provide a range of massage options to help you unwind and destress. I would be pleasant to suggest you a few places for you to refer to if you have a chance to visit Chiang Rai and experience this massage service.  Arisara Thai Massage Chiang Rai, Monmueang Lanna Massage, Katiliya Mountain Resort & Spa are the best choice.

Hot Springs

Ban Rai Kong Khing hot springs

This is another natural hot spring area where you can find both public and private pools. It’s a serene location surrounded by nature, offering a tranquil environment for relaxation.

Pong Phra Bath hot spring

Located about 40 kilometers from Chiang Rai city center, Pong Phra Bath Hot Spring is a popular spot for both locals and tourists. It features several hot spring pools of varying temperatures, allowing you to experience the therapeutic effects of the natural hot water.

The weather in Chiang Mai

Visitors to Chiang Rai must consider the climatic element because the city is known for its enjoyable activities, outdoor tourism, and numerous hilly routes. The weather in Chiang Rai is divided into 3 periods of the year:

The rainy season (from June to October): This season brings the highest levels of rainfall to Chiang Rai. It’s humid and wet, with frequent rain showers and occasional thunderstorms. Temperatures are a bit cooler, ranging from around 20°C (68°F) in the mornings and evenings to 28°C (82°F) during the day.

The hot season (from March to May): This period is characterized by hot and dry conditions. Temperatures can soar to 30°C (86°F) or higher, making it quite warm. It’s advisable to stay hydrated and seek shade during the hottest parts of the day.

The cool season (from November to February): This is the most popular time to visit Chiang Rai. The weather is relatively cool and pleasant, with average Chiang Rai’s temperatures ranging from around 15°C (59°F) in the mornings and evenings to 25°C (77°F) during the day. It’s considered the dry season, so there’s less rainfall.

Thus, I recommend you to go from November to February, at this time the weather is very comfortable. It’s not too hot and it’s not in the rainy season that’s convenient for you to experience sightseeing and outdoor activities here.
Remember that weather patterns can change from year to year, so it’s a good idea to check a reliable weather forecasting website closer to your intended travel date for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

The 5 best hotels & resorts in Chiang Rai

Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort

The comfortable Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort is located in the heart of Chiang Rai, about 6 km from the Blue Temple. There are full services such as a restaurant, pool bar, fitness center. Especially for families with young children, here they also provide babysitting services to create the most comfortable space for all guests. Le Meridien hotel offers their guests a wonderful travel experience with high-class facilities and attentive service. With a modern spa system, delicious restaurants, professional conference rooms and a beautiful location near famous tourist attractions, Le Meridien is the first choice for memorable vacations.

Tramont Chiang Rai

Tramont Homestay is surrounded by mountains in Chiang Rai, if you want to choose a quiet place to enjoy the feeling of peace, then come here. It takes about an hour to drive here from Chiang Rai. The mountain scenery is pleasant, the air is fresh and the roads are easy to walk. In particular, the dense fog in the morning makes this place look like a wonderland. The interior is in a simple style, looks very clean and comfortable. Here you can soak in the bathtub on the balcony, watching the sunset in the mountains brings a feeling of relaxation and healing, away from the rush of life in big cities.

The Legend Chiang Rai (Boutique River Resort & Spa)

The hotel has a prime location, 5.91 km from Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI), easy to find and close to many public facilities. This hotel is the perfect choice for romantic vacations or couples’ honeymoon. The Legend Chiang Rai Boutique River Resort & Spa is a great choice for you who are looking for a luxurious treat to experience while visiting. The Legend Chiang Rai is a hotel with full facilities like all other high-class hotels and especially they have the most quintessential spa treatments to help relax the spirit and rejuvenate the body.

The Heritage Chiang Rai

With a distance of about 9.54 km from Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI), The Heritage Chiang Rai Hotel and Convention is a great choice for guests to easily travel to many attractions. With just a few minutes of walking, you can reach Central Plaza, the largest shopping center in Chiang Rai. The staff here are extremely friendly and professional, giving you the feeling of experiencing high-class services. Facilities are also very complete, utilities combined with beautiful and elegant decoration style. Let’s come and experience your wonderful journey at The Heritage Chiang Rai.

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort Chiang Rai

Anantara Chiang Rai, which is situated in the center of the Golden Triangle and gives views of mountains in both Myanmar and Laos, features an infinity pool with breath-taking vistas, two dining options, and a spa. Visitors may choose among the resort’s three activities, which include spa treatments, trips to elephant camps, and rural excursions, for each night they stay. Cycling, yoga sessions, and trips in longtail boats along the Mekong River are other leisure pursuits. I think this is also one of the great ideal places for you to unwind and experience.

