Chiang Rai once was the national capital of the Kingdom of Lanna in the 13th century. Now it is a capital city of the most northern part of Thailand. It's near the border to Myanmar and Laos.
Chiang Rai is a quiet city with culture and tradition, featuring mountain villages, the romantic Mekong River, and the mysterious Golden Triangle. You can get up to the mountain tops to see Myanmar and Laos at the other side, or enjoy a boat trip along the river, or hike to the distant tribes.
Why visit Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai is a small and quiet rural city where you can get close to the local culture and tradition. Compared to the busy and prosperous Bangkok, Chiang Rai is a more relaxed city.
As there are many hill tribes and mountains, trekking is one of the most popular activities in Chiang Rai. You can enjoy hiking through forests and visit the hill tribes or just have a rest.
You can also enjoy the natural scenery at Doi Mae Salong, a beautiful village with terraced tea, coffee and fruit tree plantations, or you can learn about many rare plants in Mae Fah Luang Art and Culture Park & Botanic Garden.
Seeing Bangkok with ease
In Bangkok, our tour guide, Ying, was wonderful. She navigated all the sights with ease, gave us interesting tidbits on Thai culture and history, helped us pick the right food at all the restaurants, and was just a pleasure to be around. We had a great time, and it was so nice to not have to worry about any of the details.More
Diane Elkins, Nov 2023
Thailand -insights, no stress and amazing team
My husband and my Thailand trip was fantastic, stress-free and educational thanks to the amazing team coordinated by Albee at Asia Highlights. The whole team was incredibly accessible, responsive, sensitive to our needs and lovely to work with. End-to-end, the trip was truly remarkable and the knowledgeable and dynamic tour guides and drivers made it especially memorable!More
AndrewsFamily, Oct 2023
Informative & Thorough / Thanks Sharon!
Sharon the advisor that helped me was so thorough & informative and explained the details of the tour including questions about visas and what is included vs what is not included in the tour packages. I would recommend them to explain tour packages that would fit the schedule of your pending travels.More
Chris, Sep 2023
Easy, fast responses
I worked directly with Monica in Asia Highlights. She was incredibly helpful and answered all of my questions quickly. Working with her made the whole process easy and we are so excited for our trip!More
Diana B, Sep 2023
Stress free Thailand
Alisa has organised our 14 day Thailand holiday for 2024 for my family & I. She has been very accommodating & super quick with all of our requests & we cannot wait for a stress free holiday! Thank you Alisa!More
Alana Mitchell, Sep 2023
Family Trip to Thailand-Cambodia
All of our guides were very nice and knowledgeable, but we have a special mention to our guide in Cambodia, Chan, he was very kind with us and it was very amusing. He went the extra mile for us. We really enjoyed our holidays!More
José Antonio Carrillo de la Pl, Sep 2023
Asia Highlights and Sharon
Asia Highlights, specifically Sharon, has been wonderfully helpful as we get ready for a 2024 excursion to Thailand. We are beyond excited, and much of that has to do with the personalized attention that we have experienced with Sharon. She has been extremely responsive, obliging, and focused as she helped us design a tailor made itinerary. All of our questions have been addressed, our needs have been met, and the path has now been set for a very exciting trip.... thanks to Sharon.More
Marcy Hoenig, Sep 2023
I was planning a trip to Thailand to…
I was planning a trip to Thailand to especially see the Lantern Festival this year for our birthdays!! It’s been on our bucket list, but we were completely lost on how to go about planning for our trip. We’ve never really booked tours before but Alisa was extremely helpful, knowledgeable, flexible and efficient in providing all the information we needed to make our decision on the best tours and tickets to purchase. Thank you so much!!More
https://www.trustpilot.com/reviews/64d9a5a4657e4b39f768a21e, Aug 2023
I would definitely recommend Asia…
All of our guides were wonderful (Mr. Bank - Bangkok and Ms. Kai in Phuket & Khao Sok plus antoher guide who assisted in Koh Samui). Sharon took care of tours, private drivers, flights and hotels within Thailand and our trip went off without a hitch. The hotels were great and the transportation always arrived on time and with a clean,More
Guinevere Provance, Aug 2023
WOW! I’ve traveled Asia some & I must say Sharon & Asia Highlights made this trip so much more enjoyable and easyMore
Stephen Hollis, Aug 2023
Alisa has has been great to work with
Alisa with Asia Highlights has has been great to work with. Very friendly and responsive.More
Ana Rausch, Aug 2023
Using Sharon right now to book our…
Using Sharon right now to book our upcoming trip to Thailand. She has booked everything that we asked for. Has answered all of my inquiries, which has been many! Looking forward to having a great girls trip in ThailandMore
Tracy, Aug 2023
Thailand, Singapore, Bali
In Thailand, Tanny and Nori(Suparp), were both incredible! They were both fun, funny, and full of knowledge and made sure we got the full experience. They went the extra mile and always made sure we had cold bottled water and towels to cleanse our hands. In Singapore, Nicole was an absolute gem. She was so kind and knowledgeable and guided us in the right direction to make our day as enjoyable as possible. She helped us choose a top notch local lunch and coffee spot in China Town and taught us so much about the country! In Bali, Emon was an absolute joy. He was very knowledgeable and kind and absolutely made sure we were feeling comfortable and was willing to be flexible with us. He was fun to converse with and made our time traveling between destinations so enjoyable! I cannot recommend Asia Highlights enough! Accommodations, travel arrangements and guided tours were all a breeze.More
