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All you need to know to visit Chiang Rai

เชียงราย
Northern Thailand
823 km from Bangkok
Province of Chiang Rai

Budget
euroeuro

Recomm. stay
3 jours minimum

Visits
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Practical guide to go and visit Chiang Rai

Capital town of the most northern province of Thailand, Chiang Rai is a city of the famous Golden Triangle area. It is the starting point for treks and excursions into the jungle and mountains to meet the hill tribes. The most famous monument here is the White Temple or Wat Rong Khun. Located a few kilometers from Lao and Burmanese borders, Chiang Rai is also a gateway to these countries. Those who want to experience the wilderness of Thailand often come here. Trekking, rafting, taking care of elephants, cycling, river cruises, discovery of the hill tribes and all kinds of activities in the nature are proposed.
chiang rai

Accommodations in Chiang Rai

To sleep in Chiang Rai, there are many guesthouses with a very good quality/price ratio. One of the best in Thailand. They are scattered across the city but you will find a some of them near Wat Ched Yod and Ched Yod Road, the street that leads to the temple or on Santirach Road where there are 4 or 5 guest houses in a radius of 100 meters. You can find any category of accommodation in Chiang Rai. Even totally outdated places whith prices that may seem attractive even for the modest level of comfort but you will find much better rooms in guesthouses at the same price. I have experienced it.

Find accommodation in Chiang Rai

My recommandations

People often ask me what accommodations I recommend in Thailand, here are my recommandations in Chiang Rai.

Guesthouse in Chiang Rai

Hotel in Chiang Rai

Hotel in Chiang Rai

Hotel in Chiang Rai

Guesthouse in Chiang Rai

Hotel in Chiang Rai


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Practical information about Chiang Rai

There is no railway station in Chiang Rai, you can only reach the city by plane or bus. A bus ride from Bangkok takes around 11 hours but the plane is clearly the best option to come to Chiang Rai from Bangkok. Note that Green Bus buses are the only option to come from Chiang Mai, there is no minivan or other bus company connecting the two cities, so I recommend you to book your bus ticket in advance, at least the day before, otherwise you will probably wait 2 to 3 hours before taking place in a bus to Chiang Rai (online booking HERE).

How to go to Chiang Rai ?

Chiang Rai is in the far north of Thailand. From Bangkok, the fastest way to come is to take the plane because by bus it take around 12 hours. Buses depart very regularly from the Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal (Mochit) in Bangkok. Note that from Chiang Mai, only the company Green Bus offers buses to go to Chiang Rai. They are no other choice and no minivan connecting the two cities. Therefore I strongly recommended you to book your tickets in advance, at least the day before your departure (online booking here but note that tickets are only on sale 4 weeks before the departure date) otherwise you will probably have to wait at least 2 hours time before having seat in a bus. Buses leave from Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3 (just opposite to the Arcade Bus Terminal). The train does not go to Chiang Rai, it does not go further than Chiang Mai. Note that there are now VietJetAir flights between Chiang Rai and Phuket.

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My selection of tours & activities in Chiang Rai

Visit Chiang Rai with Bee a licensed Thai guide Chiang Rai

Visit Chiang Rai with Bee a licensed Thai guide

Offered in Englishenglish guide
Visit Chiang Rai with Bee, a Thai licensed guide guide who speaks good English. She will bring you to discover all the facets of Chiang Rai province. The detailed program of your visits will be established by discussing with her based on her suggestions, your tastes, and desires. Bee will also take care of booking a minivan with driver to offer you a complete service.

2-Day 1-Night Trekking in Chiang Rai mountains Chiang Rai

2-Day 1-Night Trekking in Chiang Rai mountains

Offered in Englishenglish guide
Go on a trek to discover the beautiful landscapes Chiang Rai mountains, meet the Karen, spend the evening and sleep in a Lahu village, swim in a waterfall... Enjoy Northern Thailand nature for 2 days and one night!

How to get around in Chiang Rai ?

Generally travelers choose tuk-tuk or motorcycle taxis to get around in Chiang Rai. There are also some rare air-conditioned taxis. To visit the city, there is a free tram going on a circuit through the most interesting attractions. There are two bus terminals in Chiang Rai. One is ten kilometers from the city and hosts the bus to the other provinces (the Green Bus them serve both terminals) and one is in the city near Chiang Rai night market. A local bus connects the two terminals for 15 baht but only leaves when it is full. Since mid October 2018, there is a new bus service connectiong Chiang Rai airport to both bus terminals and Chiang Rai city.
To get out of the city, there are local buses leaving for one of the city bus terminals. There is a the bus to White Temple for instance. You can also use GRAB app (similar to UBER but UBER does not operate in Southestern Asia any more) to order a transportation.

