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Chiang Rai

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White temple 'Wat Rong Khun' in Chiang Rai
Wat Phra Kaeo

Chiang Rai (เชียงราย) is the capital of Chiang Rai Province, Northern Thailand.

Understand[edit]

The metro area has a population of 200,000 and is the main commercial centre serving the Golden Triangle border region of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. It is an excellent base for exploring the region. Chiang Rai is essentially a service city for the surrounding province. It has a relatively small population of 200,000 people, but also has respected universities and other civic facilities.

The character is distinctly Northern and is distinct to Chiang Mai to the south in various ways. The food is definitely spicier and the ethnic composition includes a good percentage of hill tribes and Myanmar exiles such as various varieties of Karen tribespeople.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport [1] (CEI) is located on Phaholyotin Rd 8 km from the centre of Chiang Rai. Car rental is available on arrival from several companies as well as in town.

At a desk in the airport you can hire a pre-paid taxi. It costs 200 baht to the city centre and more to other places (the prices are on display). It will take you to your hotel, or the driver will find you one if you give him the price range you want to pay.

The airport is served by AirAsia [2], Nok Air [3] and Thai Airways [4] to Bangkok. China Eastern Airlines offers three direct flights per week to/from Kunming China.

By bus[edit]

There are two bus stations in Chiang Rai: the old bus station and new bus station.

Old Bus Station (Bus Terminal 1) is located in the centre of town. Buses coming from towns in Chiang Rai province such as Chiang Khong and Mae Sai stop here. From here you take the bus south to Phayao and Lampang. Greenbus services to and from Chiang Mai also arrive and depart from here, after stopping to drop off or pick up passengers in the New Bus station. There is enough English written on the signs and buses at the terminal to tell where the bus is going. They have a big booth with lots of windows at the bus station. Take a number and then by your ticket when called.

New Bus Station (Bus Terminal 2) is 7km south of the city, just off the Super Highway. Buses from elsewhere in Thailand stop here. Greenbus services to and from Chiang Mai stop by here on the way to the Old Bus Station, or on the way to Chiang Mai after departing from the Old Bus Station.

There is a songthaew (officially a "minibus") connecting the two bus terminals. It costs 15 baht per person and takes 15 minutes. Some drivers ask you to pay more if there are fewer than 10 passengers, despite what the official price list posted inside the songthaew says. You can just wait for the next one and pay 15 baht.

However, said service only operates till 5pm and thereafter, tuktuks, motorcycle taxi (50 Baht) and taxicabs exist for the trip back into town.

Both bus stations have plenty of tuk-tuks and songthaews outside, as well as a few metered taxis at Bus Terminal 2.


To Chiang Mai

There are three types of bus to Chiang Mai:

  • First-class with air-con (186 baht)
  • Second-class with air-con (144 baht), and
  • VIP (288 baht)

Air-con first and second class buses stop one time for 15 minutes during the journey which takes just over 3 hours. First class provides free water, nuts, and hand-towel. VIP buses take 3 hours. Buses operated by Greenbus depart very regularly throughout the day, take about 3 hours and 20 minutes, and tickets cost 185 baht. Green Bus buses stop at the New (Bus Terminal 2) and Old (Bus Terminal 1) Bus Stations.


To Bangkok

Three types of buses depart for Bangkok from Bus Terminal 2:

  • VIP - 3 buses daily, 990 baht,
  • First-class
  • Second-class

Journeys take approximately 11-12 hours. They arrive at the Mo Chit Bus Station in Bangkok.


To Mae Sai

Buses to Mae Sai on the Myanmar-Thailand border leave frequently from Bus Terminal 1, taking over an hour. Greenbus also operates vans between Chiang Rai and Mae Sai, leaving from Platform 19 in Bus Terminal 1. Services begin at 0630 and end at 1830 with departures every half hour.


To Chiang Khong

Buses to Chiang Khong, on the Laos border, leave from Bus Terminal 1 every hour or so and have the destination clearly marked. The journey takes two and a half hours and costs 70 baht.

