12 things you can do in Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai in northern Thailand is underestimated. Many travelers move on after just one night. Here I would like to list why you should plan more time for Chiang Rai. Because there is a lot to discover!
1. White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)
The well most famous attraction of Chiang Rai is the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun), which was built by the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. The complex is richly decorated. The untypical white walls symbolize the purity of the Buddha.
As you enter the compound, you can first see the reflection of the temple in the water basins in front of it. That’s pretty cool! From the symbolism of the temple is designed so that you run through hell towards the sky.
Inside the temple is a huge painting with motifs you probably do not expect here. But I do not want to tell you too much yet. You can write in the comments, which surprised you the most!
If you leave the temple complex, make sure to visit the museum, which houses many imposing sculptures and paintings by Chalermchai Kositpipat. This is really worthwhile! When you pass the turnstiles at the exit, you have to walk diagonally across the street to get to the exhibition.
Entry: 50 baht | Opening hours: 08.00 to 17.00, on weekends to 17.30
2. Singha Park
Do you need a change of temples and night markets, then the Singha Park is right for you. In Singha Park you can rent a mountain bike and then drive off the entire system in about two hours. You will discover some things. On the site there is a swan pond, tea plantations and a giraffe and zebra enclosure. In addition, you can try out on a zip line. Many more attractions are currently being set up.
Update 2019: Unfortunately, the prices for the bikes are now significantly increased. Instead of 100 baht per wheel, which we paid then, the price has now increased to 150 baht per hour.
If you do not want to ride a bike, there is also a shuttle service on site. It is also possible to drive into the park with your own car, but most places are not accessible.
Entry: free | Cycles: 150 baht per hour | Opening hours: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
3rd black house
Actually, I can not tell you if I would like to recommend the Black Village (Baan Dam Museum, often translated as Black House). It looks like its counterpart to the White Temple, but the Black Village has emerged independently. Another artist has lived here. On the site are several buildings with various “art objects”.
The artist has used quite a lot of bones, skins and skins of animals. Everywhere the remains of crocodiles and antlers were processed. I can not imagine how many animals were used for this exhibition. I only hope that these animals did not have to die extra for the Black Village.
In places, the exhibits seem like a scary fairytale. Overall, the Black Village has left a disturbing impression on me. You have to know yourself if you want to give this to yourself. But if you are traveling with children, I would avoid the Black Village in your place.
Entry: 80 baht | Opening hours: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
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4. Hill Tribe Museum of Chiang Rai
In the north of Thailand there are several mountain tribes. If you’re dealing with the hill tribes and you do not want to trap the tourist traps, then you should plan a visit to the Hill Tribe Museum in Chiang Rai.
Your visit to the museum begins with a photo demonstration, which ia. is also available in German, and gives you an overview of the mountain tribes in northern Thailand.
In the museum the history and the current situation are explained by the tribes. You can look at various everyday items as well as the clothes of the hill tribes. I was particularly impressed by what the mountain trunks made of bamboo.
Entry: 50 baht | Opening hours: 8.30 am to 6.00 pm, on weekends from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm
5. Wat Huai Pla Kung or 9 Tier Temple
Already on your way to the 9 Tier Temple you will discover what makes the area special: An example 100 meter high Buddha towers over the terrain. But even without this gigantic statue, the Wat Huai Pla Kung would be worth a visit and worth a visit. Spread over nine levels are different Buddha sculptures and the higher you come, the more brilliant the view over the surrounding countryside. You can enjoy the view at the top. Everywhere golden stupas protrude between the green landscape.
Between the 9 Tier Temple and the giant Buddha statue is another temple, which was built during our visit. Therefore, we could not visit this. Also on the big Buddha is still being built. Later it should be possible to climb the statue. Windows are already installed at the back of the Buddha.
Tip for photographers: If you want to take good photos of the imposing Buddha statue, then you should visit the 9 Tier Temple in the morning. Then the front of the statue is illuminated by the sun. In the afternoon you have ugly backlight.
