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Ultimate Travel Guide to Chiang Rai, Thailand

Ultimate Travel Guide to Chiang Rai, Thailand

Nestled in the picturesque northern region of the country, Chiang Rai is a city that captivates travellers with its enchanting landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant local life. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the top attractions, must-visit landmarks, delectable dining spots, and exciting activities that Chiang Rai has to offer. Read on!

Time Zone

Indochina Time (GMT+7)

Best Time to Go 

Best Time to Go
Image source: iStock

The best time to visit Chiang Rai is during the cool and dry season, which generally lasts from November to February. During these months, the weather is pleasant with cooler temperatures, making it more comfortable for outdoor activities and sightseeing. 

It’s considered the peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds and higher accommodation prices.

Things to Know 

Things to Know
Image source: iStock

Language: Thai

Currency: Thai Baht (THB)

Dress Code: When visiting temples or sacred sites, it’s essential to dress respectfully. Both men and women should avoid wearing revealing clothing, and shoulders and knees should be covered.

Local Customs: Chiang Rai has a rich cultural heritage, so it’s important to be mindful of local customs and traditions. Be polite and respectful to locals, especially in rural areas and when visiting hill tribe villages.

Street Food: Chiang Rai offers a variety of delicious street food options. Enjoy the local cuisine, but be cautious about hygiene and choose vendors with a good reputation.

Elephant Tourism: If you plan to visit an elephant camp or sanctuary, make sure it promotes ethical and responsible practices, such as not offering elephant rides or performances.

How to Get around Chiang Rai

How to Get around Chiang Rai
Image source: iStock

Tuk-tuks: Tuk-tuks are three-wheeled vehicles commonly used for short trips within the city. They are a convenient and fun way to travel and can be found near tourist areas, markets, and major attractions.

Taxis: Metered taxis are available in Chiang Rai and can be found at the airport, bus stations, and major hotels. You can also use ride-hailing apps like Grab to book a taxi.

Songthaews: These are shared taxis or converted pickup trucks with bench seats in the back. They follow specific routes around the city and are an affordable option for getting around. 

You can flag them down or find them at designated songthaew stations.

Motorbike Rental: Renting a motorbike is a popular choice for travellers who want more flexibility in exploring the city and its surroundings. Many rental shops offer motorbikes for daily or weekly rates.

Bicycle Rental: Chiang Rai is relatively bike-friendly, and you can rent bicycles to explore the city at a leisurely pace. Some hotels and guesthouses also provide complimentary bikes to guests.

Walking: Chiang Rai’s city centre is compact and easy to navigate on foot. Many of the main attractions, markets, and restaurants are within walking distance of each other.

Private Car Rental: If you prefer more privacy and independence, you can rent a car from various rental agencies in Chiang Rai. This option allows you to explore the region at your own pace.

Local Buses: Chiang Rai has a network of local buses that connect different parts of the city and nearby towns. However, the schedules might be less frequent, and it could be more challenging to navigate if you don’t speak Thai.

Where to Stay 

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort

Address: 229, Wiang, Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai 57150, Thailand

Phone: +6653784084

Pricing: ฿฿฿

Book Now

Nestled amidst the lush greenery and overlooking the majestic Mekong River, Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort is a true paradise for nature lovers. 

Here, you can indulge in an unforgettable experience by staying in luxury rooms and enjoying the unique opportunity to interact with elephants responsibly. 

It also offers stunning sunset views and a tranquil ambiance that makes it a memorable retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort

Address: 221, Kwae Wai Rd, Rop Wiang Sub-district, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Phone: +6653603333

Pricing: ฿฿

Book Now

Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort provides a delightful retreat along the serene Mae Kok River. Its lush gardens and riverside pool add to its tranquillity, offering a serene backdrop for guests’ stay. 

Each morning,you’ll be greeted with a fantastic breakfast spread. One of the main highlights of the resort is its pool area — overlooking the picturesque river. 