By train[edit]

Chiang Rai's Clock Tower

The nearest train station is at Chiang Mai.

By car[edit]

Chiang Rai is about 820 km north of Bangkok and is easily accessible from Bangkok via Hwy 1 and Hwy 32 and from Chiang Mai via Hwy 118.

Get around[edit]

Chiang Rai map

Public transport consists mainly of tuk-tuks and songthaews, plus a smaller number of taxis. The city itself can be explored on foot, but for trips into the province consider renting a car or a motorbike. Budget and Avis both have offices in Chiang Rai and there are several local agencies. If you don't feel up to driving in what may be a very different environment, then consider hiring a car with driver. It doesn't cost much more.

Chiang Rai has a few cyclo-rickshaws (samlors), which can be a pleasant way to see the main sights if you want a fairly quick tour.

By motorbike[edit]

A motorbike is a good way to see these parts; there are several trails and a 250cc dirt bike is a great way to see the countryside.

  • ST Motorcycle is located in the centre of town. It has the most choices of machines.
  • Soon's delivers motorcycles to some guest houses and may also have a pick-up location, but some bikes may not be reliable.

Itinerary[edit]

For suggested Chiang Rai itineraries, see Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai in 3 days

Map[edit]

You can add this map to Google Maps My Places feature then view it on your mobile with Google Maps app, if you have a Thai sim with data plan. Or you can export it to KML and load into any GPS device/app.

See[edit][add listing]

Temples and churches[edit]