6. Our insider tip: Wat Phra That Chom Sak
We came across this temple by accident. When we drove to the Black House, the police had closed the main road leading north from Chiang Rai. We followed some locals and drove so a diversion. Then we passed this temple, which is surrounded by a teak forest.
Unfortunately, the courtyard is closed to the temple complex. We could, however, take a look through the gate. In front of the gate are two huge golden statues, which we had already discovered from afar. For this sight worth the little detour here. By the way, behind the Wat Phra That Chom Sak (formerly known as Phra That Doi Ban Yang) is a cemetery.
We did not find this temple at Tripadvisor so it’s no surprise we were the only ones at Wat Phra That Chom Sak.
You can drive directly from Wat Phra That Chom Sak to 9 Tier Temple. However, the road leads over very uneven slopes.
7. Other temples in Chiang Rai
As everywhere in Thailand, there are many temples in Chiang Rai. I can not list all of them here, but I’d like to pick some that you can walk from downtown as well.
Wat Phra Kaew (also Wat Phra Kaeo) in the heart of Chiang Rai is best known because of the discovery of the Emerald Buddha in a pagoda. In addition to the temple buildings, you can admire a museum, a chedi and many turtles for free. There will also be a replica of the Emerald Buddha.
According to tradition, the emerald Buddha (Phra Kaew Morakot) was founded in India as early as 234 BC. It is not made of emerald but of jade.
From India he arrived in Sri Lanka. When the emerald Buddha visited the king of today’s Myanmar, he fell into the hands of Cambodia on his return to Sri Lanka. Later, the sanctuary came to Chiang Rai (for 45 years), Lampang (32 years), Chiang Mai (85 years), Laos (225) and finally to Bangkok (since 1778)..
Today, the Emerald Buddha is housed in a temple on the grounds of the Royal Palace and is one of the most important monuments to Thai society.
Right next to our accommodation was the Wat Jed Yot with a walk-in pagoda. Something hidden in the backyard is a very interesting moving van.
Wat Phra Singh is a temple complex with two buildings built in the 14th century.
The place where the Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong was founded by King Mang Rai in 1263 as a spiritual center when Chiang Rai was founded. Next to the temple, there is a meeting hall, a stupa and a memorial erected in 1988 in honor of the former King Mang Rai.
8. Markets in Chiang Rai
As everywhere in Thailand, Chiang Rai also has night markets where you can stock up on souvenirs and familiarize yourself with local delicacies.
Every evening takes place in the city center of night market instead of. It is the smallest market in Chiang Rai and has a large dining area with a stage. We ate supper here several times. I found the Pad Thai in an omelette really good. Apart from that, we also tried some exotic things like grasshoppers and silkworms.
Of the Sunday market is a bit bigger than the night market and here you will also get lots of delicacies and souvenirs. Bina has been delighted with a potato spiral that tastes similar to chips. Unfortunately, we did not find the stand during our second visit to the Sunday market.
The biggest market in Chiang Rai is the Saturday market. In addition to the usual dealers, there are still many craft stalls here. As with the Sunday market, there is a stage where many Thais dance to live music in a circle. A great thing to make living together in the city more pleasant.
Compared to Chiang Mai, we found the markets in Chiang Rai much more original. There are fewer tourists running through the markets here, and even the dealers have not geared their offerings so far to Farangs. Therefore, I recommend you to visit the markets of Chiang Rai, even if you already know other markets in Thailand.
9. Rai Mae Fah Luang Arts and Culture Park
If you’ve had enough of temples and bustle in the Thai cities, then you can come down wonderfully in this park. Hardly any other tourist gets to this quiet patch of earth. The resort is well-maintained, you can see exotic plants, relax by the ponds or check out the huge teak wood museum. In this great facility, you can easily spend two to three hours.
