What to see in Chiang Rai in one day

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Located north of the province of the same name, it is close to the borders of Laos and Myanmar, where these two lands meet Thailand, giving life to the "Golden Triangle". Chiang Rai is a city to be discovered in one breath.

Surrounded by luxuriant forests, it articulates its beauty among Buddhist temples: the most famous is the White Temple; eccentric monuments and bazaars with a party atmosphere and very original scents of spices and the Orient: the most famous is the Night Bazaar.
It is certainly not the most fascinating Thai city, but certainly one of the most curious, in which the identity of this wonderful country remains indelibly.


  1. One day itinerary in Chiang Rai: Morning
  2. One day itinerary in Chiang Rai: Afternoon
  3. One day itinerary in Chiang Rai: Evening
  4. User questions and comments

One day itinerary in Chiang Rai: Morning

1 - Wat Phra Kaeo

We start our day with a breakfast at the Cat Bar, where we can choose from a wide range of dishes, which propose not only Thai food but also more Western flavors, respecting an excellent quality-price ratio.

After breakfast we head to our first stop of the day: Wat Phra Kaeo.
A visit is certainly a must, since inside the temple there is a copy of the emerald Buddha (the original was created in Chiang Rai in the th century, but is located in Bangkok), which is the most famous sacred sculpture in all of Thailand.
The temple is open every day, from 8:30 to 15:30; entrance fee 500 THB (€ 15,02).

2 - Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong Temple

In the second part of the morning we head to this wonderful temple, located about 13 minutes walking distance from the previous one.

Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong is a Buddhist temple founded in 940 AD, which is located on top of a hill in the center of the city.
Inside the temple are kept the relics of Buddha. Magnificent gardens and views of the Kok River below.
The temple is open daily from 6:00 to 18:00; entrance fee: 50 TB (€ 1,50); cost of the cable car to enter the temple: 30 THB (€ 0,90).

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 25 min / 1,9 km
  • Places visited: Wat Phra Kaeo (500 THB / € 15,02), Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong (50 TB / € 1,50)
  • Where to have breakfast: Cat Bar - Get directions

One day itinerary in Chiang Rai: Afternoon

1 - Wat Rong Khun

We decide to have lunch at the Nature Future Caffe Wat Rong Khun Shop, a place famous for its soups and for its low prices between € 2,00 and € 6,00.

At about 160 meters there is the famous White Temple.
Designed by the famous Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the temple is entirely painted white and hundreds of mirrors are placed on the plaster that shine in the sunlight, making it striking and symbolizing Buddha's purity. Every detail of the temple has a symbolic meaning, and each visitor is invited to admire them and reflect on the meaning, which refers to each of the teachings of the Buddha himself. The construction (begun in 1997) remained unfinished.

A little tip: stay until sunset, the contrast between the sunlight and the white of the temple is truly magical.
The Temple is easily accessible by tuk tuk (cost: about 250-300 THB, € 7,51-9.00) or by taxi, in about thirty minutes, from the Chiang Rai train station. Open from 8:00 to 17:00; entrance fee: 50 THB / € 1,50.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 160 meters / 2 minutes
  • Places visited: Wat Rong Khun (50 THB / € 1,50)
  • Chiang Rai Temples: Small Group Tour from Chiang Rai
  • Where to have lunch: Nature Future Caffe Wat Rong Khun Shop - Get Directions

One day itinerary in Chiang Rai: Evening

1 - Dinner, Clock Tower

We have dinner at "At home cafe", a fast food in perfect Thai style, where prices are contained between € 2,00 and € 5,00.

Immediately after dinner we head towards the Clock Tower: another wonderful tribute to the city by the same artist of the White Temple, as a tribute to King Bhumibol Adulyadej who reigned for seven decades.
At 19:00, 20:00 and 21:00 the light and sound show offered by the tower is truly unmissable.

2 - Night market

As the last stop of our day we choose to make ourselves overwhelmed by Thai culture, walking through the Night Bazar: a colorful market located right in the center of the city, which with simplicity and wooden benches will be able to tell us about traditions and make us spend a pleasant evening.

Many varieties of typical food and souvenirs to take home. The shows that alternate on the stage of the two market squares every evening are very entertaining, in which traditional songs and dances, seasoned with spectacular typical costumes, are the masters.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 600 meters / 8 minutes
  • Places visited: Clock Tower (free), Night Market (free)
  • Where to dine: At home cafe - Get directions

Before leaving: useful tips

  • Best time: it is the cold season, ie the one that runs from December to March. Temperatures remain pleasant during the day (about 30 °) and drop in the evening (about 11 °).
  • Clothing: suitable for the places you will visit. We recommend comfortable and light clothing, sandals to take off and put on quickly (in many temples you will be asked to take them off), foulard, repellent, sunscreen and sunglasses.
  • Getting around: buses are among the cheapest means (VIP class is also quite affordable) or by taxi, but you need to make sure of the fare beforehand. It will be very useful to use the Grab App: a map in which to select the destination will indicate the route and the cost of the ride.
  • Rent a vehicle: opt for the scooter, it is cheap and useful in the middle of the infernal traffic of Thai cities.
    To drive the scooter simply, you must have an international driving license for Thailand.
  • Prohibitions: possession, sale, amount and export of electronic cigarettes are absolutely prohibited. The penalty is a fine or imprisonment of up to five years.
  • Phone sim: buy a local sim already at the airport, to be used for internet browsing and phone calls. It is often difficult to find them in supermarkets or specialized shops.
  • Medical insurance: take out private medical insurance before travel.

What not to see: the attractions that are better to give up

  1. Golden triangle
  2. Bandaam Museum
  3. Cultural Hall Museum (Singhaklai)
  4. Mountain Tribe Museum
  5. Mae Salong
  6. Mae sai

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