Photo: Scenery surrounding Chiang Rai.

Things to see and do

Use the quick links below to jump to a particular section of our sights and activities coverage for Chiang Rai.


Wat Phra Kaew
Tri Rat Road across from Overbrooke Hospital.

This is the most highly revered wat in Chiang Rai and also, with it’s interesting museum and attractive grounds, the best one for a visit. Originally known as Wat Pa Yeah, (Temple of the Bamboo Grove), no-one is actually sure of its founding date but it has been around for a while and legend has it that in 1434 its stupa was struck by lightning and fell apart to reveal a concealed emerald ... Read more about Wat Phra Kaew .

Wat Phra Singh
Off Singhaklai Road, close to the old town hall and TAT office

Wat Phra Singh's principal entrance is situated down a small side street off Singhaklai Road – walk by the peach painted walls until you see the ornate white gateway. Directly ahead of you is the main worshipping hall with its elaborate tiered roof, constructed, it’s thought, in 1385 and which is regarded as a fine example of Chiang Saen style architecture. It used to house the prestigious ... Read more about Wat Phra Singh .

Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai

A visit to the famous ‘White Temple’, or Wat Rong Khun to give it it’s correct name, has become absolutely de rigeur for any visitor to Chiang Rai. Spectacular, spectacularly kitsch or just simply kitsch this highly ornate, all white, icing sugar temple certainly divides ... Read more about Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai .

Wat Prathat Doi Chom Thong
Doi Thong Rd

According to Thai historians there has been a stupa on this low hill since the 10th century, when it was raised to hold a Buddha relic – hence the ‘Prathat’ title. The local king at the time – presumably Mon – ordered some relics which had come into his hands to be split between the 3 hill-top temples of Wat Doi Tung, Wat Doi Chom Thong and Wat Prathat Chom Kiti in Chiang Saen district. ... Read more about Wat Prathat Doi Chom Thong .

Wat Huay Sai Khao

Another entry into Chiang Rai’s highly unusual temple category is Phan district’s incredible Wat Huay Sai Khao. This isn’t a white temple, powder blue one, or even a black house but an astonishing multi-coloured disney-esque affair. We came across it completely by accident and even locals in Chiang Rai didn’t seem to know of its existence, so you certainly won’t see any foreign visitors ... Read more about Wat Huay Sai Khao .

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Oub Kham Museum
81/1 Nakai Rd
T: (053) 713 349

Oub Kham Museum was another of those sites where we moaned about the admission price but came out thoroughly glad we paid. An amazing and priceless display; beautifully presented in a spectacular setting. Seeing we had a particular interest in Southeast Asian ethnology the museum curator, Julasak Suriyachai, gave us a personal guided tour – especially interesting since he is a direct ... Read more about Oub Kham Museum .

Baan Dam
Ban Du district, north of Chiang Rai
T: (089) 767 4444

Another of Chiang Rai’s more extraordinary sites, in a town that’s blessed with several rather eccentric attractions, is the highly unusual Baan Dam. Commonly known as the Black House it’s a park containing a diverse and sprawling series of buildings, displays, sculptures and installations, lying in Ban Du district a short hop north of town. The park and highly eclectic contents are the ... Read more about Baan Dam .

Hill-tribe Museum and Population and Community Development Education Centre
620/25 Thanalai Rd (3rd floor)
T: (053) 740 088

Not really sure how appropriate a ‘museum’ is when tens of thousands of the subject matter – i.e. hill-tribe minorities - live in the hills outside town? Perhaps cultural centre of something would have been better and contents are mostly everyday objects and standard traditional dress that you can still see in many villages anyway. Explanations tend to be anecdotal; a particular festival or ... Read more about Hill-tribe Museum and Population and Community Development Education Centre .

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Chiang Rai Night Bazaar
Off Phaholyothin Rd, Chiang Rai

A fraction of the size of Chiang Mai’s more famous night bazaar, the mini version in downtown Chiang Rai is still a pleasant and fun place for an evening stroll and an excellent option for snacks and a beer or ... Read more about Chiang Rai Night Bazaar .

