Chiang Rai is a city in the north of Thailand. Tourists mostly overlook this city to Chiang Mai though it has a relaxed and accommodating feel. A visit to Chiang Rai is a must when planning a trip to the North of Thailand.
Accommodation varies from the cheapest guesthouse to luxurious hotels. Food is not as expensive as you expect it to be. Not to mention, they’re delicious Thai food. You will be surprised at how beautiful the places are in Chiang Rai. These include different Buddhist temples, botanical gardens, waterfalls and the discovery of different tribes in Thailand.
How to go around Chiang Rai?
Options to go around the city or its nearby cities would be to rent a car or motorbike. However, if you want to go to different places in a short period of time, hiring a tour guide plus transportation is recommended.
Usually, hotels or guest houses will offer an agency for you to choose from. Luckily for us, we were offered a sightseeing private tour for only 1,000 THB per person. It was a no-brainer deal for me because I saw other offers of 2,000 THB-3,000 THB per person.
Where to go?
Wat Rong Khun or White Temple
It is a very popular temple in Thailand. Foreigners and even Thai people visit this because of its design and white color. It’s very intriguing but beautiful indeed.
Next to the temple is a free museum of the architect, Chalermchai Kositpipat. It’s very interesting to see his work and artistic imagination.
Clothing preference is pants below the knee. The entrance fee is 50 THB.
A part of the park is the tea plantation where we went. There are also a zoo, trail, and orchard in it but because we are pressed for time, we only visited the tea plantation and took pictures.
There is no fee for the tea plantation.
Blue Temple or Wat Rong Suea Ten
Have you ever visited a blue temple? Me, neither. So, I was very intrigued to go to this temple. It’s a unique temple I have ever visited not only because of its color but also its intricacies. It should be worthy to note that this temple was built by a student of Mr. Chalermchai, the architect of the White Temple.
It’s free of charge but to go inside the temple, you have to wear a decent attire and leave your shoes in front of the temple.
Baan Dam Museum or Black House
The museum showcase the works of a Thai National Artist, Thawan Duchanee. It has a series of houses or wood buildings, sculptures and even skins of dead snakes and crocodile.
The entrance fee is 80 THB.
Long-Neck Karen Village
I would say that this is one of the famous tourist destinations not only in Chiang Mai but the whole Thailand. It was even because of them that I first thought of going to Chiang Rai. I watched a documentary about the Karen Tribe and I was so curious and wanted to see it myself.
The Karen are hill tribe said to be from Myanmar. They are known to have this spiral coil around their necks as a part of their tradition, making their neck look elongated. However, it is not actually because their necks became longer, it’s because their shoulder bones have changed its shape.
Before entering the village, you must pay 300 THB per person. Inside, you will see the women even little girls with the coils on their neck. It pained me to see them and the coil is even heavy when I tried.
Another stop is the Monkey Cave. From the name itself, you have to expect monkeys inside. You can also feed them with nuts or bananas.
Entrance is free. Make sure to get your own stick in the entrance area so you have something to defend yourself in case bad monkeys come your way.
It is an area shaped as a triangle that overlaps the mountains of three countries of Southeast Asia: Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand.
House of Opium Museum (Chiang Saen)
Chiang Saen is a district in Chiang Rai Province. It is an ancient town of the Lanna Kingdom.
Just near the Golden Triangle, sits the House of Opium Museum. I don’t know what an opium looks like so I went inside to learn about it.
The entrance fee is 50 THB per person.
Wat Chedi Luang (Chiang Saen)
Chedi Luang is a bell-shaped stupa with octagonal base which is the largest stupa in Chiang Saen.
If you will be staying in the downtown area, you should go and see the clock tower yourself. It was also built by the artist Chalermchai.
Temples in Chiang Rai City
Another option for you is to walk around Chiang Rai City. There are temples located in the city itself that you can walk or ride by motorcycle.
Some of them are Wat Phra Sing, Wat Muang Muang, and Wat Klang Wiang.
This is a place to go at night in Chiang Rai. There are shops, restaurants and bars you can hang around. You will be shocked that the prices were not expensive at all.
I would say that it was the longest walking street I have walked in Thailand. You will see vendors selling different goods from foods, clothes and souvenirs. Weekend is the time when a lot of people go out and explore the street so it was crowded when we walked there on a Saturday night.
I enjoyed my stay in Chiang Rai. Nothing disappointed me at all. The staff and people we talked to in Chiang Rai were very friendly and nice to us. I loved the weather at the time too. It was cold which made walking around bearable.
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