Entry: 200 baht | Opening hours: 8:30 am to 5:30 pm (last admission 4:30 pm)
10. Clock tower of Chiang Rai
If you do some tours in Chiang Rai, you can not miss the Clock Tower. Already by day it is quite impressive how blatantly the golden tower shines. But also in the evening you should look over here, because to match the music, there are around here 19 clock, 20 clock and 21 clock a small light show. Created this masterpiece by the artist who also built the White Temple.
Many of the attractions can also be experienced with a guided tour of Chiang Rai.
11. Trips from Chiang Rai
The sights presented so far are all right in or around Chiang Rai. However, there are some highlights in the surrounding area that you can explore on a day trip. We rented a car from Friday to Sunday to see these sights. A detailed report can be found in our article Adventurous Road Trip through the North of Thailand.
Nevertheless, I would like to pick out two things and call them again because I think they are highly recommended.
The Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is the place where the countries of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet and the river Ruak flows into the Mekong. On the Thai shore in Sop Ruak a big Buddha sits enthroned across the border. Otherwise, the place is nothing unusual.
On the way to the Golden Triangle
Exceptional, however, is the Opium Hall, which is only a few minutes away from the Golden Triangle. This museum tells the story of opium. First you run through a long dark tunnel with frightening figures on the wall. After a short introductory video, you’ll walk through a top-class museum. With much effort, the difficult topic is treated in multimedia shows. After London, the Opium Hall is one of the best museums I have ever seen.
Phu Chi Fa
Phu Chi Fa is a lookout point on the border with Laos. From an elevation, you can look out over the Laos landscape and watch a beautiful sunrise. The later it gets, the more clouds hang over the plane. That’s why you should really be here for sunrise.
The children at the lookout point of Phu Chi Fa watched our drone with great fascination
Discover the sights in Chiang Rai!
As you can see, there are plenty of attractions to discover in Chiang Rai. It is therefore not wrong to spend a few days in Chiang Rai. Most travelers only stay one night or just visit the attractions of Chiang Rai on a day trip from Chiang Mai. If you do that too, you’ll miss interesting sights like the night markets. Therefore, I would try to stay in Chiang Rai for at least two full days and if possible, take the Saturday market with me.
Tours to the attractions in Chiang Rai
Stay overnight in Chiang Rai
Accommodations of the higher price category:
- Mora Boutique Hotel: Large double rooms with bath in a unique boutique hotel with pool, fitness and spa area
- Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort: Noble 5-star hotel with pool in a quiet, riverside location
Accommodations of the middle price category:
- Baan Mai Kradan Hostel: Stylish and very comfortable accommodation with nice double and shared rooms for up to eight people
- Sleepy House: Wonderfully decorated hotel offering free breakfast and modern rooms
- Connect Hostel: Fantastic accommodation in a good location with a large lounge area and super friendly staff
Accommodations of the lower price category:
- Chian Guesthouse: Idyllic, affordable guesthouse with outdoor pool
- Bankullar: Very centrally located accommodation with various double and family rooms
- Sook Jai Guest House: Relaxed hostel with hammocks in the outdoor area, you can stay in one of the double rooms or in the male dorm
You will also find nice accommodations in Chiang Rai with this search mask:
Not for you? Then check AirBnB and get your 30 € discount.
Have you ever been to Chiang Rai? How did you find it compared to other cities in Thailand?
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Hey! Nice that you pass us by. We are Bina & Francis – globetrotters, adventurers and drone freaks. Since January 2015 we travel with camera drone in the luggage around the world. We love to explore our Earth from a new perspective!
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Hey, I’m Francis – globetrotter, blogger and drone pilot. Since January 2015 I travel around the world with Bina. Always in the luggage is a camera drone, with which we capture the most beautiful places from the air. On our blog we share with you the best tips for your next trip. Do you still have questions about this article? Then write us in the comments!
