Chiang Rai is a captivating province in Thailand that has recently gained popularity as a prominent travel destination. Despite being relatively undiscovered in the mainstream tourism scene of Thailand, those who have visited Chiang Rai have raved about its beauty and attractions. The province boasts stunning temples, museums, public gardens, parks, mountain views, and rivers that are sure to leave you mesmerized. If you’re planning a trip to Chiang Rai, here are some of the top things to do in Chiang Rai to add to your itinerary to fully experience all that this incredible destination has to offer.
Visit the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)
Wat Rong Khun, also known as the White Temple, is a major landmark in Chiang Rai that was constructed in 1997. The temple’s exquisite architecture and appearance are truly breathtaking, with white plaster and mirror glass pieces that sparkle brilliantly in the sunlight. The temple embodies the teachings of Buddha and encourages the overcoming of worldly temptations such as greed and temporary desires. Visitors to the temple can also explore other attractions such as the “Gate of Heaven,” the “Golden Building,” and the “Ubosot.”
It is crucial to adhere to the temple’s rules and regulations during your visit. Photography is prohibited inside the main building, or Ubosot, and it is considered disrespectful to touch or take pictures with the monks as they are held in high regard.
By respecting the temple’s guidelines, your experience at the White Temple is sure to be unforgettable.
Address: Phahonyothin Road, Tambon Pa O Don Chai, AmphoeMueang Chiang Rai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand
Timings: Opens daily from 8:00 AM until 6:00 PM.
Entry Fees: 50 THB per person (Children and Adults)
Dress Code: Both men and women need to cover their knees and shoulders. You also have to remove shoes before entering the temple premises.
Explore Baan Dam Museum (the Black House)
One of the interesting things to do in Chiang Rai is to explore the Baan Dam museum aka the Black House. Baan Dam, also known as the Black House, is an exceptional exhibition hall that showcases a blend of contemporary and traditional architectural styles. Unlike religious buildings, this museum functions more as an art gallery, displaying the works of artist Thawan Duchanee, whose pieces often center on somber themes. Visitors can expect to see a vast array of unique exhibits, including crocodile skin, furs, animal bones, and wooden sculptures. It is undoubtedly a destination worth experiencing.
Furthermore, the museum’s surroundings are equally as delightful, with plenty of local vendors selling an assortment of food, fruits, coffee, and other refreshments. A trip to Baan Dam will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on any visitor.
Address: 333 Tambon Nang Lae, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand
Timings: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Entry Fees: 80 THB per person
Marvel at the Blue Temple (Wat Rong Suea Ten)
Another fascinating structure in Chiang Rai is the Wat Rong Suea Ten aka the Blue Temple. As its name suggests, the temple is adorned in a striking blue hue, creating a mesmerizing sight that will leave you in awe. Once inside, you’ll be greeted by a magnificent giant Buddha statue, which holds immense significance to the Thai people. The walls of the temple are adorned with beautiful paintings that depict the life of Buddha, while the ceiling is adorned with ornamental sapphire inlays of gold, adding to the temple’s overall splendor.
What’s particularly unique about the Blue Temple is its entrance, which is unlike any other. It’s an experience in itself and one that you won’t want to miss. If you’re planning a trip to Chiang Rai, make sure to include the Blue Temple in your itinerary and prepare to be blown away by its beauty and grandeur.
Address: 306 Tambon RimKok, AmphoeMueang Chiang Rai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand
Timings: Opens every day from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Entry Fees: FREE entry
Walk around the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar
Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture of Chiang Rai at its lively night bazaar. The bazaar is a must-visit destination, offering a delectable array of street food, souvenir shopping, and live entertainment. Visitors can enjoy traditional Thai dances, singing, theater, and comedy shows performed by local artists. The bazaar is also known for its impressive selection of unique items sourced from local villages and surrounding areas, including paintings, wooden sculptures, and other decorative home items. To make the most of your experience at the market, we recommend arriving early as soon as it opens to explore thoroughly.
Timings: Opens daily at 6:00 PM
How to reach: You can reach the night bazaar via Tuk-Tuk or a songthaew. Simply ask the driver to take you to the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar.
Visit the Hill Tribe Museum and Education Center
The Hill Tribe Museum and Education Center in Chiang Rai is a unique cultural institution that aims to preserve and promote the rich heritage of the region’s hill tribes.
The museum houses a fascinating collection of exhibits that showcase the traditional costumes, handicrafts, musical instruments, and other artifacts of the various hill tribe communities. Visitors can learn about the history, culture, and way of life of these tribes through interactive displays, audio-visual presentations, and guided tours.
