Things to do and see in Chiang Rai Thailand

Rate this post

An ancient capital at the time of the Mangrai dynasty, Chiang Rai hides temples and monuments that will impress anyone. Enveloped in a jungle that is home to unique local wildlife, Chiang Rai is a destination that combines stunning natural scenery with a wealth of culture. Read on to discover all there is to see in Chiang Rai.

As you may know, Passporter helps you create your travel itineraries quickly and easily. You can also draw inspiration from the experiences of other travellers and choose the places that interest you most and add them to your route.

Things to do in Chiang Rai

Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple to see in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai has multiple temples and one of the most important temples you have to see on your trip to Chiang Rai is the temple of Wat Rong Khun.

This temple, which began construction in 1997, is particularly striking not only for its pristine white façade, but also for elements that set it apart from others in Thailand. In fact, it is the only one in the country to have a “meeting hall”, which is decorated with white tones and crystals.

The uniqueness of this temple does not end there, as it also combines different influences in its construction, including Hinduism and Buddhism, but also other non-religious elements that the artist behind the design of the temple decided to include.

The opening hours are Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm. The price is around 50 baht (1.30€)

Despite being unfinished, this temple has to be on your list of things to see in Chiang Rai, as well as the following unique sites you’ll see below.

The Monument of King Mangrai

Rising as an imposing bronze sculpture, accompanied by three gilded figures on its back, this statue represents the head of the Mangrai dynasty and founder of the city of Chiang Rai: King Mangrai.

It is said that he was born in the year 1238 and died at the age of 72. This sculpture serves as a memorial to a very important figure in the country’s history, as during his lifetime he established the Lanna Kingdom.

You can find it in one of the city’s squares and it is open to the public throughout the day, so we recommend that you stop to see this Chiang Rai monument.

The Blue Temple

Following on from our list of stunning temples to see throughout Chiang Rai, we find the Blue Temple or also called Wat Rong Suea Te.

The most curious thing is that it is a relatively new temple: its construction was completed in 2016, on the remains of an old temple that was abandoned. Since that time, this temple has become one of the most beautiful things to see in Chiang Rai and in all of Thailand.

As you might guess, blue is the main colour in this temple: it adorns the walls and is combined with yellow for contrast, as well as the white of the main Buddha sculptures inside.

The main hall is the most impressive, consisting of multiple columns with engravings, and at the back of it awaits a seated Buddha, in a white that contrasts with the other shades.

As for the entrance fee, it is free and the opening hours are every day from 8:00 to 17:00. Knowing that it is free and with the relevance of this monument, we recommend that you go early.

The temple is located a few kilometres from the centre of Chiang Rai, so an easy way to get there is by taking one of the local buses or by your own private vehicle.

Wat Hay Pla Kung, the Great Buddha of Chiang Rai

The Big buddha in Chiang Rai Thailand
Visit to the Big Buddha, one of the things to do in Chiang Rai, Thailand @Pixabay

Somewhat further away from the centre of Chiang Rai is the Great Buddha. This impressive 25-metre sculpture is the main attraction of the visit, but the complex also consists of a Chinese pagoda and a white temple reminiscent of Wat Rong Khun.

The pagoda consists of nine levels accessed by a staircase guarded by dragon statues. The interior of the small white temple is decorated with beautiful patterns, details and reliefs in pristine white.

The Great Buddha is similar to the Great Buddha of mercy, also portraying its spectacular nature. Moreover, if you want to climb up to his head you can do so thanks to the lift inside.

From the top of the statue there are stunning views, and since it’s the only thing that costs money on the grounds (about 40 baht, or 1 euro approximately) we recommend that you climb up and enjoy the scenery it offers.

The Night Market

This is definitely an experience you must try on your trip to Chiang Rai if you want to learn more about the country’s culture.

Like other cities in Thailand, Chiang Rai has a huge night market offering all kinds of goods: you can sample the local cuisine as well as buy a variety of textiles and accessories.

That’s why, if you decide to visit the city, a stroll through the market at dusk is a very entertaining experience. You can also take the opportunity to dine at one of the many stalls.

Wat Phra Kaew

One of the most revered temples by the locals. Wat Phra Kaew is another must-see on your Chiang Rai sightseeing route.

This temple is much loved because it was once the site of the finding of the Emerald Buddha, a relic that is now in Bangkok. That is why this monument is of great cultural importance to the local people.

And that’s not all: its design is also very moving. Inside you’ll also find a museum with a wealth of artefacts, figurines and a series of explanatory murals, making this a splendid way to learn more about the culture of Chiang Rai and Thailand.

