Top 10 Things to do in Chiang Rai, Thailand

December 10, 2017 Sheron Bogner

Located about five hours from Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai is a community not to be missed. The area offers a variety of cooking classes, beautiful views, markets, resorts and restaurants. In addition, visitors can get a feel for true northern Thai culture during their visit.
Restaurants in Chiang Rai

1. Tad Kwan Village Park & Waterfall

Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand +66 61 353 6744
Excellent
93%
Good
4%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 231 reviews

Tad Kwan Village Park & Waterfall

One of the last unspoiled Mien Hill Tribe villages where you can see and learn about the Mien culture, visit/swim in the waterfall and tour the village & surrounding countryside in a buggy (included). This is a fun day out for all the family, the ladies will enjoy the culture, the gents; the buggies & kids; the waterfall. Pickup/drop-off from your hotel, full details on our website.

Reviewed By Cameron M - Martinez, California, United States

I had very high hopes for this experience given the previous glowing reviews and given the extraordinary price, relative to every other day trip I've seen for Thailand.
Let's start with the positives: We had lots of fun over all. Me and the Missus had never before driven anything like these dune buggy vehicles. We enjoyed the lunch that our host's mother made. (Sing is his name, best that I could understand). The view from his house (“Pavilion at the Top of the World”) was nice, and it would be amazing during the non-hazy months. We had a ball at the water fall in the park - we had the place entirely to ourselves for about an hour. The pool is very deep and Sing's helpers showed us a very easy entry point. Amazing pictures. At the waterfall, Sing’s helpers built a fire and we roasted marshmallows and marshmallow-covered bananas. We were delighted with the bamboo cups that Sing hand made for us on the spot. The booking and e-mail communication was quick and easy.
Now for the Needs Improvement items: The trail dust was killing my eyes. There was only the Missus and I on the tour, so I was either 2nd or 3rd in line, but my eyes really suffered that night at the hotel, and into the next morning. I have prescription sunglasses, so serious wrap-arounds are not an option for me. Provide goggles!
Given the 4+ weeds from the time we booked the tour, we had no recollection of how the day would unfold. Sing needs to provide an overview of the day, preferably printed or by e-mail. You’re on the ATVs twice and can go swimming 3 times, so you need to plan your clothing changes accordingly. If I’d known that we would have a two-hour lunch break I’d probably have brought something to read.
The Missus and I are fit but found the buggies difficult to control – a constant wrestling match. I drove 3 different buggies and the steering on the first was really loose, whereas the 3rd one was far tighter. You’re occasionally driving above steep slopes on deeply rutted roads, so precise steering would be nice.
Contrary to some recent reviews, the overall operation was just not very professional. Maybe Sing was having a bad day. He had to divide his attention between helping retrieve a buggy that we had to leave behind and fixing the house’s water pump motor that burned up. We were at loose ends for a solid hour during the two-hour lunch break. We swam in the infinite horizon pool, but how long can two adults be entertained doing that?
At his house we intermingled with family members who paid us no heed. It seems that school was out at this time, so there were at least a half dozen adolescents milling around. Frankly, it was awkward eating our lunch while the kid next to us couldn’t be bothered to look up from his computer. There were 4 young ladies in the SUV when we got picked up. They did not return my cheerful sawadtee krap, so I figured they were Asian guests who didn’t speak Thai. Actually, they seemed to be family members or friends catching a ride to Sing’s house.
The driver who picked us up at the hotel spoke very little English, and drove more aggressively than any other driver I saw. Worse still, he was constantly dividing his attention to his phone during the evening return trip.
During the ATV outing, we stopped at a farm house to admire the piglets and scratch a dog’s ears. The farmer, with a small boy, looked very uncomfortable and didn’t return my cheerful sawadtee krap. Naturally, we felt awkward as well.
Finally, there was no “village” experience. We drove through the village below Sing’s hill-top Pavilion several times, but there was no stop for any interaction or photos.
I am confident that Sing can deliver a better experience for the next guests.

2. Wat Rong Khun

Pa O Don Chai Subdistrict, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand +66 53 673 579
Excellent
66%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 5 reviews

Wat Rong Khun

Reviewed By John and Deb K - Karratha, Australia

White Temple is amazing - built by an artist with his own money and given to the Buddhist in his village, also employing hundreds of locals. Really so much to take in you need to take time to digest everything - each piece of art work is unique and some just fun. We loveld this place.