One of The Black Houses in Bandaam Museum
Guardian statue, Wat Klong Wiang
Ordination hall (wiharn) at Wat Ming Meuang
  • Bandaam Museum (AKA Black House or Black Temple), 414 Moo 13 Nanglae, Muang, Chiang Rai, 57100, +66 53 705 834, +66 53 776 333, +66 81 673 1155 (), [5]. 09:00-17:00, closed from 12:00- 13:00. Free.  edit
Created by Thailand national artist Thawan Duchanee, the grounds include nearly 40 small black houses made of wood, glass, concrete, bricks, or terracotta in various unique styles and design scattered around the temple area. The cluster of houses accommodates Thawan’s collections of paintings, sculptures, animal bones, skins, horns, and silver and gold items from around the world. Several of the houses exhibit Balinese and Burmese architecture and art dating back to the Ayutthaya Period. The artist uses bones as a source of inspiration to paint. It is definitely not a place for animal lovers. There are also various kinds of baskets and drums from many regions and countries on display at Baandam. Not all exhibits are open to public. Open to everyone except tour groups, and admission is free. For more information or to arrange group visits, call +66 89 767 4444 or +66 53 705 834.
You can travel to the Black House by public transport. There is a public bus from the Chiang Rai bus station (20 baht, 30 min, platforms 5 & 6, but ask driver or the Tourist Information counter in the station). The bus will drop you off on the highway and you'll have to walk about 500 m down a side road to get there. To get back, walk back to the opposite side of the highway and flag down a public bus or songthaew. You shouldn't have to pay more than 20 baht. Tip: Buy a cold drink at the small store along the highway, put on some repellent and find a sheltered place to wait instead - the proper bus shelter is another 120m away from the alighting area. Public buses have up to a 40min wait.
  • Chiang Rai First Church, its largest, was built in 1914 at PratuSiri corner. It's Presbyterian.
  • Munniti Chiang Rai Across from Sammakkhi Wittayakhom School on Banpaprakan is this Taoist and Mahayana Buddhist temple, a rare sight in Theraveda Buddhist Thailand. There is a Shan house nearby. And on the road to Pattaya Noi is a temple dedicated to to the Chinese Goddess of Mercy featuring a large statue. In the Ban Kheck area is another Goddess of Mercy temple.
  • Wat Klong Wiang. Dating back to 1432, this is an excellent but little-visited temple showcasing exuberant Lanna-style at its best. Noteworthy are the colourful guardian statues, the elephants in the back and the "No Killing Area" admonition at the entrance.
  • Wat Ming Meuang, intersection of Banphaprakan and Trairat Rds. Small temple housing the spirit of the city (ming meuang) in an exquisitely carved and decorated Lanna-style, almost Laotian wiharn.
  • Wat Phra Kaeo This beautiful Buddhist temple on Trairat Rd right in town is famous for having housed, in the 14th century, the Emerald Buddha, one of the most famous Buddha images in Thailand. According to legend, the statue was (re)discovered when a bolt of lightning hit a chedi (stupa) on the grounds, cracking it open and revealing the Buddha inside. The temple grounds are lush with greenery and house a compact but excellent two-story air conditioned museum, with a near-exact replica (1 mm shorter!) of the Emerald Buddha. The original is now housed in Bangkok in the temple of the same name, on the grounds of the Royal Palace.
replica Buddha at Wat Phra Kaeo
  • Wat Phra Sing (วัดพระสิงห์) is located near the townhall used to house a major Buddha statue, the Phra Buddha Sihing, which is now enshrined in Chiang Mai. Like Wat Phra Kaeo, the temple now houses a replica instead. A special feature is the Lanna-style Ubosot and the wooden door panels carved by Chiang Rai contemporary craftsmen. Tel: +66 53 745 038.
Gate to Wat Phra Singh
  • Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong (วัดพระธาตุดอยจอมทอง), located on Doi Chom Thong on the banks of the Kok River within the town area, contains what is believed to be the oldest holy relic even before King Mengrai built Chiang Rai. The chedi containing the holy relic was probably renovated at the same time the town was being built. A major religious site in Chiang Rai. It was from here that King Mengrai spotted the strategic location on which to establish the town. Tel: +66 53 716 055.
  • White Temple (วัดร่องขุ่น Wat Rong Khun), located at Ban Rong Khun, Tambon Pa O Don Chai, along Phahonyothin roadside at Km816, approximately 13 km from the city. This unique modern temple was designed and built by artist Chaloemchai Khositphiphat starting in 1998. A beautiful white ordination hall—Phra Ubosot—is decorated with silver glittering pieces of mirrors. There are large mural paintings of the Lord Buddha in different gestures. A gable is decorated with a gable apex, a leaf-shaped gable-edging in the shapes of Phya Naga, dragon and mythical creatures, which are entirely made of white stucco. There are viharn, small halls for recitation surrounding the ordination hall, museum, and reception pavilion. The gallery exhibits paintings of Chaloemchai Khositphiphat. Work on the temple continues, and it is not expected to be completed for the next few decades. It opens daily at 08:00-17:00. Tel: +66 53 673 579 Fax: +66 53 673 539. Entry is free. It's easy to get to the temple by public transport: there is a public bus from the Chiang Rai bus station (20 baht, 30 min; platform 8, but ask driver or counter). To get back, flag down a public bus or songthaew from the police station on the left side of the road leading back to the main highway.

Edit 7th May 2014: Due to the damage from the earthquake on the 5th May, visitors are currently not allowed to enter the Temple or access the majority of the site. Views are still available of the main temple, the entrance and along the road to the side of the temple.

White Temple

Museums[edit]

  • The Chiang Rai Cultural Centre is just north of the new airport, to the other side of the highway, next door to Rajapat Teacher's College.
  • Cultural Hall Museum Near the TAT building on Singhaklai Rd is a large white building that has a huge statue of King Mongkut at the main entrance. Visitors can find prehistoric tools, two medieval cannons, costume examples, ancient pottery, and examples of ancient Lanna literature in the Dhamma script. There are also videos available, a model of the city and a display of five major areas of Tai culture. Admission for adults is 10 baht, for children 5 baht.
  • Haw Shan Art Gallery Out NongBua Rd, across from Family Bakery, in a large, dark-wood, Shan-style pavilion. It can be opened for special showings.
  • Hill Tribe Museum and Education Centre, 620/1 Tanalai Rd, Tel. +66 53 740 088, [6]. Situated in the centre of town, it is aimed at promoting a better understanding of hill tribes and their cultures. The dusty low-key displays include housing styles, tools, utensils and traditional hunting, fishing. and agricultural equipment, but it's worth a visit for an unsanitised view of how the hill tribes are exploited by some Thais and the tourist industry.