It proves to be an ideal spot to unwind and soak up the peaceful ambiance after a day of exploring nearby attractions like the White Temple and Hill Tribe Villages.

Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle

Address: 499 MOO1 T. Vieng, Chiang Rai, Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai 57150, Thailand

Phone: +6653910200

Pricing: ฿฿฿ 

Book Now

For those seeking an extraordinary escape, Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle offers an unparalleled luxury camping experience. 

Set within the lush jungle and overlooking the mesmerising Golden Triangle, the elegantly furnished tents provide a unique blend of adventure and comfort. 

With daily activities like elephant trekking and exploring local markets, this resort ensures an unforgettable journey in the heart of nature.

The Legend Chiang Rai Boutique River Resort & Spa

Address: 124/15 Moo21, 7273 Kohloy Road Robwiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Phone: +6653910400

Pricing: ฿ 

Book Now

Nestled on the banks of the tranquil Mae Kok River, The Legend Chiang Rai Boutique River Resort & Spa offers a charming retreat with a touch of traditional Thai architecture. 

Here, you can relax in spacious rooms or villas and enjoy the resort’s lush gardens and riverside pool. What sets it apart is it serves delicious Thai dishes which you can savour by the river. 

Le Patta Hotel Chiang Rai

Address: 610 Phaholyothin Rd, Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Phone: +6653600680

Pricing: ฿฿

Book Now

Le Patta Hotel Chiang Rai offers a modern and cosy stay in the heart of Chiang Rai’s city centre. It has a convenient location where you can explore nearby markets, temples, and other attractions with ease. 

One of the highlights of Le Patta Hotel is its lovely swimming pool which offers a refreshing oasis for relaxation. 

Where to Eat 

Lalitta Café Chiang Rai

Address: 392 Rim Kok, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand

Operating Hours: Daily 8 AM to 8 PM

Pricing: ฿฿

Category: Café


Lalitta Café is a culinary haven that promises to take your taste buds on an unforgettable journey.

As soon as you step in, you’re greeted by an enchanting atmosphere that’s straight out of a fairy tale. The design and decor are simply impressive – a blend of natural beauty and modern aesthetics that create a captivating ambiance.

But let’s talk about the food – a true feast for both the eyes and the palate. For those looking to capture the perfect Instagram shot, Lalitta Café is a paradise. 

With its myriad of angles, beautiful waterfalls, and even a charming windmill, there’s no shortage of picture-perfect spots.

While the food and ambiance are undoubtedly captivating, it’s important to note that prices here are on the higher side. The quality and experience are there, but be prepared for a bit of a dent in your wallet.

Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House

Address: Moo 2, 179 Bannrongseartean Soi 3, Mueang Chiang Rai District, 57100, Thailand

Operating Hours: Daily 9 AM to 10 PM

Pricing: ฿฿฿

Category: Café and Thai Restaurant


If you’re a coffee lover and at the same time want to savour some Thai cuisines, Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House is a must-visit spot! 

This charming coffee house and restaurant is surrounded by lush greenery, making it a perfect oasis to relax and enjoy a cup of joe. Plus, their cakes are to die for!

Kunda Café 

Address: 372 Trairat Rd, Tambon Wiang, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Operating Hours: Daily except Monday 11 AM to 4 PM

Pricing: ฿฿

Category: Vegan restaurant


If you’re a vegan, finding a place with delectable options can sometimes be a challenge. Luckily, Kunda’s here to save the day.

One of Kunda’s popular dishes is the vegan burger and for dessert, you can have vegan chocolate cake! The fact that they’re made with all-natural whole food ingredients makes it even more remarkable.

Kunda also boasts a tranquil and beautiful ambiance, making it a perfect place to unwind and savour the incredible food.

While the food and atmosphere at Kunda is undoubtedly top-notch, it’s worth noting that the prices are slightly higher compared to other similar restaurants in the area.