3. Wat Rong Sear Tean

306, Moo 2 | Rim Kok, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand +66 82 026 9038
Excellent
65%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 266 reviews

Wat Rong Sear Tean

Reviewed By yeonghaur - Singapore, Singapore

Small temple located about 10-15 drive from downtown. Temple is designed by same creator of white temple.
Temple is amazingly beautiful, especially the bluish interior. Temple is not big. I stayed for about 20 min.
Suggest to come early (before 8 am). I came at 7.45 am. It was quiet with chanting monks and few visitors. 5 min later the busload of crowds started arriving. Temple is very popular now.
Can combine with visit to Kuan Yin statue and/or Black House.

4. White Temple

Lahaul-Spiti, Chiang Rai, Thailand +66 53 673 579
Excellent
66%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 746 reviews

White Temple

Reviewed By KaraokeSue7 - Barnsley, United Kingdom

This has to be one of the loveliest buildings I have ever been to-my jaw just dropped throughout the visit. If you are in this area, it doesn't matter if you are not religious, just go to admire the art and the sculptures (but obviously be respectful as others are there to worship).
The Wat Rong Khun "known familiarly as the White temple for obvious reasons" was designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat, a famous Thai visual artist. To date the temple is not finished.The artist built the temple to be a center of learning and meditation and for people to gain benefit from the Buddhist teachings.
From the outside the temple is absolutely stunning and it is accessed by a bridge. In front of this are hundreds of reaching hands which signify desire. You must remove your shoes to enter the temple and unfortunately taking photographs of the inside is not allowed. The walls are absolutely marvellous with murals that depict modern representations of good and evil. We spent ages poring over these spotting contemporary figures like Batman, Spiderman and Elvis, villains and superheroes from movies and comics and even spaceships, but also a thought provoking depiction of the burning twin towers.
Moving away from the temple itself, the grounds contain the most elaborate toilet block ever, and some clay heads hanging from the trees (which the local birds nest in).
There is also a very good art exhibition of the works of Chalermchai Kositpipat, who is obviously a hugely talented man.
I could have spent so much more time here so allow a good amount of time.

5. Wat Huai Pla Kung Temple

553 Moo 3, Rimkok Subdistrict, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand +66 89 851 5127
Excellent
50%
Good
39%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 293 reviews

Wat Huai Pla Kung Temple

Reviewed By mshian63 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This place consists of a giant Kuan Yin Statue on the left, a temple resembling the white temple in the middle and a 9 tier Pagoda on the right as we approach from the main entrance. The place is still new as the main hall in the white temple is still under construction. Even though the admission is free, they still provide buggy to transfer people from the car park to the Kuan Yin area. These three structures are beautiful with the mountain at the back drop. We can go up to the 25 floor of the Kuan Yin statue by paying 40 baht. We can walk up to 26 floor for an aerial view of the surroundings. The interior of these two floors are meticulously decorated all in white. From top here, we can have a nice view of the white temple and the 9 tier pagoda. The staircase with dragons on left and right side leading to the Kuan Yin statue on the hill top is still under construction. Similarly, the staircase leading to the white temple has a dragon on each side, giving a spectacular welcoming view. For the 9 tier pagoda, the ground floor has a big wooden Kuan Yin, and we can climb up all the way to the highest tier with different statue of Worship in different tier. I find the visit both pleasing and nice.

6. Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)

19 Moo 1, Tambol Wiang, Ampur Muang, Chiang Rai 57000 Thailand, Chiang Rai, Thailand +66 53 711 385
Excellent
49%
Good
39%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 757 reviews

Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)

This was the original location of the Emerald Buddha, now housed in Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaeo.

Reviewed By pianocello - Shah Alam, Malaysia

I checked some of negative reviews and it is clear these people are confusing this temple with the one in Bangkok. There is NO admission fee and NO crowds. This is a lovely temple with peaceful surroundings. There's also a nice museum here in one of the buildings. I actually liked this temple more than Wat Rong Khun.

