Despite being smaller than other Thai tourist hotspots, there are a lot of things to do in Chiang Rai. This town is like no other. It has the same beauty and glamour as bigger cities like Bangkok and neighboring Chiang Mai. However, it still remains a very quiet and relaxing place. You may be wondering what the best things to do in Chiang Rai are. After all, despite being so small, this is a town that is growing.
10 Things to Do in Chiang Rai, Thailand You Must Not Miss
10. White Temple
Of all the things to do in Chiang Rai, the White Temple is clearly the most popular. It isn’t an ancient temple. In fact, the temple is still a work in progress! Work on it began around 1998 and isn’t expected to be finished until 2020. The temple makes use of modern art and culture and integrates it into Buddhism. It is innovative in the sense that, unlike other temples, this one is completely white. Other temples are usually gold.
The temple has an entry ticket fee of 50 Baht. You get a guidebook and a bag with the entry fee. It is open from 06:30 AM until 6:00 PM. As for the Museum of Paintings which is on the premises, that is open from 08:00 AM till 05:30 PM. The White Temple is located 13 kilometers due south of Chiang Rai.
Artists are a big reason why there are so many things to do in Chiang Rai. They are also behind the creation of the Black House. A set of 40 buildings, the Black House is many things. It is a museum and an art studio. It is also the home of the artist, Thawan Duchanee. The Black House is full of unique buildings and grim art. If you’re not into the art, the gardens around the Black House offer the chance for a good walk.
The Black House is open from 09:00 AM till 05:00 PM, although there is a lunch break from 12:00 PM till 1:00 PM. There’s a coffee shop nearby, as well as a few food stalls. If you want to take something home with you, the Black House also has a souvenir shop.
8. Fish Cave Temple
The Fish Cave Temple is proof that even monkeys have things to do in Chiang Rai. There are so many monkeys around the temple that it is also known as the “Monkey Temple”. They are the most interesting thing about the temple, which is also home to a pool inhabited the crocodiles. Of course, there’s a lot to see barring the temple. Go up its stairs and you will find yourself before a great cave. It is known as the Turtle Cave.
It gets really dark in the cave, so you’ll want to rent a lamp for 20 Baht right outside. The temple, on the other hand, has no ticket costs. It’s best to visit the caves before 5:00 PM, as otherwise, no one will be present to rent out lamps. It is rather far away though, being 45 kilometers away from Chiang Rai.
7. Blue Temple
You have been to the Black House. You have been to the White Temple. Here is the Blue Temple. Like its white counterpart, the blue temple is still under construction. However, it is just as enchanting. On the inside are meticulously designed cobalt walls. There is a large White Buddha inside the temple, which contrasts well with the blue and gold walls. Despite how well made the temple is, it is, in fact, newer than both the White Temple and Black House.
The Blue Temple has no ticket fee whatsoever. It is open daily with no closing hours. However, it is best to go visit around 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM. This is because there are fewer crowds at that time. Also, the weather is much cooler, which makes it easier for one to relax in the Blue Temple.
6. Wat Phra Kaew
Unlike the other temples mentioned, the Wat Phra Kaew is actually much older. It was likely made in the late 1300s. What makes this temple so special is that it was once the site of the Emerald Buddha. Although the Emerald Buddha is now in Bangkok, Wat Phra Kaew is still revered today. A replica of the Emerald Buddha is also available on-premises. There’s also a museum that has a lot of Lanna Kingdom-era exhibits. It is an active temple, so you’ll see monks studying on temple grounds
Fortunately, there is no entry fee for the temple or the museum. However, do take note that the temple is open from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM. The museum, on the other hand, is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Although there is no entry fee, donations are encouraged and accepted by the temple.
5. Chiang Rai Clock Tower
The Chiang Rai Clock Tower is located well in the city. It has the same architectural style as the White Temple and was established around 2007. Exuberantly colored gold, the Chiang Rai Clock Tower is the perfect place to take a photo. If you’re interested in the artistic style, you can also examine it closely during the day. The best part of the Clock Tower is that it’s located well in the city. There are also no ticket costs, and it is open every day!
The best time to go, however, is around the night. There are light projection shows taking place every hour from 7:00 PM till 9:00 PM. It’s a lot of colors from the lasers, as well as sounds. All of this happens as vehicles move in and out of the intersection. This makes for a beautiful scene!
4. Tree Top Adventure Park
The Tree Top Adventure Park is a franchise across Thailand. It’s the newest stop in Chiang Rai. The park here is one of the most adventurous things to do in Chiang Rai. You get to make use of a 300-meter long walkway across the jungle canopy. It’s a great way of enjoying the nature north of the town. There are also zip-lines and rope bridges in this park, so feel free to try everything! It’s a great way of seeing what the jungles outside Chiang Rai have to offer.