The centre also runs their own hill tribe tours, where the money actually goes to employ and help the tribes people. Open 08:30 to 18:00. There is a branch of Bangkok's Cabbages and Condoms restaurant downstairs, whose profits go to support family planning and sex education projects in Thailand. Additionally, the museum on Level 3 accepts donations of blankets and warm clothing as the winter season can be very cold for the children of the hill tribes.

  • Lanna Museum, at Rong Rian Ban Sang Khong Yai, just southwest of Chiang Rai Hospital at an elementary school. It is opened by request.
  • Mae Fah Luang Art & Cultural Park, 5 km west of town, has lovely two lakes, a barge and several large Shan-style small ponds. There is interesting Haw Kam Golden Temple with two Shan halls containing accoutrements collected by Princess Maha Chakri and examples of Lanna craftsmanship: seven-armed candelabra, Buddha images, wooden alters, embroidered cloth for wrapping Buddhist scriptures, carved wood screens, swords, and monks' fans.
  • Oub Kham Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์อูปคำ), 81/1 Na Khai Rd, Tambon Rob Wiang near Den Ha Market, one kilometre from the centre of town. The collection embraces objects used in the royal courts such as Lanna, Khum Chao Phare and Khum Chao Chiang Mai some parts are from northeast Myanmar, southwest China and Vietnam which are about 500-1,000 years old. Visitors can admire 120 year-old ancient fabrics, Sin Mai Kham-golden silk skirt-from the Mandalay, the golden throne, king’s golden costumes and silver ornaments. A golden bowl used by royals, is a masterpiece. All of those show the glory of the kingdom in the past. It opens daily from 09:00-17:00. Admission for adults is 200 baht and for children 100 baht. Tel: +66 53 713 349.
  • Princess Mother '90 Museum is a sizeable fascinating pavilion dedicated to the life of the beloved Princess Mother (mother of the present king, King Rama IX). On display are fine collections of lacquer boxes, wooden pulleys, pottery, weaving equipment and some old handwritten folded texts with drawings. Admission is free.
  • The Sirindhorn Chinese Language and Culture Centre (ศูนย์ภาษาวัฒนธรรมจีนสิรินธร)at Mae Fah Luang University was established through the cooperation of Mae Fa Luang University and the People’s Republic of China. The centre was built as a memorial to honour the Princess mother as a symbol of friendship between the two nations. The centre’s design adheres to Chinese principles. Construction took 7 months to complete at a cost of approximately 60 million baht. The architecture replicates the Suzhou Chinese structure, building decorations and the garden ornaments by complying with the design layouts and using authentic materials shipped from China. The roofing tiles, the doors and the marble tiles laid at the entrance are all examples of a few of the materials brought from China. Tel: +66 53 917 093, +66 53 917 097. [7]

Other[edit]

