Chiang Rai Things To Do, Where To Eat & Where To Stay!

Chiang Rai, in Thailand’s northernmost province,  sits firmly on the South East Asia Backpacker trail, and is often a travelers last stop in Thailand before crossing in Laos. However, a quick search of things to do in the area leaves many feeling underwhelmed. Most travelers have heard about the White Temple, but with google throwing up only a few more temples as options for Things To Do in Chiang Rai, it doesn’t inspire many people to stick around longer than the included 2 hour stop on the way to the border.  This guide is dedicated to showing you that there is so much more to Chiang Rai than just the ‘White Temple’ and to convince you to give it a little more time on your tour of Thailand. Keep reading to find out all about the Things To Do in Chiang Rai – and as you’ll be staying a little longer – where to eat and where to stay! (Chiang Rai Things To Do)

Chinag Rai Things To Do

Chiang Rai Things To Do, Where To Stay & Where to Eat!

A Guest Post by Jub Bryant from TikiTouringKiwi.com

Many make a day trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai for the White Temple alone. Chiang Mai draws massive numbers of tourists, few of which make their way a few hours north to Chiang Rai. I was no exception, only ever driving through Chiang Rai on border runs. That changed recently and after three days I was exhausted with sightseeing. Keep reading and let me see if I can change your mind about Chiang Rai as a one stop wonder as I share with you the top 10 things to do in Chiang Rai, plus where to eat and where to stay! Chiang Rai Things To Do

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Top Things To Do in Chiang Rai

  1. Khun Korn Waterfall

Things To Do in Chiang Rai

Northern Thailand is mountainous with lots of waterfalls. The consensus says Khun Korn Waterfall is the best Chiang Rai waterfall, and I agree, though I love Chiang Mai’s sticky waterfall. The 1,400-metre walk from the parking area is easy for most and you can have a well deserved dip in the waterfall when you get there.

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  1. Wander The Night Markets

Chiang Rai Things To Do

Chiang Rai mimics Chiang Rai with its markets. There is the main night bizarre seven days a week with a market on both Saturday and Sunday night. The Saturday night market was the highlight but most of the vendors are the same on both Saturday and Sunday.

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  1. Clock Tower

Chiang Rai Things To Do

The Clock Tower acts as a centerpiece of a roundabout. The gold structure is a great landmark during the day and comes alive three times after the sunsets. At 7 pm, 8 pm and 9 pm, the tower lights up with music. It’s worth timing one of your visits to the night markets to see the clock tower light up. (Chiang Rai Things To Do)

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  1. Singha Park

Chiang Rai Things To Do

Singha Park, unfortunately, does not house the Singha Brewery. What you’ll find is tea plantations, flowers, lion statue and a small park with two giraffes and zebras. The preferred activity is renting a couple of bicycles (100 baht/hour) and explore. The park hosts events throughout the year, like the Chiang Rai Balloon Fiesta. Chiang Rai Things To Do

Chiang Rai Things To Do

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  1. Doi In Cee 

Chiang Rai Things To Do

There’s no better way to get the lay of a city than from above. Doi In Cee is a viewpoint on the western edge of the city few make it too. The temple grounds are worth a quick look around, but the view is enough to ponder. Can you spot the Big Buddha (No. 8 in this list).

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  1. The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

Chiang Rai Things To Do

If you haven’t seen photos of this temple before, you must be living under a rock. This place is packed with tourists all day, good luck getting a people free photo. The temple is quirky on the inside with cartoon pictures of all your childhood favorites such as Pikachu, Spiderman, and Harry Potter. Yup, inside the temple. You’re not allowed to take photos inside so come see it for yourself.

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  1. Black House (Baan Dam)

Chiang Rai Things To Do

The Black House is an interesting place, not for the faint hearted. Not getting as many visitors as the White Temple, the Black House is 40 unique buildings holding various artifacts. The main building is beautiful from the outside, what you don’t expect to see on the inside are dead animals (the animals died from natural causes, apparently). If you’re looking for an organized tour option, a visit to the Black House can be combined with the White Temple, Blue Temple and Chinese Temple (plus lunch and a massage) on this Tour.  Chiang Rai Things To Do

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  1. Wat Huai Pla Kung

Tourist Attractions in Chiang Rai

Wat Huai Pla Kung wasn’t on the itinerary but we squeezed a detour in. When we spotted the large white sitting Buddha from a distance we were gobsmacked. Meanwhile, the actual temple itself is interesting with wooden Buddhas which I’d never seen before. You can climb the stairs right to the top and look out over the surrounding area. Chiang Rai Things To Do

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  1. Chiang Rai Beach

Things To Do in Chiang Rai

There’s something quite funny about going to a ‘beach’ when you’re 900km away from the ocean. Chiang Rai Beach is on the edge of the Kok River with the locals enjoying what they can out of it. You aren’t there for the ‘gorgeous beach views’, more so to enjoy the huts and if you can find someone renting tubes, floating on downstream is a blast.

