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Chiang Rai

เชียงราย
Northern Thailand
823 km from Bangkok
Province of Chiang Rai
Population : 75 000

Budget

Recomm. stay
3 jours minimum

Visits

chiang rai

General Information about 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 Even totally outdated places whith prices that may seem attractive even for the modest level of comfort but you will find much better rooms in guesthouses at the same price.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 recommaend in Thailand, here are my recommandations in Chiang Rai.

baan rub aroon guesthouse

Guesthouse in Chiang Rai

chat house

Guesthouse in Chiang Rai

angels chambres d hôtes

Guesthouse in Chiang Rai


See all accommodations in Chiang Rai

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.

See weather forecast in Chiang Rai


When to go to Chiang Rai ?

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 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.

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 ?

Must-visits in Chiang Rai

White Temple or Wat Rong Khun Chiang Rai

White Temple or Wat Rong Khun

วัดร่องขุ่น
My opinion :
This temple is different from those we are used to cross in Thailand with their gilding and strong colors. Wat Rong Khun is completely white. It is located 13 km in the South of Chiang Rai at the intersection of highway to Chiang Mai and highway to Phayao.
Wat Phra Kaew Chiang Rai

Wat Phra Kaew

วัดพระแก้ว
My opinion :
In Lanna style, it housed the statue of Emerald that now is in Wat Phra Keo in Bangkok and has a copy of it.
Wat Rong Suea Ten - Blue Temple Chiang Rai

Wat Rong Suea Ten - Blue Temple

วัดร่องเสือเต้น
My opinion :
Wat Rong Seua Ten is also known as the blue temple because it is its dominant color. A little outside Chiang Rai city, its interior with a magnificent white Buddha is just magnificent. Still little known by tourists because very recent, its popularity will certainly go growing very fast !
Black House (Baan Dam) Chiang Rai

Black House (Baan Dam)

บ้านดำ
My opinion :
As the name suggests it is a black house, actuallly several houses built by a Thai artist. It is probably the second best known place in Chiang Rai (it is a few kilometers outside the city) although its decoration consisting of skeletons and skulls of animals can disturb some visitors.
Wat Huay Pla Kung (Big Buddha) Chiang Rai

Wat Huay Pla Kung (Big Buddha)

วัดห้วยปลากั้ง
My opinion :
The temple is often mistakenly called Chiang Rai's Big Buddha, but its impressive white statue does not represent Lord Buddha, but Guan Yin, the goddess of Mercy. TAnyway, this recent temple, partly still under construction, worths a visit ! Located a few kilometers from the city, it is really beautiful!
Doi Chang Chiang Rai

Doi Chang

ดอยช้าง
My opinion :
This mountain offers beautiful sceneries and is known throughout Thailand for its coffee, the most famous and most delicious coffee in Thailand. Going up there, you can meet the hill tribes that grow the coffee plant and see the whole process of its transformation and of course enjoy great views, or maybe discover some surprises....
Sunday Walking Street Chiang Rai

Sunday Walking Street

สันโค้งถนนคนม่วน
My opinion :
This big night market, set up in a street in the center of Chiang Rai becoming pedestrian for the occasion, is one of the things I love the most about Thailand. It is a funny and friendly place for shopping but also and above all to come for dinner and discover the Thai Street Food, one of the best and most tasteful in the world.
Saturday Walking Street Chiang Rai

Saturday Walking Street

ถนนคนเดินเชียงราย
My opinion :
Another big night market that settles in a street in the center of Chiang Rai beoming pedestrian to accommodate for a few hours vendors of all kinds (clothes, souvenirs, vegetables, artcrafts) and of course many Street food stalls
Elephant Valley Thailand Chiang Rai
My opinion :
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.
Night Bazaar Chiang Rai

Night Bazaar

ไนท์บาซาร์
My opinion :
This night market takes place every night in Chiang Rai city right next to the Bus Terminal Number 1. You can certainly do a little shopping there but it is especially to come have dinner for cheap in a simple and typical atmosphere that I recommend it.
Wat Saeng Kaew Pothiyan Chiang Rai

Wat Saeng Kaew Pothiyan

วัดแสงแก้วโพธิญาณ
My opinion :
This recent temple, its construction started in 2006, is about 50 kilometers from Chiang Rai city. It clearly worths the detour as it is certainly one of the most beautiful and impressive temples in the province.
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