top of page

What to do in Chiang Rai

Updated: Jan 15

In this article, we will share with you all our tips about Chiang Rai: how to get around, where to sleep, and what to do in this city in northern Thailand.

Chiang Rai is a city in northern Thailand, located about 3 hours away from Chiang Mai. This city is attracting more and more visitors due to its impressive temples.

Furthermore, as it is close to the border with Laos and Myanmar, it is one of the most common cities to visit in Thailand before leaving for another country.

Come and discover the tips we have for you about this city.

Disclosure: in this article, you will find some links to different experiences. All of them are reliable and if you book an experience through one of them you are helping us monetize our work in this project.

How to get

The best way to travel to Chiang Rai is, without a doubt, by bus. The most frequent is to take a bus from the bus station of Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.

We bought the ticket online, through 12go, which cost 7.5€ and the journey took about 3h30min. If you want, you can buy the ticket online here.

You can also book a day trip from Chiang Mai where you visit the city's main temples.

How to move

Although there are some local buses to get you to some of the city's main points, we think the best way to discover this city and its surroundings is by motorbike.

We rented a scooter for a day to visit some of the most well-known temples and we didn't regret it. Prices per day are around 5€-6€ per day.

driving motorcycle in Thailand
Best way to move arroung Chiang Rai

Our tip: When we rent a motorbike outside of hotels/hostels, we look on Google Maps for those with the best reviews. We ask for information and look for those where it is not necessary to leave your passport. Sometimes we have to leave a photocopy and/or a deposit, which is returned when we deliver the motorcycle.

Always check that everything is ok with the motorbike before leaving the place where you are renting it. Test all lights and take videos or photos of possible scratches that may exist. This way, you are preventing anyone from accusing you of a problem with the motorbike. We've never had any problems, but it's better to be safe than sorry!

Where to stay

The best area is the city center, close to the Clock Tower so you can be close to several local markets, where you can buy clothes, and jewelry or taste the local food.

We stayed at the Nai Ya Hotel and couldn't have been happier with the choice.

The hotel is very well decorated, in each corner there is a different detail that makes the space very welcoming. The bedrooms are big and super comfortable with a divine breakfast. The hotel also has a gym so you can stay in shape during your holidays and a large swimming pool that surrounds part of the hotel.

The staff was super friendly and always available to help with whatever was needed. We highly recommend it!

Curiosity: The word “Ya” in the name of the hotel comes from 'Somdet Ya' (Grandmother Princess), who was a princess who was responsible for the reforestation project of Doi Tung (a mountain in the province of Chiang Rai) and made life better for the locals.

What to do in Chiang Rai

White Temple / Wat Rong Khun

One of the most famous and visited temples in Thailand. In fact, it is not a temple but a work by the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. This work presents several Buddhist symbols such as the image of Buddha, Naga serpents, and circles of fire.

The facade is decorated with mirrored glass mosaics, which creates a shiny, sparkling effect when the sun is out.

The interior of the temple is equally impressive, with wall paintings depicting scenes from Buddhist heaven and hell.

The entrance ticket costs 100 baths but you can admire the temple from the outside, where there are a few more buildings that are worth a visit. It is important to remember, however, that it is a sacred site and that visitors are expected to dress appropriately and show respect while visiting.

White temple Chiang Rai
White temple

Fun fact: even the bathroom in this complex looks like a temple itself, we love it!

Blue Temple / Wat Rong Suea Ten

This was our favorite temple of the entire trip. It's different from all the others because it's practically all blue, with gold details.

It is a very recent temple, it opened its doors to visitors in 2016, although some parts are not yet finished.

Entrance is free and it is just a 7-minute motorbike ride from the city center. We highly recommend it!

Wat Huay Pla Kung

This temple is another of the city's highlights that attracts many visitors.

It is a large complex, consisting of a pagoda and a huge statue of the Goddess of Mercy, Guan Yin. The latter has a height of 25 floors and is at the top of a staircase that is flanked by incredible dragons! We think it is very beautiful and worth the visit.

Entry is free.

Chiang Rai Night Bazaar

Chiang Rai's night market is one of the places you can't miss when visiting the city. Here, you can find a wide variety of typical foods, clothes, crafts and souvenirs.

It is the ideal place to have dinner after a day exploring the region, it is located close to the city center.

This market is open every night. If you are in Chiang Rai during the weekend, take advantage and go to the Saturday or Sunday Night Market.

Golden Triangle

This is the meeting point of three countries - Thailand, Laos and Myanmar - which are separated by the Mekong River, famous for its role in the history of the opium trade between countries.

The region stands out for its historical importance and rich cultural diversity.

We loved getting to know Chiang Rai, if you come, we advise you to stay 2 days to discover everything that exists in the region calmly and truly appreciate the city.

Never forget to respect the local culture and rules, so that everyone can enjoy this destination in the best way.

Get travel insurance!

Traveling is an exciting experience, full of adventures and unforgettable moments. However, it is essential to be prepared for any unforeseen events during your trip. That's where travel insurance comes in, an indispensable ally to guarantee peace of mind and safety while exploring new destinations. The insurance we use is from IATI Seguros!

This has many types of travel insurance depending on your type of trip and different coverage. In addition, when purchasing insurance through our link, you are guaranteed a special 5% discount. Don't let unforeseen circumstances spoil your adventure!

Click here to get your discount.

travel insurance


bottom of page