There is no better place to experience the uniqueness of Thai culture than in Chiang Rai. There are plenty of memorable things to see and do while spending a week in this far northern city.
The spiritual side of Chiang Rai is rightly famous. There are dozens of fabulous temples to explore. Wat Phra Kaeo was once home to the Emerald Buddha (which has since moved to Bangkok), but the temple still features an almost identical and highly revered replica. The White Temple boasts a more modern yet eye-catching design, while the often overlooked Wat Klong Wiang is an impressive landmark of great historical value.
Lanna culture is prevalent in Chiang Rai’s magnificent museums. Chiang Rai Cultural Center and the Cultural Hall Museum are ideal for history enthusiasts. Visiting Mae Fah Luang Park is also recommended, as two beautiful lakes and intricate Lanna-style architecture are on display.
From Chiang Rai, visiting one of the many hill tribes can be easily organised. In the early morning, enjoy a trek to Phucheefah where the most amazing sunrise warmly greets. If hiking and waterfalls are what you like, then a trip to Namtok Khun Kon Forest Park will not disappoint. It is only 30 minutes by car from the heart of Chiang Rai.Restaurants and Bars
Tourists really enjoy the eating and drinking culture of Chiang Rai. This is mostly because the food is distinct, affordable, and easily accessible. Most tourists will spend their nights dining around the Night Bazaar. The city boasts fantastic Northern Thai cuisine, although it is distinctly spicier than the food of its neighbor Chiang Mai. In addition, traditional Thai and Western dishes can also be found in and around the Night Bazaar precinct. The Saturday and Sunday Walking Streets also boast a tremendous range of food and drinks. Not only are these places cheap, but they can get quite lively too. Another spot perfect for ‘chilling out’ is the beach at the Mae Kok River, especially in the late afternoon.Shopping
Chiang Rai is renowned for its bazaar and markets. However, there is also a large department store, Central Plaza which is home to Western stores and shops. The weekend walking streets offer a range of items, including crafts. However, it’s the Night Bazaar that steals the shopping limelight in Chiang Mai. Everything from hill-tribe bed linens to silk clothing is available. The best part of this bazaar is the chance to haggle on prices.