In addition to the museum, the education center provides a platform for cultural exchange and learning opportunities. Visitors can participate in workshops, cultural performances, and other activities that offer a deeper understanding of the hill tribe communities.
Overall, the Hill Tribe Museum and Education Center is an excellent destination for anyone interested in learning more about the rich and diverse cultures of northern Thailand’s hill tribes.
Address: Thanalai, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand
Timings: Open from Monday to Friday 09.00 AM – 06.00 PM and Saturday to Sunday 10.00 AM -06.00 PM
Entry Fee: Non-Thai Adult – 50 THB and Non-Thai Child – 50 THB
Activities to enjoy at the Mae Kok River
Mae Kok River, known as the lifeline of Chiang Rai, originates in Myanmar before entering Thailand. The river offers a range of exciting activities for visitors, including a scenic boat ride that provides a unique perspective of the area and an opportunity to appreciate the serene beauty of the river. The river is also famous for its torrents, making it an ideal location for river rafting. Visitors can enjoy a thrilling rafting experience while taking in the picturesque views of the lush green forests that surround the river.
In addition to adventure activities, Mae Kok River is also the perfect place to relax and unwind. Visitors can spend time enjoying the tranquil surroundings, reading a book, or simply basking in the natural beauty of the river.
Overall, Mae Kok River is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the natural wonders of Thailand and indulge in thrilling adventure activities while appreciating the serene beauty of the region.
Relax at the Singha Park (Boon Rawd Farm)
As you step into this park, your eyes will be drawn to the massive golden statue of a lion standing prominently in the center. It represents power, courage, and resilience. In addition to the imposing statue, the park boasts lush orchid gardens, picturesque tea plantations, tranquil lakes, and sprawling meadows. It’s the perfect place for a therapeutic stroll away from the hustle and bustle of city life, allowing you to relax and rejuvenate.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, hop on a bicycle to explore the area, or take a tram ride to enjoy the stunning scenery of this enchanting park. There’s also a zoo to keep the little ones entertained, as well as opportunities for zip lining and rock climbing.
When it’s time to refuel, there are several in-house restaurants and cafes to satisfy your hunger. Admission to the park for strolling is free, making it an affordable destination for a fun-filled day out.
Best Time to visit: November to the end of January. Also visit early morning or after sunset.
Timings: Open daily all around the year.
Rent for Bike: Tandem bike- 150 THB, Mountain bike- 100 THB and Kid’s bike – 50 THB
Tram Ticket – 100 THB for Adults and 50 THB for Children
Khun Korn’s Waterfall
Amongst many amazing things to do in Chiang Rai, visiting Khun Korn’s waterfall is an unmissable activity. One of the finest natural tourist attractions in this region is the waterfall, which can be reached by trekking for approximately 30 minutes on a bamboo trail. It’s important to wear sturdy shoes since the pathway may be slippery. When you finally reach the waterfall, you’ll be astounded by its height. It cascades down from an altitude of 70 meters! Take your time to click some great photos and appreciate the refreshing and natural beauty of this location. We recommend spending at least an hour here to fully unwind and recharge.
Timings: Waterfall sightseeing closes at 4:30 PM
Admission Fees: Free!
Take photos around the Choui Fong Tea plantation
Chiang Rai boasts one of the finest tea plantations in Thailand, the Choui Fong Tea Plantation, which features terraced tea fields. The plantation’s most distinctive feature is a horseshoe-shaped mountain curve with a marsh in the center, making it a popular filming location for dramas and programs. Visitors can see a variety of tea plants, including the famous Assam tea, green tea, oolong tea, and black tea. Additionally, the plantation’s restaurant serves food and desserts made primarily from the plantation’s tea, such as green tea drinks, green tea pastries, and dishes like tea leaf salad, and tea leaf spring rolls. You will be amazed by the tea culture practices of Chiang Rai.
Location: Pa Sang, Mae Chan District, Chiang Rai 57110, Thailand
Timings: 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM
Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park
Mae Fah Luang Park is an awe-inspiring sight, with stunning views that will leave you breathless. The park is lovingly tended by the local villagers and is full of vibrant flowers and plants. For those interested in art, history, and architecture, a visit to the Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park is an absolute must. The museum boasts an impressive collection of art and artifacts from the Lanna Kingdom, showcasing stunning murals and teak pieces. The museum is surrounded by a beautifully maintained park that is home to an array of indigenous plants. It’s worth noting that the park has wheelchair ramps and accessible toilets for visitors’ convenience. Visiting this park is one of the best things to do in Chiang Rai.