Festivals in Chiang Rai ?

Here is a list of the main festivals taking place every year in Chiang Rai. I mention their dates as soon as they are official on Thai Festivals page.
chiang rai asean flower festival

Chiang Rai Asean Flower Festival

This festival generally takes place in the month of January

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chiang rai flower festival

Chiang Rai Flower Festival

This festival generally takes place in the month of January

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chiang rai balloon fiesta

Chiang Rai Balloon Fiesta

This festival generally takes place in the month of February

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akha swing festival

Akha Swing Festival

This festival generally takes place in the month of September

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chiang rai amazing thailand countdown

Chiang Rai Amazing Thailand Countdown

This festival generally takes place in the month of December

arrow_circle_right Plus d'infos sur Chiang Rai Amazing Thailand Countdown

Other places to see in Chiang Rai

Wat Phra Singh Chiang Rai
Wat Phra Singh
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Lanna style, it also has a namesake temple in Chiang Mai. The roofs of the temple are absolutely beautiful
Wat Jed Yod Chiang Rai
Wat Jed Yod
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which unlike Wat Ched Yod in Chiang Mai does not have the stucco carvings representing Boddhisatvas but houses a beautiful big sitting Buddha
Wat Phra That Doi Jom Thong Chiang Rai
Wat Phra That Doi Jom Thong
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located on a hill, it offers an interesting view of the city but the temple itself is very small and common
Wat Phra Non Chiang Rai
Wat Phra Non
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temple of the Reclining Buddha, it is especially interesting for its beautiful red brick porch
Wat Doi Ngam Muang Chiang Rai
Wat Doi Ngam Muang
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3 minutes walk from Wat Phra Kaew, it is an interesting step in the ascension of Doi Jom Thong on the way to Phrat That Jom Thong, the temple at the top of the hill from which you can have an interesting view of Chiang Rai.
108 pillars of Chiang Rai city Chiang Rai
108 pillars of Chiang Rai city
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on the hill of Wat Phra That Doi Jom Thong, a few meters from the temple, this highly symbolic monument pays tribute to the creation of the city of Chiang Rai imagined by King Meng Rai after contemplating the surrounding area from up there
King Meng Rai Monument Chiang Rai
King Meng Rai Monument
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with a statue of the King, the monument pays tribute to the founder of the city of Chiang Rai
Doi Tung Chiang Rai
Doi Tung
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Mountain 60 km from Chiang Rai, there are many interesting things to see. The setting and scenery which explain its nickname "Switzerland of Thailand", of course, but also the Doi Tung Palace, the garden of Mae Fa Luang, the temple of Phrat That Doi Thong and hill tribe villages .
Singha Park Chiang Rai
Singha Park
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If named after one of Thailand's most famous beer brands, Chiang Rai Singha Park is a huge oolong tea plantation with beautiful sceneries that are very pleasant to discover by bicycle. It's a nice family outing. The park is located outside the city of Chiang Rai about ten minutes drive from the White Temple.
Elephant Valley Thailand Chiang Rai
Elephant Valley Thailand
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This elephant sanctuary opened in 2016. It offers a truly respectful and responsible meeting with the elephants experience. You will not ride them, you will not wash them, you will not watch them do tricks to entertain you, you will just observe them live their elephant life at a reasonable distance. The goal of this park is to let elephants be elephants and that's why I recommend it.
Choui Fong Tea Plantation Chiang Rai
Choui Fong Tea Plantation
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Located about forty kilometers from Chiang Rai city, this huge tea plantation offers a very photogenic setting that attracts many visitors every day for some selfies in these beautiful landscapes. There is also a shop and a café (a café where you can order and drink all kinds of tea drinks).
Mae Sai Border market Chiang Rai
Mae Sai Border market
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This market is not in Chiang Rai but in Mae Sai city 60 kilometers further in the North. It is the last city before Myanmar. YOu can actually cross the boder there. Big and very lively, it's fun to walk around and why not do some shopping in this local market.
Cherntawan Meditation Center Chiang Rai
Cherntawan Meditation Center
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This great meditation center is worth a visit. It is a beautiful place on the edge of a lake that breathes serenity. Besides the lake and the neighboring countryside are also worth a visit.
