Home Thailand Travel GuideTop Things to Do in Chiang Rai

Top Things to Do in Chiang Rai

Begin your trip by exploring temples in Chiang Rai. Then take a private Thai cooking class and enjoy the Chiang Rai night bazaar at night. After relaxing in the city center, you can take a cruise on the great Mekong River to enjoy the marvelous mountain and rock scenery. You can get in touch with nature by visiting an elephant camp and trekking outside Chiang Rai. Not only that, you can also enjoy the artistic remnants of the Lanna Kingdom in Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park.

It takes at least 3 days to try most of the highlight activities. Chiang Rai is a small nice city with a great historical and cultural value. Its pleasant atmosphere, mountainous surroundings, historical places, and diverse ethnic minorities make this city a perfect destination for all kinds of travellers, especially for you who love to have a relaxed trip.

Highlights

  • The White Temple and the Black Temple are two notable tourist destinations in Chiang Rai.
  • Want to take a private Thai cooking class with professional tutor? – Only in Chiang Rai!
  • Don’t forget to venture out in Chiang Rai’s Night Bazaar.
  • You can join a day trip to the Golden Triangle, go on a trek and visit hill tribe villages, or explore the world of elephants.
  • Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park is one of the sites that show the ancient Lanna Kingdom arts.

Appreciating the Beauty of Black and White (Black Temple and White Temple)

Recommended visiting time: half a day

The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) and the Black Temple (Baan Dam Museum) are two of the most popular tourist spots in Chiang Rai. These two places sometimes are the primary reasons people come to Chiang Rai.

In the White Temple you will gain some insights into the worldview of Buddhism. As you walk across the bridge, you can see a ‘pond’ of sculptured hands that symbolize unrestrained desire. Then you will arrive at the primary building called the “Ubosot” which is all white and represents the idea to gain merit with a pure mind. Afterwards, you will arrive at the Golden Building which symbolizes the worldly desires that people focus on.

The Black Temple is actually a museum of the handiwork of Thawan Duchanee. The reason why it is called “Black Temple” is because everything in Baan Dam Museum is black or has a dark aura. Inside the Black Temple you can see an elephant skeleton, snake skin table runners, a giant crocodile skin painted black, and thousands of animal skulls, bones, skins, teeth, and taxidermy. Among the 40 wooden buildings, there is one building which is decorated with animal remains.

The White Temple can be explored in about two hours. After that, you can go to an authentic local restaurant to have lunch and then continue to the Baan Dam Museum (Black Temple). You might spend one or two hours in this black museum.

Participating in a Cooking Class With Ann

Recommended visiting time: around 3 hours

Taking a Thai cooking class is one of the fun activities you could do while you are in Thailand. In Chiang Rai you can learn to cook Thai food in an open-air kitchen of a traditional Thai home with Ann. It is the only cooking class in Chiang Rai that offers a customized menu with a private cooking tutor!

First, they will drive you to the local market to buy the ingredients and at the same time you can have fun trying out different Thai snacks and desserts. Then, they will bring you back to the kitchen and you can start your cooking lesson with Ann as your private tutor.

You will learn to cook four Thai recipes. Not only that, you will also get an album of your pictures which are taken during the cooking class and a guarantee for lifetime email support for your Thai food cooking skills.

Savoring the Street Food at the Night Bazaar

Recommended visiting time: around 3 hours

Chiang Rai Night Bazaar is a pleasant and fun place for an evening stroll. You can find an enjoyable corner to have dinner, or you can look for snacks and a beer, as well as souvenirs. Overall it is a worthwhile evening destination when you are in Chiang Rai.

There are two sections in the night bazaar. One section is aimed at local people, and another is aimed at tourists. In the “local” section you could have some drinks and snacks, and then move to the nearby “tourist” section for dinner. But if you want to enjoy the local atmosphere of Chiang Rai you could stay in the local area and get some Sukiyakis or a hot pot for dinner. After that you can wander around looking for souvenirs.