Municipal market

There’s an extensive municipal market area off both sides of Uttarakit Road, (one block north of Thanalai), and goes by several names, including Talad Ngam Muang, Talad Tesaban and Talad Luang Chiang Rai. This sprawling labyrinth of indoor and pavement stalls is the city’s largest wet market and as one section closes another opens so it is, de facto, open 24 hours. You’ll see local ... Read more about Municipal market .

Chiang Rai walking street market

If your calendar doesn’t permit a visit to either of Chiang Mai’s Saturday or Sunday walking street markets never fear: Chiang Rai also has a couple of good ones. In content they are very similar: clothing, hill-tribe chic, the ubiquitous carved soap and candles, plenty of food and drink stalls and general bric-a-brac although even if you have visited the larger, big city ones, provincial ... Read more about Chiang Rai walking street market .

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Cooking classes

Cooking classes

If you haven’t done a course in Bangkok, Chiang Mai or elsewhere yet then this may be your last chance to put into practice some Thai cookery before you head off on a slow boat down the Mekong. We came across at least two well publicised classes, though there may be more, and they looked equally good. Both have kitchens outside of town so don’t have an office or kitchen in town and you’d ... Read more about Cooking classes .

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Hiking, walking tours and itineraries

Trekking from Chiang Rai

As Chiang Rai province has less mountain and forest cover than Mae Hong Son or Chiang Mai, trekking opportunities are correspondingly more limited. The principal areas for organised trekking are in Lum Nam Kok National Park north of the Kok River up towards Mae Salong and southwards to Doi Chang. The mountainous areas further south and southeast are less attractive for trekkers due to a smaller ... Read more about Trekking from Chiang Rai .

Motorcycling the Chiang Rai loop

The vast majority of the roads in northern Thailand are paved and 99 times out of a 100 a Honda Dream will be more than sufficient (as long as you don't mind the occasion sections spent permanently in first gear). A very interesting and little trafficked route is the Chiang Rai Loop -- a fun and beautiful ride with dozens of kilometres of stunning scenery and next to no ... Read more about Motorcycling the Chiang Rai loop .

Chiang Rai City Walking Tour

Busy Chiang Rai City doesn’t immediately appear a good candidate for walking tours but, keeping to the back streets and dodging through a few market lanes, you can do a very pleasant and interesting little half day stroll around town, taking in most of the sights and including a few good coffee and snack ... Read more about Chiang Rai City Walking Tour .

Kok Valley Cycling tour

Perhaps better referred to as “Up the Kok Without a Paddle“, since this day tour up the left bank of the Kok River and returning to Chiang Rai by the right bank involves no boats at all and is eminently suitable for cycling or, for the less energetic, motorbike. The scenery is great; sights are varied, the route is mostly flat for cyclists and in good condition for motorbikes. The loop is ... Read more about Kok Valley Cycling tour .

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Day trips

Doi Tung

Chiang Rai’s spectacular Doi Tung Range stretches from Mae Fah Luang in the south up to Mae Sai district in the north, with the Burmese border demarking the mountains’ western slopes. These rugged peaks rise to over 1,500 metres and as with Chiang Mai’s Doi Ang Khang massif was until relatively recently a wild and inaccessible spot. These days it’s freqented by minibus convoys of ... Read more about Doi Tung .

Shorter Mae Salong loop

Wonderful scenery, varied sites and relatively easy riding make this short version of the Mae Salong loop through the mountains of western Chiang Rai a great trip if you have a couple of days to spare. The lengthier Mae Salong loop takes in Chiang Dao, Fang and Tha Ton but this is a shorter, two-day road trip, starting and finishing in Chiang Rai, and including an overnight stay in Mae ... Read more about Shorter Mae Salong loop .

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Chiang Rai? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Thailand.

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