Canary Café & Restaurant

Address: 1208, Mae Kon, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Operating Hours: Daily 10 AM to 6 PM

Pricing: ฿฿

Category: Café & Restaurant


Canary Café & Restaurant is a picturesque café located along the valley, offering a delightful and refreshing experience to its guests. 

The combination of delicious food and beautiful nature makes this café a hidden gem worth exploring. Here, you can take a leisurely stroll amidst the various streams and trees. 

For those coming from Chiang Mai, this lovely café serves as an excellent pitstop to rest and recharge. You can expect ample parking space for a hassle-free visit.

Canary Café & Restaurant itself is an elegant and attractive setting, offering a diverse menu of delectable dishes. Their smoothies and homemade desserts are a hit!

Barrab Restaurant Chiang Rai

Address: 897 60 Phaholyothin Rd, Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Operating Hours: Daily except Wednesday 11 AM to 8 PM

Pricing: ฿

Category: Thai Restaurant


Barrab Restaurant in Chiang Rai is an absolute gem for anyone seeking a delicious and authentic northern Thai meal that also caters to a healthy and clean lifestyle.

Vegetarians will find plenty of well-considered options here, as they offer a diverse selection of local specialties that cater to different tastes.

What to Do in Chiang Rai

Visit the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

Address: Pa O Don Chai, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Phone: +6653673579


This stunning masterpiece is a must-visit attraction in Chiang Rai. With its intricate design and sparkling white exterior, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a magical realm. 

As you enter the temple grounds, you’ll be welcomed by a bridge guarded by eerie sculptures that symbolise the cycle of life and death. It’s a bit surreal, but it adds to the temple’s mystical charm.

Inside the main temple hall, you’ll see stunning murals and intricate artwork. One thing we loved about the White Temple is that it’s not just a typical ancient temple.

It incorporates contemporary elements, including pop culture references and movie characters. You might spot a quirky mural featuring Superman or even Kung Fu Panda!

Before leaving, make sure to check out the beautiful temple gardens, where you’ll find more surprises. The whole experience was like stepping into a fantasy world.

Just a quick tip, make sure to arrive early in the morning to avoid the crowds, especially if you want some perfect Insta-worthy shots.

Explore the Blue Temple (Wat Rong Suea Ten)

Address: 306 Side 2, Tambon 303, Mae Kok Road, Rim Kok Subdistrict, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand

Phone: +66643473636


Exploring the Blue Temple or Wat Rong Suea Ten is a fantastic experience! It’s just as enchanting as its name suggests.

As you approach the temple, you’ll be mesmerised by its brilliant blue hue. Its vibrant colour will immediately set it apart from other temples, giving it a surreal and magical vibe.

The interior walls are covered with mesmerising murals that tell stories from Buddhist mythology. Each piece of artwork is beautifully painted and holds its own significance.

One thing that struck us was the serene and peaceful atmosphere of the Blue Temple. It’s a wonderful place to take a moment for reflection and introspection.

In addition to its architectural beauty, the temple grounds are well-maintained and adorned with lush gardens, adding to the overall charm.

Wander around the Black House (Baan Dam Museum)

Address: 333 Nang Lae, Mueang District, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand

Phone: +6653776333

As you approach the Black House, get ready to be intrigued by its dark and mysterious exterior. The collection of unique buildings will immediately capture your attention and pique your curiosity.

When you step inside, you’ll be greeted by an impressive array of art pieces and sculptures. The interior is adorned with a vast collection of animal remains, antiques, and intriguing artefacts.

It is packed with gloomy, creepy pieces, sculptures, and installations that highlight the darkest aspects of life rather than exhibiting artworks of various sorts and sizes that are vivid and colourful. 

One thing that sets the Black House apart is its unconventional artwork and design. You’ll come across thought-provoking installations and sculptures that showcase the artist’s perspective on life, death, and the cycle of nature.

