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Things to do in Chiang Rai

Things to do in  Chiang Rai

Welcome to Chiang Rai

One of Thailand’s last strongholds of Tai culture, the mountainous region of Chiang Rai—situated just north of the busier, more developed Chiang Mai—provides a cultural escape from the tourist-heavy islands and cities of the south. More than 50 wats (temples) dot the province’s hills, including Wat Rong Khun (White Temple), known for its snowflake-like spires. Take a guided tour of the Chiang Rai Temple Trail to see the most impressive of the bunch, from wooden Wat Phra Singh to Wat Phra Keow and its jade Buddha; visit a hill tribe village; or traverse the borders of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos on a bike or trekking tour of the Golden Triangle.

Top 13 attractions in Chiang Rai

Golden Triangle

The mountainous border regions of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand come together in the exotically named Golden Triangle—a haven of Buddhist architecture, lush forest, and colorful riverfront villages. Located in the Chiang Rai province at Thailand’s northernmost tip, the Golden Triangle is thick with wonders, both natural and man-made.More

White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

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With brilliant white spires, eaves, and bridges that all glitter in the sunshine and reflect in surrounding pools, the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) is Chiang Rai’s signature sight. The building’s surroundings and interior are filled with art inspired by everything fromThe Matrix, to Hello Kitty andKung Fu Panda.More

Chiang Saen

The remnants of Chiang Saen’s former glory—the 7th century capital of the Lanna Kingdom—still lie scattered around the modern town. One of Thailand’s oldest towns, it boasts a strategic location along the Mekong River, serving as a border crossing to Laos and the gateway to the famed Golden Triangle region.More

Choui Fong Tea Plantation

Perched in the highlands near Chiang Rai, the Choui Fong Tea Plantation has been producing some of Thailand’s highest quality teas for decades. Benefitting from the rich soil and climate of the region, the plantation grows a variety of teas that are handpicked and then blended by tea specialists from Taiwan.More

Hall of Opium Museum

Located at the heart of the Golden Triangle—the intersection of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar—the Hall of Opium Museum explores the impact that opium seed has had on the area. Exhibits trace the seed back to its first use 5,000 years ago and raise awareness of current abuse and addiction issues.More

Doi Mae Salong

Amid the rolling peaks of the Daen Lao Rang mountains, Doi Mae Salong is the gateway to some of Northern Thailand’s most scenic landscapes. The village of Mae Salong is known for its rich Chinese heritage, while the surrounding highlands abound with jungle-clad slopes, hillside tea plantations, and ethnic minority villages.More

Mae Sai (Maesai)

Straddling the border of Thailand and Myanmar, the Mae Sai Valley is a lush and mountainous area that serves as a convenient gateway to the Golden Triangle—the intersection of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. The border town of Mae Sai, though not the prettiest in northern Thailand, has plenty of accommodation options, food stalls, and souvenir stalls.More

Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong

According to local legend, the founder of Chiang Mai had a vision for the city on the hill that Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong sits atop. As well as offering panoramic views, the Lanna-style temple is home to a 14th-century golden stupa.More

Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park

Located on the grounds of a former training camp for hill tribe youth, the Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park houses an impressive collection of art and artifacts from the culturally distinct Lanna Kingdom, including many murals and teak pieces. It’s surrounded by a beautiful expanse of parkland full of indigenous plants.More
Oub Kham Museum

Oub Kham Museum

Dedicated to the artifacts of the Lanna Kingdom, the private Oub Kham Museum has a collection that features carved thrones, embroidered costumes, Buddha images, and antique jewelry.More
Mae Kok River

Mae Kok River

Flowing from the Daen Lao Mountains in Myanmar and running for more than 177 miles (285 kilometers before meeting the Mekong River along the Laos border, the Mae Kok River is one of the most important in Northern Thailand. Linking Chiang Rai to the northern villages and borders, it serves an important role for both transport and trade.More
Hilltribe Museum and Education Center

Hilltribe Museum and Education Center

Run by a non-profit organization, Hilltribe Museum contains a wealth of information on Thailand’s hill tribes and the issues that threaten their preservation. All of the major hill tribe cultures, including Karen, Ahka, and Hmong, are represented by information panels and artifacts.More
Akha Hill House

Akha Hill House

Located on the outskirts of Chiang Rai, Akha Hill House is a guesthouse in the hill tribe village of Akha. Though the bungalows are made from natural materials such as mud and bamboo, they still offer creature comforts such as hot showers, fans, and Wi-Fi.More
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Trip ideas

How to Spend 3 Days in Chiang Rai

How to Spend 3 Days in Chiang Rai

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People Also Ask

What is Chiang Rai known for?

Chiang Rai is Thailand’s northernmost city and the gateway to the Golden Triangle (the border of Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos). The city is known for its magnificent temples, most notably the White Temple, and as the starting point for treks into the region’s hills and ethnic villages.

Is Chiang Rai cheaper than Chiang Mai?

Yes, Chiang Rai is generally cheaper than Chiang Mai. While both cities are very cheap to visit by US and European standards, Chiang Rai is a popular hub for budget travelers and backpackers, with more options for low-cost accommodation, food, and tours.

How many days do you need in Chiang Rai?

You can take in Chiang Rai’s sights—including the White Temple and Chiang Rai Night Market—in one day. However, the city’s remote location makes it difficult to visit on a day trip, and we recommend at least three days to explore the Golden Triangle and surrounding hillside villages.

Is Chiang Rai walkable?

Yes, Chiang Rai is small enough to walk between attractions such as the Night Market and Walking Street. However, you’ll need transport to reach the White Temple and other temples. Renting a bike is a popular option, but it’s also easy and cheap to take a tuk-tuk, samlor, or motorbike taxi.

Is Chiang Rai worth visiting?

Yes. Chiang Rai is one of Thailand’s most unique cities and remains largely ‘undiscovered’ by many travelers who prefer the busy hubs of Chiang Mai and Pai. Not only is it a great spot to escape the crowds, but it’s also the starting point for treks to Thailand’s remote hillside villages.

What should I not miss in Chiang Rai?

Chiang Rai’s most memorable attraction is the magnificent White Temple (Wat Rong Khun). Other must-see sights include the Blue Temple (Wat Rong Seur Ten), the forest temple of Wat Phra Kaew, and Chiang Rai Night Market. A bike ride around the temples and a trek to the hillside villages are also popular choices.


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