Chiang Rai is ideally situated for discovering Thailand’s Golden Triangle, so three days in the city give you ample time to immerse yourself in local culture and cuisine, and explore the northern highlands. Here’s how.
Mae Sai (Maesai)
Highway 1, Mae Sai, 57130
The highlights of Mae Sai include the hilltop Wat Phra That Doi Wao temple, which affords great views of Loas’ hills and the Doi Tung gardens, and Wat Thampla, known locally as Monkey Cave due to its resident macaques. Mae Sai sometimes features on tours of the Golden Triangle, which most commonly depart from Chiang Rai and cover the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun), the impressive Hall of Opium museum, and Chiang Saen’s ancient Buddhist ruins.
Things to know before you go
- It’s helpful to carry a small amount of US currency in addition to Thai baht.
- A valid passport is required for border crossings into Myanmar.
- Thailand’s northern region is more conservative than Bangkok, the islands, and the beaches down south. Cover your shoulders and avoid wearing swimming attire at religious sites.
How to get there
From Chiang Rai, Mae Sai town is a 1-hour drive, while it takes around 5 hours to arrive there from the Old City of Chiang Mai. Opt for a tour that includes round-trip transfers to avoid the hassle of renting a car.
When to get there
The mountainous region of Chiang Rai is hit hardest by the monsoon season, which occurs between May and November. Avoid visiting during the months of March and April, when humidity is at a peak and burning season sees an influx of pollution from farmers regenerating fields using slash-and-burn methods.
The Switzerland of Thailand
Often overlooked by travelers rushing to tick off the temples of Chiang Rai, nearby Doi Tung is a tranquil mountain town that, due to its landscaped gardens and mountain scenery, has been compared to Switzerland. Highlights include a green tea plantation, a royal villa formerly used by the Thai royal family, and the village of Akha, where you can observe tribal communities go about daily life.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are the nearest attractions to Mae Sai (Maesai)?
What else should I know about attractions in Chiang Rai?
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