Cassi Thunker, Jul 2023
Very supportive ! I have received eticket for Sky Lattern Festival very fastMore
Chi?n Nguy?n Ng?c, Jul 2023
My experience in Chang Mai with Asia Highlights
I greatly enjoyed my experience with Asia Highlights for a trip I booked to Thailand.All of my interests were catered too. My guide in Chang Mai Gemma was excellent.I truly felt the soul of Thailand culture and Buddhism.More
Richard, Jul 2023
A pleasure to plan with
Well, this has been a painless and pleasurable process to find such a wonderful company. I had specific dates and places to be and Sharon worked with me diligently to refine the schedule and costs to suit my travel needs and budget. She informed me of a special tour on the dates I am to be in Thailand and I added that to my previous plans.More
Chris Williams, Jul 2023
Large multi-generational holiday in Thailand
The holiday was wonderful. Our guides, Mr Monchai (Bangkok), and Ms Tipagorn (Tippy) (Chiang Mai) were exceptional. Travelling in a large multigenerational group with many children requires patience and our guides truly understood that. Mr Monchai and Ms Tippy shared their extensive knowledge of the many wonderful places we visited, and were flexible to take us to additional places along the way based on discussions. While everyday was busy, having them greet us with patience and a smile truly made this a memorable holiday. The hotels we stayed at were equally wonderful and went above and beyond to celebrate not only my parents 50th anniversary but also celebrate 2 milestone birthdays that occurred. We will cherish this holiday for many years to come. We hope to use Asia Highlights again.More
CL, Jul 2023
I never used a travel agent in my life
I never used a travel agent in my life, but Sharon for Asia Highlights did a phenomenal job helping planning and coordination a family vacation. The best part of working with Sharon was that she maintained an open line of communication and provided answers to my question well within 12-24 hours. Additionally, Sharon was flexible and customized our vacation to my families needs. Overall great experience.More
Antione Barry, Jul 2023
Great company to plan a trip to Southeast Asia!
Sharon Haung has been wonderful to work with! Very patient and accommodating. Responds immediately given time change and is prepared, prompt, and professional.More
Debi Hinerfeld, Jul 2023
We took a 15 days trip (10 days Vietnam and 5 days Thailand …
It was an amazing experience the guides and drivers were there awaiting for us at each airoport for a transfer to the hotels also on time for all the tours all the guides were so lovely , very experienced and spoke very good English , one of the days on tour in Thailand I lost my phone in a temple in Bangkok mr chai went out of his way in a middle of thousands of visitors and managed to find an bring it back to me I found that amazing , also while on a trip I contacted Jason li out tour organizer few time via whatup and he replied and helped on the spot I recommend asiahilights 150% The quality of the service hotels the guides the drivers outstanding From start to finish ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT ????More
SIMO el ghobar, Jun 2023
What to explore in Chiang Rai
Modern style temples (Baan Dam Museum and Wat Rong Khun)
You can visit the unique Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) and Baan Dam Museum (Black Temple).
The White Temple is an amazing, unique temple, featuring exquisite white roofs, white walls, and a white base. The Black Temple is a museum that consists of black wooden buildings that exhibit collections of black items like hunting tools and animal skulls and bones.
Minorities in Thailand and trekking
The Hill Tribe Museum is a nice choice for you get to know about the life style and customs of the hill tribes. It looks very ordinary from outside, but the collection of exhibits is really rich.
The museum might be a small attraction during the trip, but after visiting it, you will have a more meaningful hill tribe trek. The villages of the different minorities are worth discovering, and during your trek you will be close to nature and able to enjoy beautiful views.
History and nature in Mae Fah Luang Art and Culture Park& Botanic Garden
In Mae Fah Luang Art and Culture Park, you can learn about the history of the royal family and see collections of ancient art of the Lanna Kingdom. There are beautiful wooden pavilions among colorful flowers.
It's also a botanical garden where you can admire many rare plants of northern Thailand and many collections of ancient art of the Kingdom of Lanna. The comfortable environment provides for peaceful moments during your trip.
A visit to an elephant camp is a unique experience in Chiang Rai for you. Here are two options:
Four Seasons Tented Camp, Golden Triangle
The Four Seasons Tented Camp is an amazing hotel where you can "live with" elephants. When you step on the boat for the short journey to get to the tented camp, you will truly leave behind the busy life and work.
The Four Season Tented Camp, Golden Triangle, is the only tented camp hotel of Four Seasons. The tents are hidden in the forest and become a part of nature. You can have the private, quiet space to your own.
During the day you can get close to the elephants and learn to communicate with them.
Anantara Golden Triangle Resort
Anantara Golden Triangle Resort, Asia's premier elephant camp, is located on a mountain ridge from where you can have a bird's-eye-view of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. You can also see two rivers meet.