Chiang Rai Beach
Phucheefah
  • The Kok River (แม่น้ำกก) flows through the town of Chiang Rai and is 130 km long. Chiang Rai Beach lies on the banks of this river and is a popular picnic spot in summer. Long-tailed boats and cruise can be made from town to travel along both sides of lovely sceneries. Stops can be made at hill tribe villages of the Akha, Lisu, Lahu, and Karen, etc. Elephant rides are also available to see the surrounding area. For more information, contact C.R. Pier, Tel: +66 53 750 009. Another river route starts from Tha Ton in Chiang Mai going northward to Chiang Rai. The boat trip takes about four hours. Trips by bamboo raft takes 3 days and 2 nights, contact Tha Ton Boat Club. Tel: +66 53 459 427 or Thip Travel Tel: +66 53 459 312.
  • Gate of Siam - on the border with Laos - you stand high up on a mountain and Laos is in front of you across the mighty Mekong River.
  • Phucheefah - great sunrise view.
  • Namtok Khun Kon Forest Park (วนอุทยานน้ำตกขุนกรณ์) can be reached by taking Hwy 1211 from town. After 18 km, turn right and proceed on for another 12 km. Or go along Hwy 1 (Chiang Rai-Phayao) for about 15 km where there is a right turn to proceed further another 17 km, then a 30-minute walk to the waterfall. The highest and most scenic waterfall in Chiang Rai, Khun Kon, is some 70 m in height. Along the route to the site are cool, shady natural surroundings suitable for relaxation and nature walks. It is somewhat of a walk from the parking area, and it is quite hilly, so if you are not reasonably fit for a half hour walk over undulating terrain, then do not try it.
  • The King Mengrai the Great Memorial (อนุสาวรีย์พ่อขุนเม็งรายมหาราช) is located in town on the intersection leading to Mae Chan. Originally, King Mengrai was the ruler of Nakhon Hiran Ngoen Yang (an ancient town on the bank of the Mae Khong around Chiang Saen) before Chiang Rai was established as the administrative centre in 1262. He consolidated his power by merging the different city in the north and founded the Lanna Thai Kingdom in 1296 with Chiang Mai as the capital.
  • The King Mengrai Stupa (กู่พระเจ้าเม็งราย) in front of Wat Ngam Mueang atop Doi Ngam Mueang in Muang district was built by King Chaisongkram to contain the remains of his father (King Mengrai).

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Organize a trekking tour to the hill tribes; various companies, such as Akha Hill house or Thailand Hilltribe Holidays [8] can organise this.
  • Rock Climbing just 3 km northwest of Chiang Rai. Beautiful limestone rock soars up 80 m. Two dozen routes, all skill levels, are cleared and fixed for top roping. Also at Boomerang Adventure Park; the only zip lines north of Chiang Mai, and Asia's largest swing, called 'Pie in the Sky'. It has an arc of 45 m.
  • Views of City Buffalo Horn Hill has a splendid overview of Chiang Rai. Take the old road to Chiang Mai, called Thanon Ratchayotha. After a few kilometres, a hill can be seen on the left. Take a left at Nongpoung Soi 3 and wind toward the hill with the temple on top. Other sweeping views can be gained from the top of Doi Kong Kao (Rice Box Hill) 4 km west of town. There's a steep walkway up its western side, well worth it. There is a 3 m standing gold-coloured Buddha statue at its summit. The summit of the 90 m vertical limestone cliff at Boomerang Park affords a view of the city and miles of the river valley, though it's a bouldering scramble up its west flank to get there.
  • Waterfalls and Hot Springs Kun Korn is a 70 m waterfall about 15 km south of town. Take a right at the wooden sign of the same name. Take the scenic windy road to its end. A smaller set of waterfalls is northwest of town at Mae Sai hill tribe village (not the border town of the same name). There's also a hill tribe museum at that village. Yet another pair of rather large waterfalls is west of town at an Akha village. Go west from town, along the south side of the river, for about 19 km, and look for signs which lead you left in to steep hills. Pong Phra Bat hot springs; Take highway 1 north out of Chiang Rai, to the first village (Bandu)/turn left just after the big market on the Hwy. Go for about 5 km. If you continue on that road to its end, you get to Pong Prabat waterfall, which is a year 'round steam winding through a very nice forest. Another hot springs is Pha Soet, near the river. It's located on a winding road going directly west out of town, which parallels the river - about 29 km. Huai Hin Fon hot springs and nearby waterfall are 7.5 km west of Mae Chan, on the south side of the road.
  • Golf There are three high class golf courses east of Chiang Rai. Happy City is 8 kms east of town, Santiburi is 10 km east of town and Waterford Valley is 35 km northeast of town. In town there are two 9-hole courses. The Army Course that you find close to Mae Fa Luang Bridge and The Old Airport course, which also has a driving range. You can also find a golf instructor there.
  • Volunteer. The International Humanity Foundation has an orphanage and education centre. Voluntourists [9] are encouraged to teach English, math, and computer classes, and play with and become friends with the children. Akha Hill House also requires volunteers to help teach the Akha hill tribe children English or to work on the website. See [10] for details.
  • Challenging and Educational Activities called Farm Ken it's a group of houses at a rural site with organic orchards. It has 62 avocado trees, and the only grapefruit trees in Thailand. Located at the small village of Hoy Plakang, just 2 km north of Chiang Rai. Some projects include; solar energy, playground devices for childrens' recreation, small alternative power projects, and innovative buildings are going up at a steady clip. Once in awhile we host a 'harmony workshop' which takes a group of folks and gets them singing harmonies, even if they claim they don't have any musical talent.
  • Lion Hill Cave Located 2 km west of town, directly across the Mae Kok River from Pattaya Noi. On its west end there's a Buddha Cave and a pleasant picnic/park area. Close to its east end, there's a 3-chambered cavern, and each chamber has a natural skylight at its apex. The largest chamber is big enough to house a middle-aged sequoia tree. Trekkers can hike through the hills from the river side (south) to the road side (north). Volunteers from nearby Boomerang Park have kept both approaches clear of weeds, and have cut a new path leading from the north opening to the road below. Lion Hill is also home to Thailand's largest red fig tree, halfway along the hill on the river side. Early summer is when you can see its massive branches covered in dark pink figs.
  • Wanna Farm is an interesting place about 5 km east of Chiang Rai on 1020 (go east at the big light on the highway south of town). The farm has ostriches which you can feed or for 150 baht, ride. It has a low-quality midway section with old carnival games to play. Offers camping and other random activities as well.
  • Central Plaza Movie Theatre Central Plaza has a movie theatre that shows English-language movies.
  • Bi-lingual Movie Nights, Open Mic Nights, Yoga, Monthly Art Exhibitions and Workshops at Prataap Jai in Sankhongnoi (home to the Sunday Happy St). This small three storey shop aims to be a place "where cultures align". It offers a number of affordable activities in both English and Thai. The website details current events. [11]
  • Bicycling Chiang Rai is made for cycling; little traffic, good roads, flat. Many shops rent out bicycles. If you are looking for a proper bike try ADD Bike at 151/4 Thanalai Road. Tel. 053-744-317, GPS – N 19 54.485, E 099 49.621. Or Fat Free Bike Shop, 542/2 Baanpa Pragarn Road Tel. 053-752-532, 089-755-4676 GPS – N 19 54.412, E 099 49.973. (Near clocktower).