Discover the Golden Triangle 

Address: 932M+W6X, 370 Tha Phae Road, Wiang, Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai 57150, Thailand

As you venture into the Golden Triangle, you’ll be stepping into a world where Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos meet.

The very atmosphere seems to buzz with the energy of history and culture. You’ll have the chance to explore vibrant markets, each offering a unique blend of local goods and crafts from the surrounding countries.

One of the highlights is the panoramic viewpoint that allows you to stand at the meeting point of these three countries. It’s an awe-inspiring sight that truly puts into perspective the geographical and cultural connection.

Experience the Hill Tribe Culture at a local village

Step away from the ordinary and into a world where traditions, craftsmanship, and a way of life have been preserved for generations.

The warm hospitality of the Hill Tribe (row 724) people will embrace you as you learn about their customs, beliefs, and daily routines. You can engage in their daily activities, from traditional weaving to the art of crafting intricate jewellery. 

It’s a chance to witness firsthand the skills and artistry that have been passed down through the ages.

The experience offers a glimpse into the heart and soul of these cultures, leaving you with a profound appreciation for their way of life.

Enjoy the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar for shopping and street food

Address: WR4M+5M2, Tambon Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

As the sun sets, the streets at Chiang Rai come alive with a vibrant energy that’s simply infectious. Whether you’re a shopaholic or a food enthusiast (or both), this is the place to be.

Stroll through a maze of stalls showcasing a treasure trove of local handicrafts, textiles, jewellery, and souvenirs. The bazaar is a haven for those seeking unique and authentic finds – a paradise for collectors and bargain hunters alike.

You can also witness live performances and cultural displays that will add to the festive atmosphere. It’s a place where you can truly experience the pulse of Chiang Rai’s nightlife.

Take a relaxing dip in the Pong Phra Bat Hot Springs

Address: XRGM+Q9G, Ban Du, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand

Unwind and rejuvenate in nature’s own spa at the Pong Phra Bat Hot Springs. Picture yourself immersed in soothing thermal waters, surrounded by lush greenery and tranquil vibes. 

The mineral-rich waters are said to have healing properties, making it the perfect place to soak away your worries and let the warmth melt your stress.

Marvel at the unique Clock Tower of Chiang Rai

Address: WR4J+V94 Suksathit Tambon Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

As day turns into night, the Clock Tower of Chiang Rai comes alive with a captivating light show. Its intricate design and captivating aura are a true testament to Chiang Rai’s artistic spirit. 

It’s a charming spectacle you don’t want to miss!

Visit the Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park

Address: 313 Moo 7, Ban Pa Ngew, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Phone: +66537166057


Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park is a haven of creativity, showcasing an impressive collection of traditional and contemporary art from various Asian cultures. 

You can stroll through lush gardens, admire intricate sculptures, and explore captivating exhibitions that offer insights into the region’s rich heritage.

Explore the Doi Tung Royal Villa and Mae Fah Luang Garden

Address: 7RP5+VRC, Mae Fa Luang, Mae Fa Luang District, Chiang Rai 57240, Thailand

Doi Tung Royal Villa’s elegant architecture and charming interiors provide a glimpse into the lives of royalty. 

Meanwhile, the meticulously landscaped gardens boast a riot of colours, showcasing a variety of flowers and plants. It’s a place where history, culture, and nature seamlessly intertwine, creating a captivating experience for all who visit.

Where to Shop

Central Chiang Rai


Operating Hours: 

  • Monday to Friday- 10:30 AM to 9 PM
  • Saturday and Sunday – 10 AM to 9 PM

Phone: +66 52 020 999


Central Chiang Rai is where the heart of the city beats. Imagine a place where tradition mingles effortlessly with modernity – that’s Central Chiang Rai for you.

Here, you’ll find a treasure trove of local markets, trendy cafés, and vibrant street scenes. You’ll find local eateries serving up authentic Thai dishes.