7. Mae Fah Luang Art and Culture Park

313 Moo 7 Baan Pa Ngiew | Rop Wiang, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand +66 53 716 605
Excellent
56%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 182 reviews

Mae Fah Luang Art and Culture Park

Mae Fah Luang Art & Cultural Park houses the region's largest collection of folk art and teak artifacts from the Lanna Kingdom. It has been recognized as a unique tourist destination in northern Thailand and has won the Thailand Tourism Award 2006 as an outstanding tourism destination in the category of Arts and Culture.

Reviewed By TheExplorerFamily - Somerset, New Jersey

We came here in the afternoon, and it seemed like we were the only ones there in this massive property with the gorgeous grounds and Gardens. The garden is a gem – soothing, expansive and calm with lots of rare trees and plants. The Buildings have the Lanna-style architecture with lots of carvings in Teakwood. We explored the Golden Pavilion, the Haw Kham Mansion, the Ponds, the flowers, and the Statues, artifacts, and folk art placed artistically everywhere on the premises. Everything is maintained immaculately – as per the Queen Mother’s wishes.
It was an excellent way for us to spend a couple of hours here, and gain some insight about the Royal family.
Worth a visit if you have the time.

8. Khun Korn Waterfall

Khunkorn Forest park Maekorn, Amphur Muang | Doi Hang, Chiang Rai, Thailand +66 91 067 9756
Excellent
48%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
13%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 268 reviews

Khun Korn Waterfall

Reviewed By John K - Costa Mesa, California

Logistics:
I rented a motorbike in Chiang Rai and enjoyed an easy and scenic ride, time depends on how fast you drive, certainly less than an hour. The route is pretty clearly marked, although you can't go wrong with GPS guiding you. There are toilets at the parking area. The hike is 1.4 km, mostly easy but some stretches are steep and muddy.
The good:
The waterfall itself is a big one and was really roaring the day I was there. The walk was scenic and not too difficult. Thai families encountered along the trail were super friendly. Toilets were ok, the ones right at the trail head being cleaner than the ones in the parking area.
The less than good:
Expect a crowd on weekends. Near the falls itself the trail narrows to a bottleneck, so if you want photos without other people in them, you'll need to be patient. If you go soon after a rain, the red clay is sticky!

9. Doi Mae Salong

Chiang Rai, Thailand
Excellent
51%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 564 reviews

Doi Mae Salong

Doi Mae Salong is a primarily Chinese community that offers a variety of activities. Visitors can take in a morning market, tour General Tuan's Tomb, go to a memorial museum and take in tea tastings while visiting the village.

Reviewed By singhasam - Weymouth, United Kingdom

YOU'VE probably heard of the expression to go "off the beaten track" when referring to remote areas, but some of the roads in Doi Mae Salong are so remote we could well have been their only vehicle of the day.
This was true back-of-beyond isolated countryside as we inched round hairpin bends or plunged into heavily forested Valleys before slogging up the other side, initially on fairly well kept roads in this very hilly area but more and more on rutted and potholed byways. Eventually we reached some road sections which were so remote that rains had washed as much as three-quarters of the road away down the mountainside. In an extreme case a landslip had taken most of the road and a substantial part of a village with it as well.
If ever I've felt removed from civilisation it was here because when we stopped at one point we could see for miles with no sign of homes or any noise whatsoever created by humans, just birdsong, the sound of insects and some intriguing rustling in the undergrowth. Very peaceful.
There are communities about and somehow our driver threaded his way through this unmarked paradise and we visited Akha and Yao villages where I drank coffee grown on the nearby slopes or bought intricately crafted and very colourful needlework items as special souvenirs.
It was another world where perhaps the main source of income were tea and coffee plantations which shaped hillsides without spoiling their sweep of green.
If you get a chance to spend part or all of a day here then grab it with both hands because it will richly reward you.

10. Wat Phra Singh

Mueang district, Chiang Rai, Thailand
Excellent
47%
Good
45%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 99 reviews

Wat Phra Singh

Reviewed By VivaHawaii - Honolulu, Hawaii

If your interested in temples and find yourself in Chiang Rai, you really should try to get to Wat Phra Singh. It's not that large, but you should find it worth what will be an easy visit. The photo I am uploading is the actual Phra Singh Buddha image with a smaller Phra Singh 1 in front of it.

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