Chiang Rai is the northernmost province of Thailand, bordering both Laos and Myanmar. Chiang Rai contains many diverse attractions whether your interests are inspiring temples, the beauty of nature, ethnic cultures or agri-tourism.
Chiang Rai City
The center of Chiang Rai city has a modest night market, wet market, and several temples. Further out into the suburbs there are many significant points of interest. You could easily spend over a day exploring all the major attractions just within the city limits.
Wat Huay Pla Kang
Black House (Baan Dam)
Inspire Project (Kamlangjai)
If you have a little more time to spend around the city, there are additional attractions you can visit. Singha Park is a good option for a lunch stop or to simply enjoy a view of the tea fields. Wat Huay Pla Kang is located in the outer suburbs north of the Kok river, but well worth a look.
The infamous Golden Triangle was once an assumed part of any itinerary in Chiang Rai. Now that many more destinations have opened up for tourism you have other options, but the golden triangle still remains popular – at least in part because people like to say they have been there.
Of course, around the golden triangle itself there are more itinerary options these days, so a well planned trip that includes some of the nearby attractions can make for a memorable day of travel.
The convergence of Thailand, Myanmar & Laos on the Mekong River.
Mekong River Cruise
House of Opium Museum
Choui Fong Tea Plantation
Hall of Opium Museum
Mae Sai Border Markets
Depending how much time you have, Doi Tung (Mae Fah Luang Gardens), Choui Fong Tea Plantation, and Mae Sai Border Markets are all places you can consider visiting in between Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle.
Doi Chang (Akha & Lisu Coffee Village)
Doi Chang is a great ‘off the beaten track’ experience, but really only a small detour from the main highway between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
Lisu & Akha Coffee Village
Doi Chaang Coffee Estate
Leehu Coffee Farm
Temple Park & Doi Chang Viewpoint
You can stay for 1 night in Doi Chang and combine it with visits to the regular Chiang Rai attractions as part of the same trip.
Mae Salong (Yunnanese Tea Village)
Mae Salong is a little further out of the way, but a rewarding visit. This is the heartland of tea production in northern Thailand and an area rich in history: the local people are descendants of KMT soldiers from China.
The district of Mae Salong centers on the Yunnanese tea village of Santikhiri.
101 Tea Plantation
Martyrs’ Memorial Hall
By Road from Chiang Mai
The main road from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is highway 118. The travel time is around 4 hours, and will hopefully be back to 3.5 hours once major roadworks are completed.
Almost every tour operator in Chiang Mai includes a rest break at Mae Khachan Hot Springs to break up the journey. This is a pleasant enough place to bathe your feet and access facilities.
Mae Khachan Hot Springs
Wat Saeng Kaew Phothiyan
A newer, lesser known, place to visit along the main road is Wat Saeng Kaew Phothiyan. This beautiful and peaceful temple would be worth a visit regardless of location, so convenience to the main highway is simply a bonus.
Chiang Rai Accommodation
While we have some hotels under contracts, you will generally get the best deals checking directly through online booking portals. If you have a short-list of hotels we suggest you search the hotel’s own website to compare rates. Of course if you want us to phone the hotels directly and see what is on offer, we are always happy to help with that.
Olsen Tours is is compensated for referring business to Booking.com.
Chiang Rai Night Bazaar
The night bazaar district in Chiang Rai is like a small version of the famous night markets in Chiang Mai. One of the main differences in Chiang Rai is that this is pretty much the only active part of the city for visitors in the evening apart from restaurants.
We have some suggested hotels in the night bazaar district, but there are many boutique hotels and guesthouses in this area, so it can be worth searching for deals on your particular dates.
Good value a short walk from night markets
5-star comfort a short walk from night markets
Apart from the markets themselves, the night bazaar district is a great location for casual dining and the nearby clock tower is illuminated with an hourly light show.
The Kok River
Most of the high-end hotels are located on the banks of the Kok River. This district is also the location of numerous riverside restaurants.
Other City Locations
If you are prepared to take local transport to the night bazaar, or just want to spend a quiet evening at the hotel, Laluna Hotel & Resort is a good value option.
Chiang Rai Tours
We recommend spending at least 1 night in Chiang Rai province. We have several multi-day itineraries allowing you to see Chiang Rai city and surrounding attractions as well as the Golden Triangle.
If you simply do not have the time or budget to stay overnight in Chiang Rai, it is possible to visit as part of a day tour from Chiang Mai. The day tour runs as both a group tour, and a private tour with slightly different inclusions and options.
Transport to Other Provinces
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Check route schedules and ticket prices using the search form above, or click through to detailed information below.
Chiang Rai Airport
Chiang Rai Bus Service
General Information about Chiang Rai
For more information on Chiang Rai, please see the following resources: