The northern Thai province of Chiang Rai is a city that’s fast-growing in popularity amongst tourists from all over the world. With enchanting attractions like the Rong Suea Ten Blue Temple, Singha Park, and Akha Village homestay, a vacation to Chiang Rai will certainly be one steeped in the vast and diverse traditional culture of Thailand. Here’s a list of the top things to do and places to visit that’ll make your Chiang Rai trip a fruitful one.
1. Zipline through a Tea Plantation
Take an exhilarating zipline across Singha Park and get a panoramic view of the vast Thai tea plantations that extend into the horizon. Singha Park offers four different zipline adventure courses for those up for an exciting thrill ride and a new way of viewing the lush greenery.
2. Admire majestic murals at the Blue Temple
Stop by the Blue Temple (or Rong Suea Ten) and take in the beauty of this stunning architectural masterpiece. The relatively new temple incorporates Buddhist motifs and imagery in its contemporary mural artwork. As the sun goes down, the mirrors lining the temple’s exterior turns it into a stunning paragon that’s a must-see when you visit Chiang Rai!
3. View the city through the eyes of Thailand’s Biggest Guan Yin Statue
Driving along the outskirts of the city, you won’t be able to miss this enormous statue of the Buddhist Goddess of Deity. The Huai Pla Kung Temple is a blend of exquisite Chinese and Thai architecture, and a popular pilgrimage site for local Buddhists. Take a lift up 25 storeys in the statue itself and you’ll have an amazing bird’s eye view of the city literally through the eyes of Guan Yin.
4. Feast of delicious local street food
Forget the fancy restaurants and overpriced cafes, the best food in Thailand is from its humble street food stalls! Feast on sumptuous Northern Thai delicacies like Khao Soi rice noodles and Bua Loy Kai, a unique coconut milk dessert with poached eggs and rice balls. The best part? These delicious local street food won’t burn a hole in your pocket!
5. Spend a night with the indigenous Akha Hill Tribe
The mountains of Northern Thailand are home to numerous indigenous hill tribes that migrated south from China more than a century ago. Today, you can pay a visit to some of the rural villages to discover the traditional culture of the ethnic minorities. The Akha Mudhouse Maesalong is a fascinating attraction featuring arguably the most vibrant of the hill tribes. The project offers day tours as well as homestays for visitors to experience what it’s like to live like the Akha people.
6. Shop till you drop at a night market
While most tourists travel to Bangkok to feed their shopaholic needs, Chiang Rai is a shopping haven in itself! Visit the night markets and take your pick from the wide variety of products, ranging from trendy apparels to souvenirs that are hand-crafted by the local hill tribes.
7. Cook eggs in a hot spring
If you’re travelling between Chiang Rai and its neighbouring city of Chiang Mai in the south, be sure to make a pit stop at Mae Khachan Hot Springs. Besides having a well-deserved soak for your tired feet, you can boil some eggs in the hot springs as well! Simply lower the baskets into the water on a pole and you’ll have some freshly cooked eggs in a couple of minutes!
8. Go on a treetop walk adventure
Tucked within the premises of Mae Fah Luang Garden is a treetop walk adventure 30 metres above ground amongst the jungle trees. The 390-metre long suspension bridge is guaranteed to be a unique way to explore the garden from a different perspective!
9. Have a walk in Mae Fah Luang garden
With over a hundred different species of flowers, the Mae Fah Luang Garden is definitely a breathtaking sight to behold. Take a relaxing evening stroll through the 10 acres of gorgeous landscape and you’ll be awestruck by the beauty of the flora and fauna!
10. Spot Superman, Minions, and more at the White Temple
A visit to Chiang Rai won’t be complete without visiting its most renowned temple, Wat Rong Khun. Built by one of the country’s national artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat, the White Temple mirrors one’s journey from hell to heaven, with one-way gates and bridges for visitors to journey through the temple grounds. Wat Rong Khun isn’t like your conventional temple; the interior murals are dotted with paintings of popular culture. Look closely and you’ll find the likes of Michael Jackson, Superman, and even your favourite Despicable Me minions! Indeed, the White Temple is a splendid showcase of one of Thailand’s esteemed artist.
11. Have Singha beer at Singha Park
Lager beer isn’t the only thing the Singha brand is known for. This 8,000-acre landscaped park is the perfect place to take in the natural environment and rejuvenate yourself, well away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Have a picnic by the scenic riverfront, take a leisurely stroll through the fields of flowers, or even feed giraffes and zebras at Singha Park’s farm!
12. Visit the late Princess Mother’s home – Doi Tung Royal Villa
The Doi Tung Royal Villa was the former residence of the late Princess Mother, the mother of two Thai kings who was, however, never a queen herself. When she stayed in Chiang Rai, she dedicated her life to transforming the area from a region plagued by drug cartels and human trafficking to the thriving city it is today. Needless to say, she’s beloved and respected by the people of Thailand. Take a self-guided tour around the Swiss-inspired villa to find out more about her Royal Project.
13. Watch a musical light show at the town’s clock tower
Right in the centre of Chiang Rai city, this incredibly intricate golden clock tower is indeed a remarkable iconic landmark of the town. Every evening, a short musical performance transforms the dusty street into an oasis of glitzy lights. Don’t be late, the show starts at 8pm sharp at the junction of Thanon Jet Yot and Thanon Baanpa Pragarn!
14. Drink freshly brewed tea at a tea plantation
Ever wondered where your Thai iced tea comes from? Nestled on the outskirts of Chiang Rai are some of the most picturesque tea plantations that serve the freshest brewed tea leaves. Visit the Choui Fong Tea Farm and treat yourself to a top-qualiTEA cup that’ll perk you up for the remainder of your trip!
15. Take a cycling tour around the Chiang Saen District
The northern district of Chiang Saen is a quaint town with plenty of interesting sights off the beaten track. Hop on a bicycle and explore the charming countryside and historic archaeological sites of the neighbourhood. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch some water buffalos soaking in the mud on a hot afternoon!
16. Visit the Golden Triangle
In the past, the Golden Triangle was one of Asia’s largest opium-producing regions. Now, it is known to be the tri-junction of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos, whose borders meet in the Mekong River. From the waterfront of Thailand, you’ll be able to see the other two countries, or even take a boat tour further out into the river for a closer look.
What are you waiting for? Start planning your next holiday to Chiang Rai! It’ll definitely be an unforgettable experience discovering the beauty and culture of the region.
By Stephanie Lauw
Stephanie is an English literature and film student – CLICK TO SEE MORE ARTICLES BY Stephanie Lauw