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  1. Choui Fong Tea Plantation

Things to do Chiang Rai

Mae Salong is the famous tea district in Northern Thailand, but you can get a good example of what to expect at Choui Fong Tea Plantation. Surrounded by pineapple farms, the rows of tea plants rise out of nowhere and make for some gorgeous photos. Take a tour, see the tea factory and of course, buy some to take home for gifts. It’s a good taster for those short on time.

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Where To Stay in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai Hotel is one minute from the Clock Tower, as central as it gets. Nothing fancy, solid rooms, pleasant service with a cafe downstairs. This location is hard to beat, make sure to book early otherwise you’ll be out of luck.

Ben Guesthouse is a 25-minute walk from the Clock Tower. It’s more of a place if you like to relax for a few hours a day with nice outdoor areas and a pool. If you’ve got a car or scooter, you can get anywhere with no issues. The Sunday Walking Street is a three-minute walk away.

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Where To Eat in Chiang Rai

The markets all offer the usual snacks and meals you can expect to find at a Thai market. The night bizarre itself has two food courts, a ‘touristy’ one with meals from 100 – 200 baht and a more local one with meals from as little as 30 baht. The food courts are a minute walk from one another, yet offer separate live music each night.

If you’re looking for menu’s with a combination of Thai and Western meals, a walk along Jed Yod Road has plenty of options with a variety of prices. Nangnon has awesome smoothies, and I loved the green curry from Oak And Awe Cafe while my friend enjoyed her western style feast.

For vegans and vegetarians, you can usually request changes at the restaurants as needed. I wouldn’t trust the recommendations on Happy Cow (an online restaurant guide), many of the places listed were closed. However, Tamachat has an awesome noodle soup (get there before 2 pm) and various rice dishes.

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EXTRA CHIANG RAI ADVENTURES

IF YOU CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF CHIANG RAI, TAKE A LOOK AT THESE GREAT TOURS TO EXPLORE THE SURROUNDING AREA:

  • Overnight Hmong Eco Tribe Tour – a community-based lodge nestled high on a hill in Chiang Rai Province, northern Thailand. It offers hill tribe tours that combine hill tribe experience with eco-friendly activities such as hiking, tree planting and Hmong batik class.
  • 3 Day Tour Exploring the Golden Triangle by Bicycle – Explore the Golden Triangle by bike on a 3-day tour from Chiang Rai, and discover the former heart of the ancient opium trade. Trace a 73-mile (118-kilometer) route along country roads with the support an air-conditioned van as you pedal to the Mekong river town of Chiang Saen, learn the history of the region’s drug trade at the Opium Museum and experience rural life in an isolated Thai village
  • Golden Triangle Day Tour with Mekong River Cruise
    Your small-group guided tour includes a small boat cruise along the mighty Mekong River, a visit to Chiang Saen’s incredible temple ruins and plenty of photo ops at the scenic border where Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet.

    . THINGS TO DO

So there you have it a full run-down of the Top Things To Do in Chiang Rai along with suggestions for where to stay and where to eat! I hope you now have loads of ideas for how best to spend your time in Chiang Rai, and don’t forget to grab these everyday travel essentials before you go

POWERBANK
TRAVEL ADAPTER
GORILLAPOD
CAMERA/DAY BAG

Oh, if you liked this post, please pin and share – I’d really appreciate it! Click the P in the share bar for full size images!

Chiang Rai Things To Do    Chiang Rai Things To Do

Hi There! Thanks for reading this Travel Guide for Chiang Rai: Things To Do, Where to Eat & Where To Stay. I just wanted to let you know that this post contains affiliate links, which help support this site at absolutely no cost to you. If you enjoyed this article and are going to be searching for some of the things I mention anyway, I would love it if you could click through from the links above. These links help me keep this site online and updated – so thank you in advance! Read my full Disclosure here.

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Jub is a kiwi who is wearing a cat t-shirt more often than not. He’s been travelling since 2012 and for some reason keeps finding himself back in Southeast Asia but knows there is a whole world out there to explore.

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41 thoughts on “Chiang Rai Things To Do, Where To Eat & Where To Stay!

  1. Ticking the Bucketlist says:

    Such a lovely place…I have been dying to go to the white temple for the longest time! The sushi at the night market looks yum and I am sure it wont be too expensive either! The balloon festival seems like a lot of fun!