In Chiang Rai Night Bazaar you can savor tasty northern Thai dishes, draught beers, lots of fried insects, and also Thai snacks. Besides, you can also enjoy performances of a traditional Lanna dance show, live Thai pop and country singers, and traditional dancers. Some Thai souvenirs you could buy at the night market are hill-tribe fabrics, silver accessories, beads and needlework.

Exploring the World of Elephants at the Elephant Camp

Recommended visiting time: at least one over-night stay

One of the popular elephant camps in Chiang Rai is the one that is attached to Anantara Resort, called Dara Camp. You can have a journey through native forests and picturesque rice paddies with a cast of gentle giants.

In this elephant camp you can choose many program options offered by the resort, such as walking with the ”giants”; riding an elephant; learning elephant biology, behavior and conservation; practicing yoga surrounded by elephants; dining with the elephants, or having a picnic around the elephants.

Taking the Golden Triangle Day Trip

Recommended visiting time: one day

When you take a Golden Triangle Trip, you will be guided to visit the Hall of Opium Museum, to take a Mekong River cruise, to visit Chiang Saen for seeing remnants of the ancient Lanna Kingdom, to visit a Hmong hill tribe village to get acquainted with its culture, and to enjoy a giant Mekong catfish for dinner in Chiang Khong.

In The Hall of Opium Museum of the Golden Triangle you can see exhibits of old opium paraphernalia and learn about the damaging effects of opium as well as the opium-trade history that took place in this area many decades ago. Then you can take a two-hour Mekong River Cruise to Chiang Khong.

On this journey, you will be amazed by the spectacularly lush tropical mountain scenery and impressively stunning rock formations around the river. Make your first stop at Chiang Saen to see remnants of the Lanna Kingdom and then continue your cruise to a Hmong Hill Tribe Village. People in this village will welcome you with open arms and warm smiles. Finish your cruise at Chiang Khong, a peaceful town that is well-known for its giant Mekong catfish.

You can get a lot of valuable information about the history of the Golden Triangle and the surrounding culture, experience a relaxed-cruise, feel the pleasant atmosphere – all at the same time – if you go on this Golden Triangle day trip.

Trekking and Visiting the Hill Tribe Villages

Recommended visiting time: one day

Chiang Rai is a good place for a trekking. It gives you a chance to go deeper into the jungle, and what makes it more interesting is that you can visit many hill tribe villages along your way and learn from them.

Begin your trek through the national forest, and then visit the Akha, Lahu, Long Neck Karen hill tribe villages. They are indigenous people with a vast knowledge of their land, its plants, weather, birds, and animals.

On this trip you can learn how to cook a traditional forest lunch, using the versatile bamboo and learn about traditional weaving techniques. You can also help the local hill tribe communities by buying their souvenirs and snacks.

Appreciating the Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park

Recommended visiting time: 2-3 hours

Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park is a ‘wonderful gem’ in Chiang Rai. It is known for its mature trees, a botanical collection of indigenous and rare plants of the northern region, and its collection of ancient Lanna arts.

This park consists of three parts. The first part is the Haw Kham (the Golden Pavilion). It is a collection of 32 beautiful wooden houses that display Lanna traditional construction techniques. It is said that this building was established to celebrate Princess Mother’s 84th birthday in 1984. The second part is the garden. In this garden you will see unique and beautiful specimens, such as giant air plants.

Besides, you can enjoy some graceful details throughout the garden, such as urns at the edge of a pond, statues put amongst the plants, rocks and stones for natural chairs. The third part is the Haw Kaew (the museum). This museum is a place for artifacts and religious items made from teak. It also includes a collection of wooden sculptures with unique shapes and folds.

You get a great opportunity for nice photographs by visiting this park. Moreover, appreciating its beauty and elegance while getting informed about Thai history is one of the special experiences you will have in Chiang Rai.

Explore Chiang Rai With Asia Highlights

Asia Highlights will help you design a perfect trip and will do its best to accommodate your needs. Our professional and knowledgeable staff will provide you with guidance for selecting activities that will create the most enjoyable trip.

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