The Longest Way Home logo
currently traveling for  
Countries visited Portugal | Spain | France | Germany | Poland | Slovakia | Hungary | Romania | Bulgaria | Turkey | Iran | Pakistan | India | Nepal | Tibet | China | The Philippines | Sabah | Singapore | Malaysia (west) | Thailand | Overland travel

Guide to Chiang Rai

Thailand's next break out destination?
| Updated: | Thailand travel guides

My Rating: 2.5  
A city in north Thailand with some interesting things to offer- About - things to do - how to get there - accommodation

About Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is most assuredly still a commercial town. For those trying to find a smaller version of Chiang Mai you'll need to look elsewhere. That doesn't mean Chiang Rai isn't trying. It means it's just not there yet.

For those driving themselves around North Thailand Chiang Rai makes for a good stop over place with quite a few things to do. Trekkers might also be happy here as many guest houses run small scale treks into the surrounding mountains away from the Chiang Mai groups.

Did you know?

Chiang Rai was founded by Phaya Mengrai in 1262 as
part of the Lanna kingdom.

Many of Chiang Rai's main attractions are outside the town center. Renting a motorbike is probably the best way to see them unless you book a day tour through a hotel or travel agency.

Things to do in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai town itself is walkable though not the best on a hot day. Thankfully the north of Thailand is a bit cooler than the south for most of the year. Again, having your own transport (motorbike) is one of the most effective methods of seeing the town.

Visit the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun): Definitely Chiang Rai's most famous and popular attraction. Built by a wealthy Thai artist called Chalermchai Kositpipat it's often crowded so go early! Read more about the White temple.

Hill tribe Museum & Education Center: If you are going trekking this museum is well worth a visit first to understand the surround culture and how much it's changed. Located in the center of the town. 9am-6pm Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm Sat & Sun Admission: 50 Baht.

Wat Phra Kaew / Kaeo: This is Chiang Rai's most important Buddhist Temple. Legend states that lightning hit a chedi here which opened up to reveal an Emerald Buddha statue inside. This statue is now kept at Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok. Admission: free. 9am-5pm.

Clock Tower: If you are wandering around the town streets then you are bound to pass by this landmark. It's not worth going out of the way to see but it does add a little bit of decor to the town.

Wat Phra Sing: Another impressive wat that once again used to have a buddha statue that's now in Chiang Mai. There's a replica now in its place. Located near the town hall. Admission: free. 9am-5pm

Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong: Located overlooking the Kok River in the town this wat is rumored to contain Thailand's oldest holy relic. The relic is said to be contained within one of the Chedi in the compound. Admission: free. 9am-5pm

Baandam Museum (Black House): If you are looking for something away from temples try the artistic black houses at this large museum compound. Animal bones and skins are just park of the decor here. Admission: free. 9am-5pm closes 12pm-1pm. Read more about the Black House.

Go Trekking: Nearly every guest house in Chiang Rai will help you find a trek to your liking. Whether it's to visit caves or mountains it won't be an issue. Most trekking takes place in Doi Tung, Doi Mae Salong and Chiang Khong. Most rates are geared towards two people starting at 2500 baht up to 5000 baht for a two night trek. Bargaining can bring down the prices by quite a bit.

Visit some caves: Lion Hill Cave is located 2km west of Chiang Rai. While not been that deep or cavernous it does offer some great atmosphere as light beams flow through the cave ceilings.

Eat: there's a nice night market every evening in Chiang Rai. Dishes are a little more spicy than in Chiang Mai so do watch out. The main strip of restaurants are on nearby Phahonyothin.

North of Chiang Rai

If you'd like to take some day trips by yourself or on a tour then there are some places worth checking out away from the city.

The Golden Triangle: Were Myanmar, Laos and Thailand all intersect by a river. There's a temple nearby, a boat trip to the intersection and a plethora of souvenirs to buy.

Mae Sai: Fancy a trip to the most northern part of Thailand? This is where you'll find it along with the border to Myanmar (Burma) and a sprawling market of both local produce and souvenirs. You can also overnight here very easily.

Getting there & away

Plane: Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport is located 8km from Chiang Rai town center. AirAsia, Nok Air and Thai Airways all serve this airport. A taxi to the center of the town costs about 220 baht (prices are told to you beforehand.)