These are a few of the locations we suggest, but you should also take other things into consideration when picking the perfect hotel and room type for your vacation, like your budget, location, and the number of guests. If you lack experience, there is a brief warning that you should research accommodation availability and make reservations in advance.

Top 3 restaurants in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai preserves many values and ancient beauty of the country, but Chiang Rai still has its own characteristics, in which the highlight is the cuisine with a system of restaurants from popular to popular. luxurious. Here we go to discover the top famous restaurants in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Favola Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort

Favola is a restaurant in Le Meridien Resort in Chiang Rai that is extremely famous for its luxurious and cozy space design. Falova also has a riverside dining area, this area is quite suitable for those who love airy and relaxing space. This is also considered a restaurant suitable for vegetarians. Drinks here are quite famous with wines. The most remarkable thing is that, every Saturday night, Favola organizes a music night for visitors who visit the restaurant.

Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House, Bistro & Bar

House, Bistro & Bar is nestled on the bank of the Kok River, just outside of downtown Chiang Rai. The meal is served with a smile and is organic and locally sourced. Customers may choose from fusion delicacies like pan-fried sea bass and wild mushroom soup as well as foreign options like chili dog and duck eggs benedict. The city center is a 15-minute bicycle ride from Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House.

Lu Lum Restaurant Chiangrai

Lu Lum Restaurant Chiangrai a waterside restaurant that fringes the Kok River on the northern side of the city. Since it is literally located on a boat, you may dine while enjoying the sound of the river and beautiful views of the rising hills covered in jungle to the north. The traditional flavors of Northern Thai cuisine are the main focus of the menus of Lu Lum Restaurant in Chiangrai. Chicken tom yum and cooked beef with chili are standouts. There are additional foods prepared for more daring diners, such as intestinal soup and snakehead broth.

How to get to Chiang Rai

Travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

The distance between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai is 150 km, so to move from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai there are many ways such as by plane, bus, or by renting a private car. Let’s find out together!

By Plane

Although both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai have airports, there are few flights between them. You can fly from other places in Thailand directly to Chiang Rai instead of from Chiang Mai. (The reason is that the distance between the two places is too close, the travel time by plane is longer than other means. Moreover, the fare for this flight is also very expensive compared to using other means).
Currently, there is only one airline, Tiny Kan Air, that has flights from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, but these flights are not held regularly and are also very expensive.

By Bus

If you have a tight budget, using the bus to move from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is also a smart decision because the least expensive ticket costs just around 140 baht. Furthermore, depending on the route you select, buses depart at least once per hour. Depending on when you leave and the flow of traffic, it might take your bus 3, 4, or 5 hours to get to Chiang Rai.

Private Car or Taxi

Car rental is an option if you don’t enjoy using the bus, you go in a group or you prefer more privacy, you can choose to rent a private car. Traveling in a private group like this makes you more comfortable and can enjoy the ride carefree with great views on the road. This option gives you the flexibility to stop at points of interest along the way.

Before travel, I recommend checking the most recent information and options available, as transportation services and routes can change over time. Don’t hesitate to contact Hanoi Voyage immediately for the latest details on transportation options between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. On the other hand, you can also consider the options as I mentioned above when you plan to move from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai.

Travel from Bangkok to Chiang Rai

If you are finding the way to go from Bangkok to Chiang Rai, you have several transportation options available. Here are the common ways to make the journey:

By flight

Often those who choose to travel to Chiang Rai from Bangkok will take a plane due to it is the fastest way. Flight durations are usually around 1.5 to 2 hours, besides the flight routes are frequented with great frequency during the day. You can choose airlines such as: Nok Air, Thai Lion Air or Air Asia … and should book about 1, 2 months in advance to receive the preferential price.

By Bus

There are various bus services connecting Bangkok and Chiang Rai. Buses are available in different classes, including standard, VIP, and sleeper buses. The journey by bus takes longer than flying and can range from approximately 10 to 12 hours, depending on the type of bus and traffic conditions.

Train and Bus combination

Depending on your preferences and schedule, you can mix and match transportation modes. While there isn’t a direct train from Bangkok to Chiang Rai, you can take a train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and then continue by bus or other modes of transportation to Chiang Rai.

I advise you to research the most recent rates, timetables, and availability for your preferred method of transportation before your trip. When choosing, take into account aspects such as travel time, budget, and comfort when making your decision. Booking your transportation in advance is a smart idea, especially during periods of high travel demand.

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