Address: 313 Moo 7, Ban Pa Ngiew, Chiang Rai, Thailand
Timings: Tuesday to Sunday 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Ticket Price: 200 THB per person
Take a day trip to the Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is a breathtaking convergence point located in Northern Thailand, where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet. Here, the Ruak River flows into the mighty Mekong River, creating a mesmerizing sight that has attracted tourists from around the world.
If you wish to experience the magic of the Golden Triangle from a unique perspective, consider renting a boat from Sop Raak. This scenic boat ride will take you on a 20-minute journey through the winding waters of the river, allowing you to soak in the stunning views.
Once you arrive at the Golden Triangle marker, you can capture photographs and selfies to your heart’s content. The area is bustling with activity, featuring a variety of restaurants, hotels, opium museums, and souvenir shops. You can also dive deep into the history of this place and gain a comprehensive understanding of its significance. With so much to offer, the Golden Triangle is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the beauty of Northern Thailand.
Best Time to visit: The best time to visit The Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai, Thailand is November to February
Go hiking in Doi Mae Salong (Mountain)
For those seeking to revel in the awe-inspiring beauty of nature and indulge in some solitude, hiking on the Doi Mae Salong Mountain is an absolute must-do. The stunning greenery, clear skies, and crisp fresh air will invigorate your mind, body, and soul, leaving you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Apart from hiking, this area is also home to locally produced tea, which you can savor directly from the tea plantations. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the colorful Mae Salong local market, where you can discover unique souvenirs and trinkets. And if you’re feeling hungry, there are plenty of small restaurants serving up mouth-watering dishes for you to relish.
Embarking on a journey to Doi Mae Salong Mountain promises a feast for the senses, with panoramic vistas of nature and a chance to connect with you in the midst of serene surroundings.
Visit the Wat HuayPla Kung temple
If you’re in Chiang Mai, make sure to visit the enchanting Wat Huai Pla Kung, a must-see destination for tourists. This renowned 9-tiered temple is famous for housing the largest Guan Yin Bodhisattva in Thailand, a sight that is sure to leave you awestruck.
The temple’s unique architectural design is a beautiful blend of Thai and Chinese styles, making it a truly mesmerizing sight to behold. But that’s not all – the temple also offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, allowing you to bask in the beauty of nature while enjoying the peaceful and serene atmosphere.
In addition to its stunning aesthetics, Wat Huai Pla Kung also gives visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in Buddhist traditions and experience a spiritual retreat unlike any other. This unique tourist spot is one of Chiang Rai’s most prized gems, and a must-visit for anyone looking to indulge in the splendor of Thai culture and tradition.
Location: 553, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand
Timings: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Explore the ancient city of Chiang Saen
Nestled in the northernmost part of Chiang Rai province, Chiang Saen is a veritable paradise for history, culture, and nature enthusiasts. As the former capital of the Lanna Kingdom, this charming district is renowned for its rich history and cultural significance, drawing countless visitors each year.
One of the must-visit attractions in Chiang Saen is the Chiang Saen National Museum, which provides fascinating insights into the city’s storied past. Visitors can also marvel at the ancient city walls and explore famous temples such as Wat Pa Sak, Wat Phra That Chom Kitti, and Wat Chedi Luang. But that’s not all – the local markets in Chiang Saen offer a vibrant and colorful glimpse into the daily lives of the locals, making for an unforgettable cultural experience.
Whether you’re a history buff, a culture vulture, or a nature lover, Chiang Saen has something to offer everyone. With its rich heritage and breathtaking natural beauty, this charming district is a destination that’s definitely worth exploring.
Attend the King Mengrai Festival
The King Mengrai Festival is an annual celebration that honors the founder of Chiang Rai city, King Mengrai. While it’s not a religious festival, the event is more akin to a Founder’s Day, paying tribute to the historical significance of the city’s establishment and King Mengrai’s role in protecting it from the Mongol empires.
The festival typically lasts for seven days and is marked by a colorful parade that winds its way through the city’s streets. Visitors are invited to join in the festivities, dancing, playing games, and indulging in local delicacies. It’s a truly authentic Thai experience that’s not to be missed!
Alongside the parades, the festival also features academic exhibitions, cultural performances, and exhibition booths showcasing local handicrafts, weaves, and bamboo baskets. It’s an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and learn more about the history and traditions of Chiang Rai.
n short, the King Mengrai Festival is an exciting and vibrant celebration that showcases the best of Chiang Rai’s culture and heritage. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or just looking to experience something new, this festival is sure to delight and entertain.