The northern city of Chiang Rai will appeal to those who like a slower pace of life. It may appear to lack "must-see" attractions, but its temples, hill tribe villages, and excursions into the countryside warrant staying for a few days.
Day 1: Chiang Rai City Sight-Seeing
Get acquainted with the spirit of Chiang Rai by visiting the ancient temples of Wat Phra Keow and Wat Phra Singh. Next, to see the modern face of Buddhism, visit the bizarrely beautiful White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) – there's nothing else like it in all of Thailand. Also worth a visit is the Hilltribe Museum and Education Centre. End the day at the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar where you can sample Thai street foot and shop for handicrafts.
Day 2: Chiang Rai Hill Tribes
Learn more about the unique cultures of northern Thailand like the Karen, Akha and Hmong by visiting one of the hill tribe villages outside of Chiang Rai. As you’ll need transportation and a translator to get the most out of the experience, considering joining a tour which will take you to multiple villages plus nearby natural attractions like waterfalls and hot springs.
Day 3: Day Trips from Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai makes an ideal base for day trips deeper into north Thailand. If you're seeking adventure there are plenty of options including treks around Doi Mae Salong mountain, elephant riding in the jungle, and journeys up the Mae Kok River. History buffs should consider visiting the town of Chiang Saen which is home to ruins of a 14th century Buddhist kingdom.