Festivals[edit]

  • Wai Sa Phaya Mengrai or Phokhun Mengrai Maharat Festival (งานไหว้สาพญาเม็งราย หรือ งานพ่อขุนเม็งรายมหาราช) is held 23 January–1 February. See the Buang Suang worshipping ceremony which commemorates Phokhun Mengrai Maharat. The fair is organised by the Chiang Rai Provincial Office, Tel: +66 53 711 612
  • Lychee Fair (งานเทศกาลลิ้นจี่และของดีเมืองเชียงราย) is held around the middle of May every year. There is a float competition, lychee beauty contest and booths of many local products at the provincial stadium of Chiang Rai.

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Morning Market- In the morning there is a good market in Chiang Rai that sells bamboo sticks, fish, among a lot of good local foods meaning you get a real feel for the place.
  • Night Bazaar & Food Court - The bazaar is located between the bus station and Phaholyothin Rd in the centre of town. The market consists of many small stands lining the narrow street running between Phaholyothin Rd and the bus station. Everything on display from silk ready-made garments to tattoo etching, even pets. The hill tribes sell an amazing selection of old coins, high quality needlework, and very fine quilted bed spreads.
  • Saturday Walking Street - The Saturday Walking Street is located on Thanon Thanalai in the centre of town. The market is 4 blocks long with a attached food area with music near the Eastern End. The market is open between 18:00 until 22:00.
  • Sunday Walking Street - As of August 2011 there is now a second walking street along Sankhongnoi, southwest of the town centre. Though slightly smaller, the Sankhongnoi Happy Street features more performances and cultural activities than the Saturday Walking Street.
  • Central Plaza - Central Plaza is Chiang Rai's mall. Located south of the city centre on the super highway it is 4 stories tall and has cinema which shows English-language movies. It has a high end supermarket with many Western foods (Grd Flr). It is located across the highway from Big C and is connected by a pedestrian bridge. Big C has a number of small shops surrounding as well and acts as a mini mall. Big C clothes have Western sizes. Both Big C and Central Plaza have food courts.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Night Bazaar food court opening up at dusk

