Next to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai is the biggest working city in Northern Thailand that offers urban amenities plus a lot of nature. At 390m above sea level, it's nestled on a mountainous terrain with the outdoors and numerous trekking possibilities. It serves as the hub for neighboring small cities like Mae Sai, Chiang Saen and Chiang Khong on the Golden Triangle. It has its regional cuisines like Khao Soi, which has its unique flavor from that of Chiang Mai's.
Chiang Rai Blogs by TheLoneRider
Visiting the Black House of Chiang Rai(Nov 26, 2019) Black House is a rather dark-themed museum consisting of numerous black building structures in a sizable land area. There are a sprinkling of animal bones, skins, rock gardens, wooden carvings and interesting architecture.....more »»
Revisiting Chiang Rai(Nov 26-28, 2019) It has been 3.5 years since I visited Chiang Rai. While doing a visa run to Tachileik, Myanmar, to took a 2-night stay in Chiang Rai before heading back to Chiang Mai. I didn't realize how much I needed that break until I took it...more »»
Exploring Chiang Rai, Thailand(May 11-16, 2016) Next to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai is the biggest city in Northern Thailand that offers urban amenities plus a lot of nature. I've heard many great things about this place that I had to come back to Thailand to experience this place (and Pai). With roughly 6 days, I set about to explore this destination.....more »»
Visiting the White Temple of Chiang Rai (Wat Rong Khun)(May 15, 2016) Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple is Chiang Rai's biggest crowd drawer. Temples are usually gilded in Thailand, or the rest of the Buddhist world for that matter. But an iconoclast artist broke the mold and built a Snow White Buddhist temple 13 kms south of Chiang Rai City. It's the first installment of many. The entire project is set to complete in 2070....more »»
Chiang Rai FYI / Tips
- the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located around the Clock Tower area
- it's not beneath the elites to eat street food (but I suspect that's all over Thailand, not just Chiang Rai)
How to Get to Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai being a big city, nearly all cities and towns connect to it by bus or plane (no trains though).
- if you are dropped-off at the Bus Terminal 2 Station (the new one), you need to take a blue songthaew to the old Bus Station (B15) which is in the heart of the city. If you checked-in near the Clock Tower, chances are, you can just walk it from the old bus station to your hotel. Otherwise, you may have to ride another blue songthaew from the old bus station to your hotel. If you take the tuk-tuk from the new Bus Station, you may be charged something like B170 to be taken to a hotel not walking distance from the old bus station
Things to do, Places to go in Chiang Rai
- Wat Rong Khun - Blue Temple - opened to the public in 2016 after being in disrepair for years, this is the latest color-themed incarnation of Chiang Rai's temple renaissance
- Wat Rong Khun - The White Temple - designed by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the construction commenced in 1997 with 2070 estimated completion date. This is probably Chiang Rai's most visited tourist attraction
- Baan Dam - Black House Museum - a macabre repertoire of Thawan Duchanee, a Chiang Rai artist who expresses his art around the dark side of humanity. 9am - 5pm w/ 12-1pm siesta, free
- Night Bazaar - a night market on foot for clothes, food and tourist merchandise. 2 sound stages for cultural shows and live music. One stage is in Thai while the other stage seems for tourists - cultural dance, English music, etc. Big open spaces for eating and drinking, open until about 11pm
- Saturday Night Walking Street - similar to Night Bazaar with its food stalls and merchandising, but the stalls are lined up on the streets
- Clock Tower - this is an iconic landmark in the heart of Chiang Rai where most of the tourist hotels, restos and recreation areas are clustered. Minor audio and light display at 7,8 and 9pm
- Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) - this is the original spot where the Emerald Buddha was first discovered in 1434 when lightning hit a chedi and revealed the Buddha within. The original Buddha has been moved to several locations through its history and finally rests in Bangkok. What resides in Chiang Rai is a jade replica
- Singha Park - almost 13km2 in size and 450m elevation, the park houses an assortment of entertaining and recreational facilities - rock climbing, zip lining, view point scenery, tour of tea plantation, bike tours, animal park, etc.
- Mae Fah Luang Art and Culture Park - B200 fee, opens 8:30am. Great garden, natural setting, abundant Teak wood carvings on display, quiet, gallery, museum pieces, etc.
Chiang Rai Cost Indexbackpacker places (US$1 = Thai Baht 34.89 = Php 46.95 as of May 3, 2016)
- B50 small bottle of Leo beer at The Night Bazaar (recommended)
- B35 street Roti with banana, egg and chocolate
- B40 papaya salad (Som Tam)
- B30 street hot coffee
- B40 pad thai at The Night Bazaar
- B200 one hour massage
- B50 bicycle rental, 24 hours at Chiang Rai Hotel. Other places charge between B70-B100/day
- B30/k laundry service
- B180 dorm bed in a fan room, shared toilet at Big Butter Hostel (too far away though)
- B14 1.5 liter drinking water at 7-11
- B500 Standard Room for 2 pax, a/c, ensuite bathroom, tv at Suknirand Hotel during low season (B600 for high season)
- B150 dorm bed, a/c in May (low season) at Ti Amo Guest House
General Travel Tips
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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