  2. Global Girl Travels says:

    This looks like a very interesting place to visit with lots of variety. When I visit Southeast Asian cities, a visit to the night markets are always a must! I love finding great food and bargains!

  3. Rosie Benton says:

    Wow didn’t realise there was so much to do and see in Chiang Rai – that waterfall looks amazing! as does the white temple. Sounds like there’s plenty of cheap options to grab dinner too – perfect!

  4. sabrina says:

    The timing of this post is absolutely perfect as I’m going to Chiang Rai this weekend and then over to Laos. Do you know if there is a direct bus from Chiang Rai to Luang Prabang? It seems impossible to find up to date information online 🙁

    • Vicki says:

      Hi Sabrina – when we did that route a few years ago (when the border crossing was still by long-tail boat and not a bridge!) we got on a mini bus from Chiang Mai (which stopped at Chiang Rai for an hour) then carried on up to the border -> crossed over -> and got on an overnight sleeper bus down to Luang Prabang.
      We traveled with Wandering Star tour which cost around 1500 baht pp. I’ve had a quick look at their site and they still do the same route, so you may want to contact them and ask to be picked up in Chiang Rai. (http://www.wanderingstartour.com/laos-packages/lp-9.html)

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Amanda – we only has a few hours there on the way to the border and had no idea there was so much there until I received this guest post!

  5. Jacklyn says:

    I LOVE your photos! Thailand is high on my bucketlist and this post hasn’t helped my wanderlust at all! The hot air balloons at Singha Park look like no others that I’ve ever seen!! I can’t wait to get to Thailand and visit those night markets!!

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Jackie – I’ll be sure to let our guest writer, Jub, know that his photos are awesome! And the night markets in Asia are incredible – luckily they have one in most cities in Thailand so there will always be an opportunity to visit one wherever you plan to visit first!

  6. Janine Good says:

    Chiang Rai looks lovely! I never got to this part of Thailand when I was there three years ago and have regretted it much as i would have loved to have seen the infamous White temple. The waterfall looks beautiful and after the 1400-metre walk I would be jumping in the water as well. I loved Thailand and posts like this keep wanting me to go back.

  7. Rajkumar Gaikwad says:

    This is totally a complete guide Vicki, this will really help me out as I’m planning to be in Thailand in this coming month. Would seriously not want to miss out this place.
    Thanks for the article
    Keep sharing such offbeat topics. 🙂

    • Vicki says:

      Hi Lauren, I’ve only visited the White Temple passing through – you’d have to ask our guest poster about the food at the Chiang Rai night market.

  8. Tom says:

    Oh, it’s too bad there’s some scaffolding around the white temple–that would have been a brilliant shot. People always know about Chiang Mai and they don’t seem to know much about Chiang Rai, so it’s neat to see a writeup. And good for you for including a needed thing, the night market.

  9. Nathan says:

    This came at a perfect time– I’m actually looking at doing a visa run to Chiang Rai next week! I’ve heard of some of these but some of them are new to me.

  10. Drew says:

    Really great guide to Chiang Rai. I have yet to make it to this part of Thailand, but your pictures make me want to head straight there. I have heard of the The White Temple, but don’t think I had seen an image of it before. Boy, is that impressive!
    Of course, knowing me, I would probably spend most of my time at the night markets!

  11. Brianna says:

    I haven’t heard of Chiang Rai before, but it has made my Thailand to-do list even longer! I’ve heard of the White Temple before, but I didn’t know it was here. I’ve heard there are a lot of really strange things about it, so that’s definitely appealing! I wonder why they don’t allow photos inside. It doesn’t seem like they’re really taking the whole “temple” thing seriously if there are cartoons inside!

  12. Jing says:

    I’ve only heard of the White Temple and the tea plantations. What you have here will make anyone think that Chiang Rai deserves more than a day’s stay in this town.

  13. Reshma Narasing says:

    I have been to Chiang Rai, but it was just a day’s trip. Your post reminds me that there are so many that I need to check out. Thanks for sharing the tips on staying and exploring!

  14. Jetsetter Jenn says:

    I’m a big fan of chasing waterfalls (ha, really though!) so I must head to Northern Thailand! This is something I didn’t know about that region so thank you for sharing. That overnight tribe tour sounds awesome as well. Bookmarking this for the future! Happy travels 🙂

  15. Vicky and Buddy says:

    I wish I’d had more time in Thailand! The furthest north I went was Chiang Mai. I think visiting the markets would have been my favorite part. You could always find cool things to buy and really great food. If I ever get back to Thailand, I’ll definitely stop in Chiang Rai!

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