Tickets are 150 Baht for both adults and children. The park is open from 8:30 AM till 4:30 PM, and it’s best you book beforehand to prevent complications. You have to be at least seven years old to enter this park, and it’s best to wear comfortable clothes as it can get fairly rigorous.
3. Golden Triangle
This is probably one of the best things to do in Chiang Rai. Since the town is so far up north, you’re actually very close to borders when in Chiang Rai. Consider visiting the Golden Triangle. It is the spot where three country borders intersect. Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar all connect in the Golden Triangle. The phrase was actually made by the CIA to describe the trade of opium in the region.
It’s open from 07:00 AM till 06:00 PM, and there’s no entrance fee. It’s a bit tough to get here, as most people usually make use of guides and buses. From Chiang Rai, you’ll have to take a bus or a taxi to Chiang Saen. From there, you can use a songthaew. There is also a direct minibus line from Chiang Rai. It’ll take you two hours using the minibus.
2. Hall of Opium
If you’re visiting the Golden Triangle, you should also visit the Hall of Opium nearby. It is a museum that has documented the destructive opium trade and its effect on people. It gives visitors a lot of information on drug abuse, and the background of opium. Although informative, the Hall of Opium also maintains some degree of entertainment. It is especially directed to teenagers and young adults.
Tickets will cost you roughly 300 Baht. You can visit the Hall of Opium every day, from 8:30 AM till 4:00 PM. However, the museum is closed on Mondays. The museum has different exhibitions, from short films to old opium tools. It also has opium dens which have been meticulously reconstructed. It is one of the most insightful things to do in Chiang Rai.
1.Lum Nam Kok National Park
The Lum Nam Kok National Park is a huge park, stretching out to 589 square kilometers. It is home to many things, from waterfalls to hot springs. If you’re feeling like having a camping trip, then this is among the best things to do in Chiang Rai. Since the park is still being established, you’ll have to bring your own gear. You can spend hours here just hiking and exploring the park. If you feel like it, you can then relax in the hot springs that dot the park.
You’ll have to pay 100 Baht as an adult to enter the park, and 50 Baht as a child. The park itself is open from 08:00 AM till 5:00 PM every day. You can head out directly from Chiang Rai, and it’ll take you around 40 minutes to reach the park.
Why is Chiang Rai Attractive to Tourists?
Perhaps the best thing about Chiang Rai is that it is growing. This can be very appealing to tourists. You’ll never run out of things to do in Chiang Rai not because there are so many places. Instead, it is because new places are popping up every year. It is a much more relaxing experience compared to bigger hotspots like Bangkok and Phuket. You can explore at your own pace, as there’s no pressure to see everything.
Also, Chiang Rai is perfect for lovers of art. The Black House, White Temple, and Blue Temple are all made by artists and showcase the state of contemporary Thai art. Where cities like Chiang Mai are known for their history, Chiang Rai’s most striking feature is its exhibition of past meeting present.
How to Get to Chiang Rai?
You can make use of several ways to get into Chiang Rai. There is an airport for the town, and so you can directly fly to Chiang Rai from Bangkok. There are also some international flights you can make use of. You can take a taxi or a Tuk-Tuk to the town. It’ll cost you 200 – 250 Baht for the taxi and 150 Baht for a Tuk-Tuk.
Otherwise, you can consider taking a flight to Chiang Mai, from where you can board a bus that will take you to Chiang Rai. People even consider taking a bus or train to Chiang Mai, after which they board another bus to Chiang Rai. There are also long haul services from Bangkok to Chiang Rai if you’re willing to stay on a bus for that long!
Chiang Rai Useful Links
https://www.tourismthailand.org/About-Thailand/Destination/Chiang-Rai – This is the Tourism Authority’s official webpage for Chiang Rai.
https://www.chiangraiprovince.org/ – This is Chiang Rai’s official province webpage.
https://chiangrai.sawadee.com/chiangrai.html – This is a good travel guide for Chiang Rai for you to use, in case you’re looking for more things to do!
There’s a lot to look forward to in Chiang Rai. From new temples made by artists to growing tourist sites, Chiang Rai is slowly becoming a top tourist town. The locals in the area are making a big effort to make things happen.
The best thing is that it isn’t as crowded with tourists as other hotspots, making for a more enjoyable experience. You can relax in this town, and allow for the city to move you, instead of you having to constantly move around the city. In Chiang Rai, lies the future of Thailand, where past meets present.