Home Thailand Travel GuideTop Attractions in Chiang Rai

Top Attractions in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai, located in the northern mountains of Thailand, is a more relaxed town than its sister town Chiang Mai. Its location in the mountains makes this small rural city have a very pleasant atmosphere that attracts travelers and many outdoor fans.

Chiang Rai offers natural beauty, authentic feel, friendly people, and a place to relax while enjoying its collection of temples and art, as well as experiencing its night entertainment, and of course, a great variety of street food!

Quick Facts

  • Chiang Rai is a city located in the mountains, so the surrounding atmosphere is fresh, and the average temperature is 24.6oC. Its dry season from October to February is the best period to visit this city.
  • The very famous White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) is definitely one of the most well-known temples in Chiang Rai.
  • The Black Temple (Baan Dam Museum) is a collection of 40 unique wooden buildings of various shapes and sizes.
  • You can gain insight into Mekong’s tribal communities by visiting the Hill Tribe Museum.
  • Saturday night in Chiang Rai is the best time to visit the night market to taste authentic local and popular Thai food. Also, don’t forget to see the splendid Clock Tower, one of the remarkable city landmarks in Thailand.
  • A famous village Doi Mae Salong has an interesting history: When the Chinese Nationalist Army refused to surrender to the Chinese Communists in 1949, it escaped to Burma through this mountainous area.
  • The Golden Triangle is the intersection of three countries: Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.

The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

Wat Rong Khun, or The White Temple, is a modern, uniquely beautiful, white Buddhist temple. With an entry fee that is only around US$ 2, you can enjoy the artistic details of the building as well as the brilliant idea behind the construction of this building.

As we walk across the entrance bridge, which represents the passage of life, before reaching the Buddha statue, we will see a ‘pond’ of sculptured hands reaching out, that symbolize unrestrained desire. After crossing the bridge we will enter the “Gate of Heaven” which is guarded by two unique creatures.

Then, when you arrive at the center building called “Ubosot”, you will be amazed by the all-white building. Inside the temple you will see murals depicting demon faces, all kinds of evil works in this world, interspersed with many superhero pictures and western idols. All of this makes this temple became a unique temple in Thailand.

Location: Wat Rong Khun is located 3 hours from Chiang Mai. You can hire a car if you bring your family or take the comfortable green bus from Chiang Mai for around US$ 9.5.

Travel essentials: It is good to arrive before 8 a.m., because at around 10 a.m. this place will be inundated by tourists. Besides, at around 9 a.m. you can see the sunshine hit many surfaces of the building which is covered with mirrored glass; this makes it glimmer beautifully. Please make sure you put your sunglasses on to enjoy this view.

The Black Temple (Baan Dam Museum)

Baan Dam Museum is a museum that consists of 40 wooden buildings created by Thai national artist, Thawan Duchanee. These buildings are all in black and often being regarded as the ‘mate’ of The White Temple, though it is not a temple.

You can see an elephant skeleton, snake skin table runners, giant crocodile skin painted black, and thousands of animal skulls, bones, skins, teeth, and taxidermy in this museum. Everything in Baan Dam Museum is black or has a dark aura, and one of the buildings is decorated with animal remains.

Location: Baan Dam Museum is located about 10 km outside the city center, and there are many transportation options for you to get there.

Travel essentials: Baan Dam Museum opens from 09:00 to 17:00, but they close for lunch from 12:00 until 13:00. The entrance ticket costs around US$ 2.6, and there are many food options around the entrance, like coffee shops, restaurants and souvenir stores.

Hill Tribe Museum

The Hill Tribe Museum is a museum and education center that has been open for 18 years. This museum provides a wealth of cultural information as well as authentic displays of the hill tribes of Thailand.

In this museum you can see typical clothing, equipment, and other traditional objects, for example bamboo tools for weaving. There are not only things to, see, but you can also listen to the information about issues that surround those tribes directly from hill tribe people who have been brought to the museum to support their village back home.

There are many volunteers that work in the museum to educate the tribal people on how to cope with the things that threaten their rural life.

Location: It is located around 12 km from Baan Dam Museum. You can reach this place by car in about 30 mins.

Opening hours: 24 hours

Location: Chak Phet Road

Travel Essentials: This museum and cultural education center is a good place to see before taking a hill-tribe trek. The Hill Tribe Museum is open from 08:30 until 18:00. The entrance fee is around US$ 1.6.

Clock Tower

The Clock Tower with its golden design, evening light and music, makes pretty Chiang Rai even prettier. This city timepiece is designed by the same person who designed The White Temple, so the architecture is quite similar.

Location: The Clock Tower stands steadfastly in the middle of a traffic junction in the city. You cannot miss it.

Travel essentials: You can visit The Clock Tower at 7, 8, or 9 in the evening to enjoy its splendid light and sound, as the clock chimes. Enjoying coffee in one of the coffee shops around the Clock Tower while seeing the color change from gold to pink to green, and hearing the buzz of the people, tuk-tuks and motorbikes, makes for a special experience in Chiang Rai.

Night Bazaar

Want to have an evening outing to explore the city on your own? Just venture out to Chiang Rai Night Bazaar. It is a nice place to spend your evening with so many outdoor food courts that offer authentic local and popular Thai food, such as Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup), Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad).

Not only foods, you can also find traditional souvenirs, like scarfs, antiques, silks and shirts. The combination with Thai traditional dancing and music makes the Night Bazaar even more enjoyable.

Location: The Night Bazaar is located near the bus terminal and city area, so it is easy to get there.

Travel essentials: The Night Bazaar is open every day but active from around 18:00. However, you can go to the food court and have some food for dinner first, because the shops will only be preparing to open at 18:00.

Doi Mae Salong

Doi Mae Salong is a hillside village that was settled by the Chinese 93rd Division who moved from Burma to reside on Thai territory in 1961. This village is famous for its serene landscape and pleasant atmosphere.

We can do hiking or trekking while enjoying the scenery of the terraced hillsides and the tea, coffee and fruit tree plantations. Besides, we can also experience the local tribe culture as well as enjoy delicious native Chinese dishes.

Location: Doi Mae Salong is located only 6 km from the border to Burma (Myanmar).

Travel essentials: The beauty of this place reaches its maximum in December and January, when all sakura blossoms and creates picturesque scenery.

Golden Triangle

A breathtaking history and a real heritage of century-long cultural and traditional border of three countries form this Golden Triangle. This area was once a major producer of opium, but today it is peaceful, with brilliant views from the hills behind the hall of opium.

The Chiang Rai Golden Triangle is growing rapidly as a tourist spot. It offers travelers a great feeling on seeing how two rivers and three rivers meet in one spot. Shopping at a bustling border market and meeting local tribe villagers will complete your journey experience in this place.

Location: It is about a 45 mins drive from Chiang Rai city.

Travel essentials: Bring your passport because you might want to do a short visit to Laos or Myanmar. Also, it is good to ensure that the sun is shining to enjoy your trip better.

Visit Chiang Rai with Asia Highlights

Asia Highlights will help you make your trip itinerary by selecting the places that suit you best. Get ready for an unforgettable experience in this wonderful city of Chiang Rai. Please contact us for further information.

13-Day Essence of Thailand Tour: Far More beyond Temples

14-Day Myanmar and Thailand Essence Tour: Travel in Smiles

15-Day Myanmar, Thailand and Bali Honeymoon: Creating Memories Together

You might like to read

Best Time to Visit Chiang Rai

Top Things to Do in Chiang Rai

How to Get in and around Chiang Rai

Shopping in Chiang Rai