Admire the White Temple – Wat Rong Khun
The White Temple, also known as Wat Rong Khun, is located 13 km south of Chiang Rai. This temple is so famous that you might see it on almost postcards. The white buildings are built with plaster and shards of glass that shine brilliantly under the sunlight.
In fact, the amazing architecture and artsy objects really make the temple look like something out of a fairy tale. Also, it is believed that when you cross the bridge entering the White Temple, happiness remains and temptation is left behind.
The White Temple also features a Buddha statue, a golden temple, a 2nd museum and a souvenir shop selling souvenirs.
- Location: 13 km south of Chiang Rai, Thailand
- Entrance fee: 50 Baths
- How to go: by car, bus, songtaew (collective taxi)
- Best time to visit: morning
Visit The Blue Temple – Wat Rong Suea Ten
A more modern temple that is highly recommended by many tourists is the Bule Temple aka Wat Rong Suea Ten. This temple officially opened in 2016 and beckons with its vibrant colors. It is almost blue, inside and outside.
The place is about 3 kilometers from the Clock Tower in the center of Chiang Rai. Inside the temple stands a big white-sitting Buhda statue and the wall is filled with intricate paintings depicting the life of Buddha. Outside, you can see numerous blue statues including dragons and guards.
Even though the Blue Temple is in progress, it is free for tourists to admire, which is a real bonus. To escape the tourist hordes, you should visit there in the early morning or in the late afternoon.
- Location: 3 kilometers from the Clock Tower in the center of Chiang Rai
- Entrance fee: Free
- How to go: by car, tuk-tuk, or taxi
- Best time to visit: early morning or late afternoon.
Visit Wat Phra Kaew
If you want to fully soak up the religious feeling, Wat Phra Kaew is the right place for you. Unlike the White Temple and The Blue Temple which attracts tourists by their outstanding architecture, Wat Phra Kaew is a favorite haunt of local people.
Established in 1782 by King Rama I, the Buddhist temple houses the Emerald Buddha statue which is a potent religiopolitical symbol of Thai society. Today, the real Emerald Buddha is moved to the Grand Palace, in Bangkok and that in Wat Phra Kaew is actually a copy.
When visiting Wat Phra Kaew, remember to dress formally. Men must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves. Women must wear long skirts or long pants to cover up their knees, but no tight leggings are allowed. Shoulders should be kept covered and no see-through clothes, sleeveless tops can be worn.
- Location: 19, Area1, Trairat Road, Wiang District, Muang County, Chiang Rai
- Entrance fee: Free
- Opening hours: 8 am until 5 pm Daily
- How to go: by car, tuk-tuk
Explore the Tham Luong Cave
In 2018, a Thai soccer team trapped inside the Tham Luong Cave captured the world’s attention. At that time, the soccer team and their assistant coach got stuck there for almost two weeks. Torrential rains blocked their exit and the rescue operation was complicated. After making great efforts, the event came at a more or less happy ending when all 12 boys and the coach are successfully rescued, but a diver died.
Now, tourists are only allowed to enter a small section of the cave due to safety regulations. However, you can get more details about the deeply moving story by looking at detailed maps, a memorial statue and a recreated tunnel section around the cave.
- Location: Tham Luang–Khun Nam Nang Non-Forest Park, Mae Sai, Chiang Rai Province, Thailand
- Entrance fee: Free
- How to go: by walking, shuttle
- Best time to visit: in the daytime.
Tour Around Singha Park
Singha Park is situated on the outskirts of the city, about 6 km from the White Temple. It is a great place for total relaxation and a laid-back atmosphere.
Interestingly, Singha Park is owned by one of Thailand’s prime beer providers – the Singha Beer Company. Entering the park, you will be stunned by a huge Golden Lion monument where tourists always pause to snap some photos.
Inside the park, you can easily find a food court with cafes and shops. Walking around, you can find a lot of cycling routes, lakes, an educational farm, a mini zoo, fruit orchards, tea plantations and sports centers. Singha Park is quite large, so you may have to rent a car, tuk-tuk, or take small tourist trains to fully explore the park.