Access to the site is free of charge and is open daily from 7:00h to 19:00h.

What things to do around Chiang Rai

Travel to Chiang Mai, the region’s main city

After visiting beautiful Chiang Rai and delighting in all it has to offer, we recommend a trip to Chiang Mai, the largest city in northern Thailand.

As in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai is much less hectic than Bangkok. But you can still enjoy the spectacular mix of culture and nature that characterises this region.

Visit the main temples of Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Sing, where you’ll find impressive buildings with stunning designs. Or wander around the old town, the centre of the ancient city and surrounded by city walls with gates that are worth a visit on their own.

Getting to the city is fairly straightforward, with many, many companies offering trips from Chiang Rai that cost around 40€.

Discover all of Chiang Mai in our city post

What to see and do in Chiang Rai in 2 days

First Day in Chiang Rai

  • Wat Phrah Kaew
  • Monument to King Mangrai
  • Wat Rong Khun
  • Night Market

Second Day in Chiang Rai

  • The Blue Temple
  • Visit to the Big Buddha

How can I get to Chiang Rai?

The truth is that being a city of such importance, Chiang Rai has its own airport, but if you fly from Spain you will have to make a stopover in Bangkok.

You’ll usually have at least one stopover, which is usually in Bangkok. Another option is to make the journey from Bangkok by bus or train, but bear in mind that the journeys are at least 12 hours, so we recommend you do the whole journey by plane unless you want to spend more time in Bangkok.

Round-trip fares from Spain tend to cost around 600-700€.

Where to stay in Chiang Rai

This destination offers a myriad of accommodation, as in other parts of Thailand, the locals have really adapted to tourism.

For a more luxurious and comfortable experience, check out the The Heritage Chiang Rai, a fantastic hotel with plenty of amenities (including a swimming pool) in a well-connected area. The price is around 30€ per night.

Other more authentic options are guesthouses, such as the Homey Dormy Chiangrai: this is a great option if you want to spend less on your trip and spend your stay in a more austere place. The price per night starts at around €10 per head.

Where to eat in Chiang Rai

One of the best ways to get to know the culture of a place is through its cuisine. The food on offer in Chiang Rai is a real treat for the palate.

We definitely recommend a visit to the Night Market for a taste of all the street food in Chiang Rai. It’s a different approach to its cuisine and one that we think you’ll love.

Besides the street food, we recommend two places that we think stand out from the rest:

  • Barrab Restaurant: A great place to keep trying Thai and Asian food in general. The place is very nice and the prices are very affordable (around €11 per head per meal). Moreover, there are vegetarian and vegan options.
  • Surf and Turf Chiang Rai: If you’re tired of the local food and want something different, go to Surf and Turf. Here the style is Australian, with burgers as the star dish on the menu. You can eat for around 15 to 20€ per head.

Tips for your trip to Chiang Rai

  • The currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht (1 baht = 0.026€).
  • Bring your money with you beforehand, as currency exchanges at airports are usually very expensive.
  • Carry some cash at all times, as not all shops accept credit cards.
  • Be prepared for medical emergencies: travel with insurance.
  • The best time to see Chiang Rai is from December to February, the least rainy period.
  • Try to drink only bottled water.
  • Beware of unlabelled street products.
  • Mosquito repellent is highly recommended.
  • Remember that to enter temples you should be barefoot. Wear trousers or skirts below the knees and clothes that cover the shoulders.
  • Opt for responsible tourism and avoid activities that include the abuse of animals and humans.

How to organise your trip to Chiang Rai Thailand

Register or download the Passporter App and discover all its possibilities.

  • Get inspired by the experiences of other travellers.
  • Create your own itinerary and add the app’s suggestions to it.
  • Add the stops that interest you most, as well as the restaurants and bars where you want to eat (you can use the points of interest listed in this post as a reference).
  • Organise your itinerary by route days according to their location on the map (you can take inspiration from the routes we present in the post)
  • Check the travel budget that the app calculates according to your travel stops, restaurants, and leisure activities.
  • Make the modifications you need and you’ll be all set for your trip.
  • Share your experience. Upload photos of each of the places you have visited on your trip to the app and recommend other travellers what to see in Chiang Rai Thailand.

If you have doubts about how to do it, you can check our post: How to create a travel itinerary in Passporter.

Frequently asked questions about your trip to Chiang Rai

How many days do I need to see Chiang Rai?

We recommend two days if you want to see it at your leisure, but you could see the essentials in one day.

No Comments

    Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: