Chiang Rai Travel Guide | 7 sights, accommodation and transport

by Steven
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Chiang Rai is located in the north of Thailand and some tourists do go to this city. And others skip it and go back to Bangkok. Shame, what Chiang Rai is a nice city with, let’s say, special sights. So everyone goes to the famous White Temple! But what else is there to do in Chiang Rai? And where is the best place to spend the night? Read it in this mini travel guide about Chiang Rai!

Mini Travel Guide Chiang Rai

Accommodation – Where to stay in Chiang Rai ?

Sightseeing – 7 places of interest in Chiang Rai

Transportation – How to get to Chiang Rai?

Chiang Rai Temples
In the center there are a number of special colorful temples that you can visit

Accommodation – Where to stay in Chiang Rai?

Chiang Rai is a nice town of about 70,000 inhabitants. Depending on what you want to do you can spend 3 full days here. If you only want to see the White Temple then 1 day is enough.
Most people stay close to Bus Terminal 1. You will also find a large night market with delicious food and on some days even performances.

Tip: Ti Amo Chiang Rai Central is a budget accommodation about 500 meters walking distance from Bus Station. It has a cozy communal area, you can borrow bikes for free to explore the city and it has dormitories as well as private rooms.

Looking for accommodation? Click here for hotels or guesthouses in Chiang Rai

Cat Cafe in Chiang Rai
A cat cafe in the center of Chiang Rai

Sightseeing – 7 attractions in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai and surroundings could be explored for a few days. Although there are many special temples in the area, you will find the most important sanctuaries below, which you absolutely must not miss. A short selection of the main attractions of this fascinating city!

1. Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple

Wat Rong Khun Chiang Rai
The White Temple, one of the most bizarre temples in Thailand?

Wat Rong Khun is located 8 kilometers south of the center of Chiang Rai and is one of the most special temples of Thailand. But maybe it’s just an art project? It was designed in 1997 by Chalermchai Kositpipat and it will still take years before the temple is completely finished. Access to the temple is free and from Bus Terminal 1 for about 20 baht can be reached by bus.

2. Wat Rong Suea Ten, or Blue Temple

Wat Rong Suea Ten, the blue temple
The blue temple…

Besides a white temple, Chiang Rai also owns a Blue Temple, or Wat Rong Suea. Maybe less impressive that the White Temple, but also this temple may be there. It is located north of the city center and can be combined with the Black House! The Black House? Yes, indeed! A special museum 8 kilometers north of the city.

3. Baan Dam Museum, or the Black Museum

Baan Dam Museum in Thailand
Special objects in the Baan Dam Museum

Then on to the Black House! This museum, which by the way consists of a lot of different small buildings, is an art project of the by now deceased Thai artist Thawan Duchanee. Part of his work can be admired here. That not everyone was a fan of his art is perhaps understandable if you take a look at the picture below and think about what that might be. In the Baan Dam Museum you will come across more of these works. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and costs 80 baht pp.

Baan Dam Museum Chiang Rai
What does this look like…?

4. Wat Phra Keaw

Wat Phra Keaw Chiang Rai
What Phra Keaw and the Emerald Buddha

This temple dates from the 14th century and was built at the time of the Kingdom of Lanna (1292-1775). In the temple there is a Buddha of Jade, who would have seen the light on this spot in 1434. In 1978 the king upgraded this temple to a royal temple because of its most important historical value. Wat Phra Keaw and the ‘Emerald Buddha’ can be visited for free.

5. Wat Huay Pla Kang

Wat Huay Pla Kang in Thailand
Wat Huay Pla Kang

Another temple? Yes, indeed, because it’s also special. Wat Huay Pla Kang is located about 6 kilometers west of the center of Chiang Rai and consists of a large white statue of the Goddess of Grace, a temple and a kind of pagoda. It is beautifully situated on a hill and from here you have a view of the surroundings of Chiang Rai. A visit to the temple and the pagoda is free of charge. For a climb in the Goddess of Grace you pay a small fee.

6. Hill Tribe Museum & Education Center

Hill Tribe Museum & Education Center Chiang Rai
The small Hill Tribe Museum & Education Center

This small museum north of the bus station gives a glimpse into the life of the different tribes that live around Chiang Rai. In addition, this museum tells the fascinating story of the history of opium and the influence it had on the region. If you would like to make a tour to one of the tribes that live here, like the Karen, this museum gives a good explanation about customs and habits of this tribe.

7. The Golden Triangle, the three-country point

Golden Triangle Sop Ruak Thailand
View from Thailand of the Mekong River and Laos

70 kilometers northeast of Chiang Rai is the Golden Triangle, or tri-county point. This is where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet, separated by the Mekong River. This used to be the heart of the opium trade and is now a popular place among tourists to take a boat trip on the Mekong River. For more information about the opium trade go to the Hall of Opium or the House of Opium. From Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1 you can take the bus to Sop Ruak.

Transportation – How to get to Chiang Rai?

By plane: Mae Fah Luang – Chiang Rai International Airport is the airport of this city. It is located 8 kilometers northeast of the center and is easily accessible by Airport Shuttle Bus or taxi. Although it is an international airport, there are almost only national flights.

Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1 Thailand
Bus Terminal 1: from here buses depart to Chiang Mai, among others

Bus: Chiang Rai has a number of bus stations of which Bus Terminal 1 is located in the city center. The new and modern Bus Terminal 2 is located 7 kilometers south of the center. If you want to continue your trip and sit in the center of the city then Bus Terminal 1 is the perfect solution. From here buses leave for Chiang Mai with probably a stop at Bus Terminal 2.

Next destination?
Continue your trip to Chiang Mai and Pai or to Laos for Luang Prabang!

And what is your opinion about Chiang Rai, Thailand? If you have any more tips and ideas, feel free to leave a message below

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