You will not only enjoy the comfortable natural environment, but also get close to the elephants. You can learn a lot about elephants and have a relaxing walk with them in the forest.
You can also learn how to cook local food. The experience to purchase food at a local market and then learn to cook authentic local dishes, will make for interesting memories.
Plan your trip
Chiang Rai is not a busy city and you can slow down to enjoy your trip. It's suggested to spend about 2-3 days for a Chiang Rai trip, so that you can appreciate the exquisite modern temples, explore the Golden Triangle, and relax in the beautiful nature around.
Half a day to Baan Dam Museum (Black Temple) and Wat Rong Khun (White Temple)
The Black Temple and the White Temple are on the must-see list for a Chiang Rai trip. Half a day is suggested for you to appreciate the unique architecture. They are not actually temples for worshiping. These two buildings are very different from other temples that are decorated with gold and jewelry.
You will not only see the beauty of the appearance, but also learn about the brilliant ideas behind their construction.
One day hill tribe trekking
For most travelers, Chiang Rai is just a small city to enjoy peaceful life. Actually the city provides a good environment for outdoor activities.
Trekking in the forests is one of the most popular activities for travelers to Chiang Rai. There are many mountains and hill tribes in areas like Mae Salong. You can decide the length of your trekking trip (1 to 3 days). The activities during your trekking trip can also include boating, visiting an elephant camp, visiting local hill tribes.
Half a day to the Golden Triangle
The mysterious Golden Triangle is famous for opium trade history. The local people used to plant opium poppy to make a living. After the government intervened, it's no more the chaotic opium trade area, but a peaceful place with green mountains and rivers.
Nowadays people are still curious about this area, and it's suggested that you spend half day to visit it. You can learn about the history and hear stories of the Golden Triangle in the Hall of Opium Museum. An additional option is to go on a Mekong River Cruise, which will make a great experience.
Half a day to Doi Mae Salong
Doi Mae Salong is a mountain village. It's sitting in a mountainous area and enjoys a pleasant, spring-like climate all year round. The nice climate makes it a perfect place for tea, coffee and fruit tree plantations. Doi Mae Salong is a key tea plantation of Thailand. You can sit down and enjoy the fresh tea and have a relaxing time.
Many Chinese people have been living there after the war. It's a village with many hidden stories. There are also several local tribes waiting for you to explore.
Half a day to Mae Fah Luang Art and Culture Park & Botanic Garden
The Mae Fah Luang Art and Culture Park & Botanic Garden was constructed by queen Srinagarindra. After forbidding the plantation of opium poppy, the queen ordered the planting of commercial crops. This beautiful garden is built on the site of a weapon depot of the former big drug trafficker, Khun Sa.
There are hundreds of rare trees and flowers. You will have a quiet and relaxing visit.
Differences between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai are like twin sisters. They are both in the northern area of Thailand, not far from each other.
Chiang Mai is a famous old city. For most travelers, it is a popular and noisy tourist city, but it offers more activities. There are also some good shopping options in Chiang Mai, at the markets or in the many popular shopping malls.
Chiang Rai is famous for the quiet and leisurely atmosphere. It's less famous than Chiang Mai and also less traveled. You can enjoy the beautiful scenery around and some great trekking in forests.
|City||Main Activities||Atmosphere||Elephant experience||Cost (Meals and Hotel)|
|Chiang Mai||Historical temples
Wandering in the Old City
touristy old city
|half day/ day tour
|about 80% of
|Chiang Rai||Unique White Temple
and Black Temple
Mysterious Golden Triangle
Trekking in Forest
Mekong River Cruise
|Quiet and less
|Enjoy all-inclusive service
at Anantara or Four
Seasons Elephant Camp
|about 60% of
How to Get to Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai is close to Chiang Mai, and most people choose to take a bus to Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai after a visit there. But if you want to know more transportation options for getting to Chiang Rai, please read on.
Internal Flights from Bangkok and Phuket
It takes about 1 hour to fly to Chiang Rai from Bangkok. There are more than 20 direct flights a day available. Chiang Rai International Airport is about 8 km away from downtown Chiang Rai.
There are direct flights from Phuket Island to Chiang Rai that take about 2 hours.
ExpressBus from Chiang Mai
Although the two destinations are close to each other, the bus journey still takes 3 to 4 hours.
It takes about 20 minutes' drive on a tuktuk from the Old City in Chiang Mai to the Arcade Bus Station. From there you can take the green bus to Chiang Rai Bus Station.
Asia Highlights provides a comfortable private car from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai if you travel with us. There will be a professional, friendly tour guide and driver to pick you up in Chiang Mai and take you to your hotel in Chiang Rai.
You might like to read
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Explore Chiang Rai with Asia Highlights
Chiang Rai is an ideal place to enjoy a quiet and relaxing holiday in Thailand. If you want to go on a trip to Chiang Rai, Asia Highlights will be happy to do all the planning for you. You will be taken good care of by our professional and knowledgeable local guides. You don't need to worry about transportation and hotel transfers. You only need to decide on the dates and can leave the rest to us.
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