- Location: situated on the outskirts of the city, about 6 km from the White Temple
- Entrance fee: Free entrance, but zip lines, bikes and trains are charged.
- How to go: by car, tuk-tuk or tourist train
Hike To Khun Korn’s waterfall
Khun Korn’s Waterfall is the highest and most magnificent waterfall in Chiang Rai. This place is a paradise for those who want to be close to nature during their trip.
It is located 15 km west of Singha Park and 30 kilometers to the West of Chiang Rai City. After parking your car, it will take you 30 minutes to trek through a bamboo grove. The path is quite slippery, so remember to wear sturdy shoes and be careful at every step.
At 70 meters high, the waterfall offers an adventurous experience for visitors with vigorous water flow. You are allowed to swim there. Let’s dive into the waves to let the cool water refresh your mind. Remember that the site closes at 4:30 pm.
- Location: 15 km west of Singha Park and 30 km to the West of Chiang Rai City
- Entrance fee: Free entrance and parking
- How to go: by car, then hiking
- Recommended spending time: 2 hours
Experience Saturday Night Market
If you visit Chiang Rai at the weekends, the “Saturday or Sunday Walking Street” is a must-visit spot. Especially, on Saturday nights, Thanalai Road is packed with hundreds of stalls offering street food, handicrafts, and souvenirs. The street food is so great that
What’s more, sometimes you can enjoy live music performances as well as beautiful art displays of light and flowers along the street. This is a good opportunity for tourists to mingle with locals and grasp a better understanding of the local lifestyle.
- Location: Thanalai Road
- Opening time: every night
- Best time to visit: on weekends
Eat at Chiang Rai’s Night Bazaar
The Night Bazaar is located right in the heart of Chiang Rai City. It is highly recommended that you should come here to taste the food in wooden restaurants and grab something you like for souvenirs or mementos.
“Hot pot” is considered a delicacy that has a characteristic spicy flavor. The dish is cooked in a steaming metal pot and served with soups and baskets of meats, seafood, vegetables and herbs. You are able to mix these ingredients yourself in the boiling soup.
- Location: in the heart of Chiang Rai City
- Opening hours: 6 pm to midnight
- Highlights: “hot pot” and other street food
Go to Baan Dam Museum – The Black House
Another popular destination on this list is the Baan Dam Museum, which is about 15 kilometers north of Chiang Rai. This museum is commonly known as the Black House or Black Temple owing to the fact that it consists of forty small black houses.
Originally, the Baan Dam Museum is created by a well-known Thai artist, named Thawan Duchanee. His works often deal with objects like death and agony. Inside the building, you can find a collection of sculptures, animal bones, paintings, horns and even gold items. In fact, the artwork is displayed in a messy way and could make you feel uneasy. But it’s still worth your visit for its feature as an art gallery and combination museum.
- Location: 15 kilometers north of Chiang Rai
- Entrance fee: 80 Baths
- How to go: by car, songtaew, tuk-tuk
Visit Elephant Steps Sanctuary
The Elephant Steps Sanctuary is a perfect place for animal lovers, particularly those who enjoy playing with elephants. The sanctuary is designed as a semi-freedom place providing conditions that are as close as possible to their natural habitats.
For adults, there is a charge of about 2500 baths, and that for children is cheaper. The fee includes lunch, insurance, travel and drinks. At Elephant Steps Sanctuary, visitors will have a chance to follow elephants through the jungle, bathing and feeding them. You will also watch them behave as they should, and laugh with them.
- Location: close to Chiang Rai
- Entrance fee: 2500 baths/ adults
- Best for: animal lovers
If you have more time to spend in and around Chiang Rai, these are other recommended places for you to pay a visit:
- Wat Huay Pla Kung: admire the statue of Guanyin who is known as “the one who hears the cries of the world.”
- The Golden Triangle: a major opium cultivation and heroin production center
- Pong Phrabat Hot Springs: come here for total relaxation and try cooking eggs in hot water
Mae Salong: immerse yourself in numerous tea plantations