Fish Cave Temple (Wat Tham Pla) Chiang Rai
Fish Cave Temple (Wat Tham Pla)
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This amazing temple full of surprises is not in Chaing Rai but rather in Mae Sai. Actually 16 kilometers from Mae Sai. With its monkeys, fishes and cave, it is really interesting and still very little known by tourists. It must be said that foreign tourists are few to go here or in a hurry to cross the border to go to Myanmar.
Phu Chi Fah Chiang Rai
Phu Chi Fah
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It is the most popular and well-known mountain in Chiang Rai Province. In good weather, it offers beautiful views of Laos and the surrounding mountains. The landscapes crossed to get up there are also superb. In winter, many Thais come Phu Chi Fah to see the "sea of mist" in the morning.
Doi Pha Tang Chiang Rai
Doi Pha Tang
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A few kilometers from Phu Chi Fah, less known, Doi Pha Tang mount is ideal for watching the Mekong River down in the Laotian valley because yes, here you are at the border. An excursion here on a clear day will make you discover beautiful landscapes.
Phu Sang Waterfall Chiang Rai
Phu Sang Waterfall
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This waterfall is very easy to access because at the edge of the road. It can be a nice stop on the road to Phu Chi Fah. But on the other hand, it does not justify to come over there just to see it.
Doi In Cee Chiang Rai
Doi In Cee
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This mountain a few kilometers outside Chiang Rai is interesting for the view it offers over the valley and for its pretty quiet lovely temple in the mountain. Inside the ordination hall, you will see a beautiful white reclining Buddha.
Huay Kaew Waterfall Chiang Rai
Huay Kaew Waterfall
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This waterfall is about twenty kilometers from Chiang Raï. In the middle of the forest, it has the advantage of having water all year round. You can bath there to cool off and pay a visit to the nearby Akha village.
Pha Soet Hot Springs Chiang Rai
Pha Soet Hot Springs
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In Thailand, it's always nice to relax in the hot springs. There are several hot springs around Chiang Rai, Phra Soet Hot Springs are only about twenty kilometers away from the city and personally, I like them for their big mineral swimming pool in which you can swim.
Golden Triangle Chiang Rai
Golden Triangle
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in Sop Ruak, 67 km from Chiang Rai and 9 km from Chiang Sean, borders of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Loas meet. Minivans depart from Terminal bus number 1 and can take you there.
Doi Mae Salong Chiang Rai
Doi Mae Salong
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This other mountain in Chiang Rai province is first and foremost famous for its tea production and for the pagoda built as a tribute to the princess mother of King Rama 9. Visitors come for the freshness, the magnificent views and see the tea process (plantations, picking , roasting ...)
Wat Phra That Pha Ngao Chiang Rai
Wat Phra That Pha Ngao
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This very pretty temple located in Chiang Saen is quite large. It is usually visited before going to the Golden Triangle 9 km away. From the platform next to its white perched chedi visitors can enjoy a panoramic view over the Mekong River.
Chiang Rai Beach Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai Beach
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The Chiang Rai beach is of course a river beach but a nice place to chill out and have lunch or dinner (but do not go too late). The setting is friendly and popular with locals on weekends in the dry season.
Rai Mae Fah Luang Chiang Rai
Rai Mae Fah Luang
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This beautiful park, just a stone's throw from Chiang Rai Beach, has ancient Lanna-style wooden pavilions with interesting exhibits, and is also a nice place to relax among the trees or in front of the lotus pond.

Weather & climate in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai has a tropical humid and dry climate. The winters are dry and warm although in recent years there have been some waves of cold in December and January (temperatures between 14 and 18 °C in the plain but for Thailand it is cold). Temperatures rise until April, the hottest month here. The monsoon season extends from late April to October, with heavy rains and cooler temperatures during the day.

It is only in July-August that coming to Chiang Rai is not really advised because of the risk of rains. Be careful in winter (December to March), morning temperatures can be quite cool, bring a sweater in your luggage and even a warm jacket if you plan to go in the mountains.

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How to ask in Thai to go to Chiang Rai ?

I want to go to Chiang Rai / Yak paï ti Chiang Rai.
Where is Chiang Rai ? / Chiang Rai you ti naï ?
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