There is lots of good food to be found in Chiang Rai, but most tourists seem to end up eating at the Night Bazaar. There are two separate places to eat here: "Centrepoint", run by a single restaurant with a Western-Thai menu and comparatively high prices (dishes 100-200 baht), and then the "actual" night bazaar food court (dishes 30-100 baht). Both have free music and dance performances almost nightly. The one run by the Night Market Restaurant has comfortable wooden furniture while the food court uses rather ugly yellow metal tables and chairs. While there are over 50 food stalls to choose from, the fare on offer is mostly quite touristy, with food toned down for the farang palate. About half the stalls seem to be devoted to selling deep-fried stuff (fritters, French fries, tempura, etc) to accompany beer. There are also a few non-Thai stalls, offering Italian, Indian, German etc, plus the obligatory (and extremely overpriced) insect stall for creepy-crawly cravings.

  • Chiang Rai Beach during the day or the early evening is an excellent spot. There are around 20 cafes and restaurants overlooking the 'Mae Kok River'. Bring your dictionary with you for there are no English menus to be found. A bit out of town. Go by tuk-tuk or motorbike.
  • Coconut Bar on the bar street close to Wangcome Hotel. Has good vegetarian options including a good vegetable stew and a chili-sin-carne.
  • Muang Thong Restaurant, delicious Chinese food, very popular with locals. At the edge of Jettyod Rd and Phaholyothin Rd. Try the garlic fish.
  • Nakhon Pathom (นครปฐม), Th Phahonyothin, near Banphaprakan Rd intersection. The famous khao moo deng (rice with red sautéed pork, or as shown on the menu: 'rice with BBQ pork', 30 baht) tastes best at this big Chinese restaurant. No English sign, but looks for the red sign board with large yellow font Thai letters. It's opposite the Lebanese shop. Big cold coffee machines attract the locals to having lunch there.
  • Phetburi, Th Banphaprakan. Local curry-and-rice restaurant, just pick your favourites from the display. Under 50 baht for a full meal. Ratburi, right next door, is very similar.
Khao soi at Po Sai
  • Po Sai, Thanon Jet Yot 1023/2 (opposite Wangcome Hotel). Famous for its khao sawy (Burmese style chicken curry with noodles, 30 baht) and other northern dishes like special Northern Thai sausage (25 baht) and nam phrik num (dip made of aubergine and peppers). No English sign or menu, but some English spoken. Open early but closes by 18:00.
  • Tong Tung Restaurant (no English sign) serves you Northern Thai food. Try this semi-outdoor place on the western side of the road about 1 km south of Banphaprakan Rd on 1/1 Thanon Sanambin (old Airport Rd). Their 'Kaeng Hung Lay' curry is recommended.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Aye's Restaurant Great restaurant, serving both European and Thai quality food. From German schnitzels and English breakfast to traditional Thai food. Located on Paholyothin Rd diagonally opposite entrance to Night Bazaar. There's a nice atmosphere and a live music every night.
  • Coffee P2 is a nice coffee shop located on Thanalai Rd (Saturday Walking Street) near Ratanaket Rd. Their food is organic and they grow their own hydroponic lettuce. They also have delicious steaks and good pastries. You can also get a beer.
  • Da Vinci is another good place on the main road serving nice pizzas from a wood burning oven as well as pastas and salads. Their lasagne is recommended.
  • Doi Chang is a coffee shop that has hit the big time. It is located on the corner of Ratanaket and Phayonyothin (the big light near the night bazaar). Usually packed, the owner has been steadily increasing his prices but still the farang come. Their coffee is pretty famous in Thailand and they have a nice cross section of Western and middle eastern food.
  • Ingfa is located just west of the town centre on Ratchayotha. This new restaurant has a vast menu of Thai and Western food including pizzas. Their hamburger is probably the best in Chiang Rai.
  • The North In The North Hotel. Specializes in home-made Northern-style food. Here you can find Northern Thai sausage, Kaeng Hunglay (northern pork curry) and a variety of northern style dishes made by the mother of the owner. Their family recipes will give you a real taste of Northern cuisine. The North Hotel is situated next to Oasis, just in the middle of a small street between the Night Bazaar and fruit and flower market.2013-05-28, the personnel derisively claimed to never have had a restaurant in the place.
  • Oasis is a very specialized and delicious vegetarian restaurant. Behind the new main stage at the 'Night Bazaar' you'll notice a high building situated behind the small cafes which still belong to the market. It's at the corner of a street which leads to the fruit market. A "must" for vegetarians. Open until 20:00.
  • Rico's is located just west of the town centre on Uttarakit (across the street from Concotel). This is the place to be if you're an older farang who likes to play golf. There is a lively expat community of retirees. Plenty of Western food (including pizzas) and a nice drink selection keeps everyone coming back. Also Rico is very friendly and spends most of his time hanging out, he'll probably come say "hi" is he sees you.
  • Soodkhed Steak serves meat-based Western fare at a very affordable price range outside the tourist centre. Situated at the residential end of Thanon Baanpapragarn, after the High School. Fan-only. No alcohol served.
  • Siam Corner on Jet Yot Rd. Very good Thai food, some Western dishes also.

