Photo: Freighter on the Mekong.

Things to see and do

Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Chedi Luang is a wonderful old atmospheric temple and chedi set amid a grove of mature trees; if you only see one temple in Chiang Saen make it this one. Wat Chedi Luang translates as ‘royal stupa temple’, so named since it’s thought to have been the principal temple of Phaya Saen Pu’s capital city. If this is true, the temple then dates to the early 14th century and, according to ... Read more about Wat Chedi Luang .

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Chiang Saen Lake

Nong Beung Kai, or Chiang Saen Lake, is a natural lake and marsh area just outside town and one of the country’s prime bird-watching spots, particularly in the winter months from November to February, when large numbers of waterfowl and waders migrate here from cold, northern climes. It is worth visiting throughout the year though, as the lake is home to various resident species of duck, geese, ... Read more about Chiang Saen Lake .


For a small town, Chiang Saen is remarkably well endowed with markets. In addition to the permanent one, a Sunday morning walking street market pops up; a Saturday evening one opens, plus a Mekong riverside one, an unusual animal market and of course the usual collection of souvenir stalls. What’s more, they’re all within a short walk of each ... Read more about Markets .

Walking tour of the old city

Plenty of trees, little traffic and ancient ruins sprinkled just about everywhere mean historic Chiang Saen lends itself perfectly to a walking tour. The following is a short stroll, taking in some of the old town’s highlights, but if you’re feeling more energetic you can simply substitute feet for pedals on a longer cycling tour. Conversely if you’re short of time you could whizz around on ... Read more about Walking tour of the old city .

Boat trips

Just as you can visit Chiang Saen on a boat trip from Sob Ruak, you can do the same in reverse though, with less tourist traffic in this direction, prices will be slightly higher. A trip up to Sob Ruak and back taking in a Lao market en route should set you back 700 baht, including waiting time, or a visit to Lao only with a temple and market 500 baht. This is for a five-person boat, not per ... Read more about Boat trips .

Chiang Saen National Museum
Phaholyothin Rd, Chiang Saen
T: (053) 777 103

The 1957-founded Chiang Saen National Museum was originally constructed to safely house the multitude of local archaeological finds. More recently, it has been developed into a purpose built, well lai- out, two-floor exhibition building. Since the area has been inhabited for some 15,000 years there’s no lack of subject matter and exhibits cover the entire time frame. Other than Chiang Saen, ... Read more about Chiang Saen National Museum .

Wat Phrathat Chom Kiti

Prestigious Wat Phrathat Chom Kiti is situated on the slopes of a scenic forested hill just a couple of kilometres to the west of town. It’s the usual hilltop temple set up, so a flight of naga-lined steps head straight up the hill, or you can use the sealed road winding its way round and up to the summit. There’s 350 steps but at least it’s shady, and there are statues scattered among the ... Read more about Wat Phrathat Chom Kiti .

Wat Phrathat Pha Ngao

Wat Phrathat Pha Ngao, a temple as prestigious as Wat Phrathat Chom Kiti, lies just south of town close to the smaller ancient city known as Chiang Saen Noi. This was another 13th-14th century walled town and remains of brick stupas and temples also exist here too. As with Phrathat Chom Kiti, the date of its original founding is unclear with some claiming sixth century, and so contemporary with ... Read more about Wat Phrathat Pha Ngao .

Cycling tours

Despite having the least traffic of any town in Chiang Rai province -- you could have a game of badminton in the middle of most streets -- Chiang Saen town council have thoughtfully marked out cycle lanes on just about every single road in town -- even all the way to Sob Ruak. We’d call them dog yapping lanes -- the local mutts love them -- but it is a worthy idea, so get some wheels and put ... Read more about Cycling tours .

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Where to next?

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

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