Located in Thailand, Chiang Rai is one of the northernmost cities in the country. Famous for its authenticity and its magnificent Buddhist temples, Chiang Rai is a must while exploring Thailand. In this blog post, I share with you the best things to do in Chiang Rai which includes all my recommendations about how to get there, where to stay, and how to move around. After reading my Chiang Rai guide, you will have all the information you need to plan your trip to Chiang Rai accordingly and enjoy this wonderful region to the fullest!
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How to get to Chiang Rai?
Located in South East Asia, Thailand is easily accessible either by plane, bus, boat, or car. If you come from outside Asia, you will probably land in Bangkok (the capital of Thailand). From Bangkok, you have several possibilities to reach Chiang Rai, located in the North of the country.
Chiang Rai is home to an International Airport (CEI), which makes its access super easy. Therefore, you can easily reach the city by taking a 1-hour flight from Bangkok. Many flights are available per day and cost between US 20$ and 50$ per passenger (without checked luggage), depending on the airlines. AirAsia tends to be the cheapest airline company for such short-flight trips.
When to visit Chiang Rai?
As a matter of fact, the rainy season doesn’t occur at the same time throughout Thailand since the country has different climates. However, the Northern part of Thailand such as Chiang Rai can be visited (almost) all year round. Of course, each season has its advantages and disadvantages.
Having said that, the best time to visit Chiang Rai would be during winter, meaning from November to January. If possible, try not to visit the Northern part of Thailand later than January since from February until the end of March, the farmers start burning their fields to prepare their land. As a result, the air quality is very bad for your health. This phenomenon is very well known in most of the South East Asian countries and is even called the burning season.
In case you visit Chiang Rai during the rainy season which is mainly from June to October, you will still be able to enjoy your time there. However, be prepared for very high temperatures and humidity close to 100%. The rainy season in the Northern part of Thailand is much less catastrophic than on the southern islands, but still not suitable for everyone.
How long to stay in Chiang Rai?
Despite its relatively small size, the city of Chiang Rai offers many opportunities to visit. That’s why, I advise you to stay a minimum of 3 nights. This way, you will have two full days to enjoy the wonders of the region. Of course, if you have more time at your disposal, don’t hesitate to stay one week in Chiang Rai and enjoy the sweetness of life.
Check out the perfect 10 days itinerary in Thailand that includes a stop in Chiang Rai.
Where to stay in Chiang Rai?
How to move around Chiang Rai?
Things to know before visiting Chiang Rai
- Don’t shake hands or kiss to say hello. In Thailand, greetings are by doing the Wai, a slight bow with palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion.
- Most of the people in the Northern region of Thailand are Buddhist.
- Cash is king. Credit or debit cards are not accepted everywhere.
- You will always be charged 220 baths when you withdraw money from the ATM no matter which bank you use.
- Wear appropriate clothes when visiting temples. That is to say, you must cover your shoulders and knees (women and men).
- You have to remove your shoes each time you enter a temple.
- Thai people are the kindest and will always help you.
- Depending on the region, the locals are able to speak English (some better than others). In Chiang Rai, English is not commonly spoken.
- Book your train/bus tickets in advance (at least 1 or 2 days prior) with this famous booking platform. It will save you time and worries (everything is written in English).
- Buy a local SIM at the airport in order to have WiFi everywhere and will allow you to book a Grab taxi at any time.
- Food is super cheap and delicious.
What to do in Chiang Rai?
- Wat Huay Pla Kang
How to get there?
Unfortunately, there is no public bus that goes to Wat Huay Pla Kang. Therefore, if you don’t want to rent a scooter, I advise you to take a taxi via the Grab app. It costs approximately 160 baths (return).
- White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)
“Great news, you will be able to see the white temple directly from the road (outside the entrance’s site). As a result, no need to wait for the opening hour (8:00 am) to take the first pictures. Then, once the gate opens get inside the White temple to beat the crowds.”
- Blue temple (Wat Rong Suea Ten)
Another iconic place in Northern Thailand is called the Blue temple. Different from the other religious places notably by their sparkling color, the temple is a magical place to visit.
Free toilets and shops.
How to get there?
Only 10 minutes away from Chiang Rai city center, you can either take a TukTuk (most likely they will ask you for 100 baths one way but you can bargle if you want) or a taxi (60 baths one way). There is also a public bus that leaves from Chiang Rai Bus terminal 1 to the blue temple. It costs only 25 baths for a one-way trip.
I sincerely hope I have inspired you to add Chiang Rai to your bucket list and helped you organize your stay. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I would love to share more with you.
Don’t forget to check out all my posts related to Thailand to get more inspiration for your next trip to Thailand! Finally, in case you want to immerse yourself in this incredible country through videos, find me on my YouTube channel.
Sending you lots of love,