A visit to Chiang Rai offers up a variety of experiences. Whether you are travelling solo or with your family, there is much to see and do in Thailand’s most northerly province. Visit Chiang Rai’s eclectic temples and museums, explore the scenic countryside, and discover more about the hill-tribe communities who call this region home.
What to see and do in Chiang Rai
Check out our suggestions here for some of the best things to see and do in Chiang Rai. As you can see, there is no shortage of attractions in and around the city with highlights including the elegant ancient temples of Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Phra Singh. By way of contrast, don’t miss the striking contemporary architecture at the White Temple and Blue Temple. Less well-known to tourists, but equally worth a visit are the impressive Wat Huay Pla Klang and colourful Wat Huay Sai Khao.
Enjoy a cycle ride through the open spaces at Singha Park and head to the hills to admire the regal beauty of Mae Fah Luang. The northern outreaches of Chiang Rai province is where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos converge at the Golden Triangle. Two rivers converge here, the Mekong and Ruak River, to form a natural boundary between the three countries. While this area is a popular day trip from Chiang Rai city, try to spend at least a night or two in nearby Chiang Saen to soak up the epic views and sabai sabai lifestyle of this charming riverside town.
Where to stay in Chiang Rai
There are plenty of options in Chiang Rai city centre for budget travellers, but compared to Chiang Mai there is less choice for mid-range and more luxurious accommodation. However, there are some notable exceptions in the form of The Legend and The Riverie by Katathani. And for two of the most memorable places to stay anywhere in Thailand, take a look at the truly amazing Four Seasons Tented Camp or the equally stunning Anantara located nearby in the Golden Triangle area. Immerse yourself in the Chiang Rai countryside and observe elephants in their natural habitat with an unforgettable overnight stay in the unique Anantara Jungle Bubbles.
Food and drink in Chiang Rai
When you’re in Chiang Rai, look out for traditional Northern Thai favourites like sai oua (spicy fermented sausage), khao soi (curry noodles), and khanom jeen nam ngiaw (spicy noodle soup). The Chiang Rai Night Bazaar is an excellent starting point for your food adventures in the city. With live music, an easy-going atmosphere and a pleasant street market, you can spend an enjoyable evening here.
Travel to Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai can be reached by direct flight from Bangkok with services operating from Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and Don Mueang (DMK). Chiang Rai airport (CEI) is officially known as Mae Fah Luang – Chiang Rai International airport and is located just a short 10-minute taxi ride into Chiang Rai city centre.
Chiang Rai is around 3 hours drive away from Chiang Mai with the reliable Green Bus company connecting the two cities with frequent services. Although Chiang Rai can be visited as a day trip from Chiang Mai, it makes for a long day and you will only scratch the surface of what you can see and do here. Try to stay for at least a few nights to appreciate what Chiang Rai has to offer. And if you have time in your itinerary, travel to the nearby provinces of Nan, Phrae or Phayao to enjoy even more of the charms of the northern Lanna region.