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Chiang Rai

Holiday Types

At Asia Senses Travel we’re adventurers at heart. Our journeys are all about discovering new places and cultures while creating unforgettable memories through physical activity and breathtaking scenery.

Visit chiang rai

Nestled in the heart of the Golden Triangle region, which encompasses the mountains of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand, Chiang Rai is a land of tropical hills and lush mountainsides. Though it was once the royal capital of Thailand, today Chiang Rai is a sleepy, subdued city near the country’s northern border.

Because it attracts fewer visitors than Chiang Mai, its sister city, Chiang Rai offers a chance to explore authentic local life as well as smaller markets and several temples, both historic and modern. Visitors should note that the demographics of the area are much more ethnically diverse than elsewhere in Thailand, offering an interesting cultural contrast to the rest of the nation. A significant minority of the population is composed of members of the so-called “hill tribes”, among them the Karen, Lisu, and Akha, as well as ethnic Chinese settlers.

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Things to See and Do in Chiang Rai

wat-rong-khun (2)

Wat Rong Khun

Some 13 km (8 miles) south of the city, you’ll find Wat Rong Khun, which offers a totally different temple experience. A blindingly white complex of buildings, it glitters in the sunlight thanks to millions of tiny mirrors. It’s a contemporary temple-cum-art-installation, designed and built by artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. He considers the ongoing construction to be an offering to the Buddha.

The architecture here is laden with symbolism, from an eerie sea of grasping, disembodied hands as you enter the wat to a surreal interior mural that depicts flame-wreathed demons, George Bush and Hello Kitty. The monochromatic exterior paint scheme has only one exception — the gold-painted buildings that contain the restrooms.

Hill-Tribes-Museum-and-Education-Centre

Hill-Tribes Museum and Education Centre

If you plan to visit the hill-tribe villages, it’s a good idea to first drop by the museum and get familiarised with their culture. Part of a local NGO group, PDA Chiang Rai, which is the brainchild of former senator Meechai Weera-waithaya and Thailand’s most outspoken advocate for safe sex, the museum aims to build awareness for responsible tourism by educating visitors about Thailand’s ethnic hill-tribe communities and local etiquettes that they should observe when visiting the hill-tribe villages.

Mae-Fah-Luang-Art

Mae Fah Luang Art & Cultural Park

If you are short on time but would like to get an over-arching introduction to Chiang Rai’s past and immediate history as well as its cultural heritage, then head over to Mae Fah Luang Art & Cultural Park (about 5km west of the city centre). Set in a lovely landscaped lake garden is a cluster of teak structures, constructed in the styles of traditional Lanna and Tai hill-tribes. Learn about the kingdom’s 400-year history, as you browse the museum’s fascinating collection of secular and religious art and artifacts.

Oub-Kham-Museum

Oub Kham Museum

If you prefer to delve deeper into Lanna history, art and cultural heritage, the splendid collection at Oub Kham Museum is a must-see. Witness all the different strands that come together, woven into the beautiful tapestry that is the Lanna Kingdom, from royal regalia and costumes to an assortment of rare antiques, pottery, ancient Buddha images, artifacts and tribal costumes. The collections are housed inside five exhibition rooms and a man-made cave. Don’t miss the magnificent centerpiece: the golden throne of Chiang Tung, fashioned from nine pieces of ornately carved teakwood, gilded with gold.

Hall-of-Opium

Hall of Opium

Visit the Hall of Opium, which chronicles the long history of opium production and trade in the Golden Triangle.

The exhibition was designed to be fun and captivating, entertaining while providing information, what we call edutainment. Covering an area of 5,600 square meters, the exhibition in the Hall of Opium is the result of almost 10 years of research. Here visitors learn about the 5,000-year history of opium: how it was a drug to treat illnesses, how its use spread throughout the world, how imperialist expansion used opium in the economic colonization and control of China, and how it eventually came to dominate in the Golden Triangle as well as other parts of the world, such as Afghanistan.

Doi-Mae-Salong

Doi Mae Salong

Drive 1.5 hours to the beautiful mountaintop village of Doi Mae Salong, home to indigenous hill-tribe peoples and Chinese settlers. Once opium country, Doi Mae Salong is now home to Thailand’s premier oolong tea production.


Best Time to Visit Chiang Rai

The best time to visit Chiang Rai is in the winter months of December to February because the climate becomes rainless and appropriate to go sightseeing and trekking. One should also be carrying a good amount of winter clothing to be careful because it might become freezing after 9pm in the city.

The months of April to June are the worst months to visit Chiang Rai because it's extremely humid and sightseeing would be very uncomfortable. Although, it is also important to keep in mind that the winter months will be crowded with tourists because that is the peak season.

Max Temperature(ºC)
Jan
27
Feb
30
Mar
33
Apr
34
May
33
Jun
31
Jul
30
Aug
30
Sep
30
Oct
30
Nov
28
Dec
26
Rainfall (mm)
Jan
16
Feb
8
Mar
24
Apr
72
May
209
Jun
240
Jul
300
Aug
434
Sep
255
Oct
118
Nov
41
Dec
20
Month
Daily Max Temperature
Monthly Rainfall

JAN
27ºC
16mm

FEB
30ºC
8mm

MAR
33ºC
24mm

APR
34ºC
72mm

MAY
33ºC
209mm

JUN
31ºC
240mm

JUL
30ºC
300mm

AUG
30ºC
434mm

SEP
30ºC
255mm

OCT
30ºC
118mm

NOV
28ºC
41mm

DEC
26ºC
20mm

Suggested Itineraries

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel to Chiang Rai, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists. Alternatively, if you would like to include a visit to Chiang Rai on a bespoke touring itinerary to Thailand, do not hesitate to contact us.
Thailand Discovery: Bangkok, Chiang Mai to Phuket

Bangkok - Ayutthaya - Chiang Rai - Chiang Mai - Khao Sok National Park - Koh Yao Noi - Phuket
Discovering Burma and Northern Thailand

Yangon - Bagan - Mandalay - Inle Lake - Tachileik border - Chiang Rai - Chiang Mai - Bangkok
Thailand & Laos Adventure Tour

Bangkok - Sukhothai - Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai - Pakbeng - Luang Prabang

Cruises in Chiang Rai

Mekong Sun Cruise
Mekong Sun Cruise built in 2006 with 14 cabins will provide you a relatively exclusive experience when passing through World Heritage Sites - Luang Prabang and aboriginal villages. Beside that, there are many interesting offshore excursions making the Laos and <a href="https://asiasenses.com/destination/thailand/trip-ideas" target="_blank">Thailand trip</a> an fantastic holiday.
RV Laos Pandaw Cruise
Laos Pandaw was launched in November 2015 and is currently the only ship sailing on the Upper Mekong River and visiting the three countries of the Golden Triangle (Laos, Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) and China. The 131-foot long ship can accommodate 20 passengers, provides an intimate experience with personalised service to match.