Bus: There are two bus terminals in Chiang Rai, an old one (terminal 1) and a new one (Terminal 2). There is a songthaew connecting terminal 1 with terminal 2 for 15 baht.

Terminal 1 is located in the town center. Buses from Chiang Khong, Mae Sai and Green Bus company from Chiang Mai serve here.

Terminal 2 is located 7km outside the town. All other bus services from around Thailand stop and depart from here. Green Bus from Chiang Mai also serves here on it's way to the town center terminal.

Chiang Mai: buses take about 3-3.30 hours. Fares range some 190 baht to 300 baht for VIP seats. Numerous buses depart throughout the day from Terminal 1 & 2.

Bangkok: Buses to from Bangkok (Mo Chit) take between 11-12 hours. Fares range from 690 t0 990 baht for VIP buses. They depart from Terminal 2.

Mae Sai: Buses to the border town of Mae Sai take just over an hour. Fares range from 50 baht. They depart from Terminal 1.

Accommodation in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai has a good selection of accommodation for all budgets. Most of the hotels and guest houses are located in the town center making it easy to get to them. Keep in mind that many of Chiang Rai's attractions are outside the city center.

Anatara Resort Le Patta Chiang Rai Hotel - Everything is catered to a tee in this relatively new and modern hotel. Rooms are spotless with all the little extras included. The staff are very attentive and small pool is a great way to enjoy the day. ★★★★★

+ Top Rated!

+ Pool

+ Location

Chour Palace Hotel Bura Resort - Looking for a romantic hideaway resort in the hills? Bura will do the trick. While a good bit from the town the relaxing villas and waterfalls make it a treat! ★★★★☆

+ Villas

+ Peace

Wangthong Hotel Pankled Villa (Buffalo Hill Guesthouse) - If cozy, relaxing and easy are things you like in guesthouse Pankled is a good choice. The staff are lovely and the villas very private and quiet. The on site restaurant is good enough not to want to eat out. ★★★★★

+ Restaurant 

+ Villas

Piyaporn Pavilion Hotel

De Hug Hotel & Residence - A sleek modern hotel with great value for money rooms. The rooms are all spacious enough for families and the friendly staff make this place a good choice. ★★★★☆

+ Clean

+ Value

Wangthong Hotel The North Hotel - Need a cheapy by the market and old bus station? With clean dorms and privates at rock bottom prices you won't go wrong here. ★★★☆☆

+ Clean 

+ Location

Wangthong Hotel Golden Land Hotel - There's nothing to get too excited about here except the price. The rooms are clean, just don't expect any frills. It's got parking so if you are on a budget it will do for a night.. ★★★☆☆

+ Clean 

+ Cheap


(back to top)

Was this page helpful to you? If so please tell others!

The White Temple in Chiang Rai

The White Temple in Chiang Rai
The White Temple in Chiang Rai - click the photograph to read more about it!

Click a heading to browse my Thailand
travel guides

Getting to Kanchanaburi:
» Weekend train to river Kwai & Kanchanaburi
Things to do in Kanchanaburi
» War Cemetery at Kanchanaburi
Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai:
» Guide to Chiang Rai
» The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)
» Baandam Museum (Black House)
North Thailand (Chiang Rai Province)
» The Golden Triangle
» The Mae Sai Border (Myanmar/Burma)

Practical Information

Before you go:
» Thailand visa information
» Best time to visit Thailand
» Bangkok weather
»Vaccinations & immunizations for Thailand

Malaysia to Thailand overland
Traveling around:
» Getting around Thailand
»Thai language for Travel
Money, ATM's & credit cards in Thailand
Food, culture & shopping in Thailand:
» Thai food
» Culture & etiquette in Thailand
Shopping in Thailand
»The best places in South East Asia to buy electronics (includes Bangkok)

» How to bargain & barter for souvenirs
Living in Thailand
» Jobs in Bangkok
Living, working & volunteering in Thailand
» Doing business in Thailand
» Mobile internet & WIFI in Thailand

Leaving Thailand:
»Thailand to Malaysia overland

One of the best ways to explore Chiang Rai is on a motorbike
Downtown Chiang Rai

Longest Way Hotel Search
click here to get my free email updates, it's easy! Follow me on Twitter! site map | home | travel blog | inspiration | gallery | travel | stories | about | contact | disclaimer |

© copyright 2005 - 2019
The Longest Way Home logo