But that’s not all – Central Chiang Rai is also home to chic boutiques, art galleries, and bustling markets that offer a true glimpse into the local lifestyle. It’s the perfect spot to pick up unique souvenirs and immerse yourself in the rhythm of the city.

Walking Street Chiang Rai


Operating Hours: 

  • Every Saturday only – 3 PM to 10 PM

Walking Street Chiang Rai comes alive with a lively energy that’s hard to resist.

Imagine a long stretch of road lined with stalls, each offering a little slice of local life. From handmade crafts and clothing to mouthwatering street food, there’s something here for everyone.

But wait, there’s more! Live music and entertainment are also present to enhance the scene. It’s a place where you can shop, feast, and soak in the local culture, all in one exciting go.

The Barrel Chiang Rai

The Barrel Chiang Rai's Homepage
Image source: Pisit Ujjin


Operating Hours: 

  • Daily 11 AM to 9 PM

Phone: +66 52 020 674


The Barrel Chiang Rai is a place where wine enthusiasts and curious novices alike can immerse themselves in a world of fine vintages and exquisite flavours.

Its selection of wine and snacks is top-notch – a true paradise for any wine enthusiast or anyone looking to enjoy a quality treat.

What struck us was the decadent array of choices. The variety of wines, spirits, and beers was simply mind-boggling. 

Now, we won’t sugarcoat it – The Barrel Chiang Rai’s wine store isn’t exactly a bargain bin. However, every penny spent is well worth it. 

And it’s not just about the wine! Imagine our surprise when we discovered they had the best ice cream too. 

It was the perfect way to cap off our visit – a little indulgence to complement the sophisticated wine experience.

Robinson Department Store Chiang Rai

Robinson Department Store Chiang Rai's Homepage
Image source:


Operating Hours: 

  • Daily 11 AM to 9 PM

Phone: +66 53 179 990

Robinson Department Store Chiang Ra is a shopping paradise  where you can find everything you need under one roof – and maybe a few things you didn’t even know you needed!

From fashion to electronics, cosmetics to home essentials, Robinson has a vast selection that’ll have you browsing for hours. 

The modern and well-organised layout also ensures that your shopping spree is a breeze.

And when hunger strikes, you’re in luck – the food court offers a variety of mouthwatering options to refuel and recharge. 

Big C Chiang Rai 1


Operating Hours: 

  • Monday to Friday- 10:30 AM to 9 PM
  • Saturday and Sunday – 10 AM to 9 PM

Phone: +66 52 020 999


Big C Chiang Rai 1 is a massive hypermarket and is your ultimate one-stop shop for your grocery needs.

The aisles are stocked with a wide range of products, making it a convenient and efficient place to tick off your grocery list.

What to Expect from Chiang Rai’s Weather

What to Expect from Chiang Rai’s Weather
Image source: iStock

Cool Season (late October to February): This is the most popular time to visit Chiang Mai due to its pleasant weather. Temperatures are milder, with average daytime highs ranging from 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F).

Nights can be cooler, with temperatures dropping to around 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F), especially in the mountainous areas. It’s relatively dry during this period, making it a great time for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

Hot Season (March to May): Chiang Mai experiences hot and dry weather during this season.Daytime temperatures can soar, with averages ranging from 30°C to 35°C (86°F to 95°F).

Some days might reach even higher temperatures, especially in April. The nights remain warm, providing some relief from the daytime heat. It’s advisable to stay hydrated and seek shade during the hottest parts of the day.

Rainy Season (June to September): The rainy season brings more frequent rainfall and increased humidity to Chiang Mai.Rain showers are common, often occurring in the afternoon or evening.

However, they are usually short-lived and followed by sunny intervals. Temperatures are still warm, with daytime highs ranging from 28°C to 32°C (82°F to 90°F).

The countryside becomes lush and green, making it a beautiful time to explore nature.

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