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Very cool pictures
Chiang Rai is one of my favorite cities in Thailand. The whistle is also the most impressive thing I have seen in Thailand …
I also like the nightlife in Chiang Rai with the many Thai clubs Clubbing in Thai: D
An entertaining blog with helpful information! Thank you!!
We are just in Chiang Rai and can add that the White Temple costs 50 baht per person and the Black House 80 baht. Both places are very impressive!
All the best to you!
Thank you for your supplement. Did you really have to pay admission at both attractions? I’m pretty sure we got in there for free. That would amaze me a lot.
Thank you and all the best to you! Francis
Can confirm the entrance fee of 50 baht for the White Temple. Were there today. Had previously heard that it was free. But the exhibition opposite is still free.
That you have to pay something, the equivalent of about 1.60 euros, is probably due to the earthquake a few years ago. The temple was stupidly near the epicenter. Strength according to Richter scale about 6.3. The temple looked pretty tattered afterwards and was partially closed off due to collapse. Of course there are costs.
Thanks for the information. Have updated the entrance fees in the post. Greetings, Francis
Hello you two,
In Chiang Rai we rented two scooters and explored the area on our own. On the way from the 9 Tier Temple to the Black House, our cell phone randomly passed us by the Wat Phra That Chom Sak. But we were luckier than you and the temple was not locked. At first, we thought that all the equipment was completely alone. It was only on the way back to our scooters that we met a monk, who apparently also was alone here. For me, this was definitely one of the most fascinating places in Thailand. This silence and tranquility was just awesome.
Hello, it’s nice to see the other people give the beauty of Chiang Rai so beautiful again. A little insider tip The best view of the city and the region from the buffalo temple in the city on a mountain is not easy to find. Still a small correction It is called black village not house as it is called in Thai Ban Daam and Ban is the village is often translated incorrectly.
Greetings from dr province Chiang Rai
Daniel & Dokmai
So if I’m not mistaken, the hottest thing about Chiang Rai was the boat trip up the Kok River. As you bang with such a typical long boat on rapids, between sandbanks and dry ground uphill. This goes past a.Park, which can also be approached by the car, until the water level is too low. But then you are already very far in the nature reserve. the trip was not cheap, but we were two and it was a lot of fun. What is also worth seeing are the tea plantations in the mountains of Chiang Rai. Great views, good tea. Also the approach has it, serpentines. Then there is a Lana village, where even, for demonstration, a poppy, even the opium version maintained and cherished. The whole thing is of course not to be found on any main street. Right in the middle of the jUNGLE. But great photo opportunities, especially in the morning or evening. Mountains near and far. Furthermore, it is also interesting to visit the hot springs, in the middle of the jungle. But you should ask locals where they are exactly. I’ve done some with the Honda Click, it has always been an experience.
Whether every temple has to be visited, whether white or golden, everyone has to decide for themselves, for me they are somehow the same. But the environment is not the same.
Thanks for your tips – that sounds like a lot of action! We always find nature terrific. But the temples in and around Chiang Rai are already very different. But of course everyone has to decide for themselves what they want to experience
Hi! Thanks for the tips However, the section to Singha Park would urgently need an update. We were a little disappointed, because the bikes cost 150 baht / hour! If you look at the park and maybe want to drink something somewhere (2-3 hours), you pay for thäiländische conditions half a fortune (which of course we have not done). We are then in the park with our own car, but unfortunately you can not get to most places (such as the giraffes) and is only stopped and referred to the completely overpriced bike rental or the tourist buses. Fact: Unfortunately, not really worth it … we are out of the park after a cup of coffee
Oh, we are sorry! Unfortunately, we did not know anything about this development. We will incorporate the information in our article.
Thanks for the current information and best regards,
Huhu. The White Temple does not open until 8 o’clock;)
Thank you for the hint! With us it was still so, that the gallery opened only from eight o’clock. The temple could however already from 6.30 clock. I changed it directly.
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