Top Places to Visit in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Rarely, tourist try to take the off beaten path on an international vacation, but once they discover what treasures low-key destinations hold, they would spend most of their vacation searching for such extraordinary experiences. This is when you stop being a tourist and become a wanderer. Thailand is one of the most popular destinations to visit in Asia and is highly renowned for its pristine beaches, culture and beautiful cities and townships. While Thailand has always garnered a lot of attention from its famous destinations like Pattaya, Krabi, Bangkok, and Phuket, it also had to face the downside of overcrowded tourism. Take an offbeat trail and venture out to Chiang Rai located on the north of the country for a marvellous travel experience that combines quaint hilly towns, unique cultural splendours, spectacular mountain sceneries, and verdant forest trails. If you are wondering what to do in Chiang Rai on a vacation, check out our top selection of popular attractions in this region.

Mae Fah Luang Art & Cultural Park

mae fah luang art & cultural park in Chiang rai

One of the must-visit attraction in Chiang Rai is the Mae Fah Luang Art & Cultural Park. This sprawling manicured landscape and museum is home to one of the largest collection of Lanna artefacts in Thailand. Mainly consisting of wooden artifacts and folk art, the museum offers an in-depth insight into the art and cultural heritage of the Lanna kingdom. This Chiang Rai tourist attraction is expansively consisting of a Golden Pavilion which showcases intricate wooden carvings on pillars, stairways, statues, and walkways, along with a botanical garden which has a stupendous collection of rare foliage. This is an ideal place to visit in Chiang Rai to get a glimpse into the 400 years old history and cultural heritage of the destination.

Wat Rong Khun

Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai

Also known as the ‘White Temple’, this Thailand attraction is exceptionally different from other temple structures of Thailand. This magnificent white temple dominates the landscape with its unconventional gleaming white ambiances that are embedded with traditional Buddhist principles as well as contemporary influences of the modern era. The temple has some unusual displays such as a pond filled with hands outreached towards the bridge over it and murals of famous movies characters such as Matrix and Kung Fu Panda. The temple is a work in progress and continues to expand every year. There is an admission cost of 50 Thai Baht for foreign travellers.

Wat Rong Seur Tean

Wat Rong Seur Tean Chiang Rai

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Commonly known as the Blue Temple, this fascinating temple is another evidence of Chiang Rai’s obsession with mystical creations. The temple is another one of Thailand’s unconventional temples where the colour scheme is vibrant blue, white and gold. The temple is adorned in intricate indigo-hued designs embellished with gold and statues of giant demons and dancing tigers. One of the main highlights of the temple is the grand white Buddha statue set in the grand hall. The temple symbolizes the Buddhist teachings and its blue colour depicts the Buddhist belief of wisdom, purity, and healing.

Chiang Rai Old Town

Chiang Rai Old Town

Though most of Chiang Rai’s popular temples and attractions are located out of the city limits, your trip to this region would be incomplete if you do not take a stroll around the Old Town of Chiang Rai. The town is filled with Buddhist arts and rustic temples and offers a beautiful insight into the royal dynasty that ruled the regions decades ago. One of the popular attractions you ought to visit is the Wat Phra Kaew which is the original place where the Emerald Buddha that currently sits at the Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok was discovered. Other attractions to visit are The clock Tower, Tung Gardens, King Mengrai’s Monument, and Lanna styled Buddhist shrines. If you are in Chiang Rai during November to January, you can take the city tour on a tram that takes you along all the iconic attractions of the city.

Chiang Rai Night Markets

If Bangkok and Pattaya’s Night Markets feel awfully crowded; you can experience a calmer yet lively night market at Chiang Rai. Though they are much smaller than other popular towns of Thailand, it offers a splendid retail experience. Sprawling stalls of food and merchandises pop up at dusk and the ambiance is filled with bustling murmurs and aromas of lip-smacking Thai cuisines. You can get a myriad of goods and souvenirs here right from fabrics, glassware, handicrafts and much more. The food scene is dominated by local Thai food where you can sample some of the best Pad Thai and tempuras you have ever tasted in your life.

Natural Hot Springs

Relax in natural thermal waters while enjoying a panoramic view of Chiang Rai’s incredibly picturesque nature vistas. Though these hot springs are simple pools on mountainous terrain, it offers a great relaxing experience amid nature. Chiang Rai is one of the few places in Thailand that has natural thermal waters steaming and bubbling on its surface. Some of its famous hot springs is Pong Phra Bat Hot Spring, Huay Mak Liem and Pha Soet Hot Springs which are located away from the city center of Chiang Rai and can be opted as an idyllic excursion getaway in the lap of nature.

The Golden Triangle

Chiang Rai is located on the northern tip of Thailand on the shores of Mekong River. Its strategic location makes it an ideal spot to witness the meeting point of three countries – Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Known as the Golden Triangle, this viewpoint offers amazing scenic views of the surrounding mountain landscapes shrouded in the lush wilderness and the confluence of Ruak River and Mekong River which acts like a naturally made border for these three countries.

Chiang Rai’s mellowed ambiance, sleepy towns, and crowd-free attractions come as a great relief from the tourism chaos in Thailand. So enjoy while it lasts! Next time you get your Thailand visa done, plan a trip to Chiang Rai and take full advantage of its beautiful sights and natural splendours before this charming city becomes a familiar spot as an offbeat Thai destination

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