Splurge[edit]

  • C&C Cabbages and Condoms (ซี แอนด์ ซี), 620/25 Thanalai Rd (Hilltribe Museum), Tel: +66 53 719 167, [12]. Classy (if somewhat toned-down) Thai food in chic settings, with condoms cropping up in all sorts of unexpected places. Profits go to support family planning and sex education in Thailand.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Jet Yod Rd is lined with farang-friendly bars, restaurants, and guest houses.

  • Rose Bar, (Just off Jet Yod Road opposite Wangcome Hotel). classy bar with some nice outside seating  edit
  • Cat Bar, (on Jet Yod Rd). with jam sessions almost every day and a pool table  edit
  • Easy Bar, (on Jet Yod Rd). Open all day. You can have a meal here, read The Bangkok Post, watch cable TV  edit
  • Malabar, (on Jet Yod Rd).  editfresh ground coffee, fruit shakes, Happy Hour until 8PM - buy 3 get 1 free and 120 baht cocktails.
  • Reggae Bar, (situated somewhere in Night Bazaar's little alleys behind the silver-coloured stage). Open after 20:00. Good variety of music and drinks. Later local farangs meet here  edit
  • Rasta Bar, (on San Khok Chang Rd). Rasta music.  edit
  • SiTSip Bar & Coffee House, (on the ground floor, Wangcome Hotel), +66 53 711 800. The place is decorated in modern style. Serving drinks, foods and snacks, and lots of cocktails.  edit
  • Teepee Bar, 542/4 Phaholyothin Rd. The place has great ambiance and a eclectic collection of artifacts, a friendly staff, and fairly low-priced drinks. Also is a great place for pictures with rock style wigs and guitars, and there is a good selection of music.  edit
  • The Turntable Jazz Bar, (in the North Hotel between the Night Bazaar and Sirikorn (flower and fruit) Market), +66 53 719 873 (fax: +66 53 740 156), [13]. This is the only place you can find a wide range of jazz records from the 40 year-old collection of the hotel’s Norwegian co-owner. Several jazz-related books can also be found. The bar offers cheap beer and drinks and a friendly atmosphere.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget less than 500 baht
Mid-range 500-1,500 baht
Splurge over 1,500 baht


Budget[edit]

  • Akha Camping [14]Set in the stunning mountains of Doi Chaang, Mae Suai, Chiang Rai, Camp on a private site in an authentic hill tribe vilage from 100-500 baht.☎+66 93 256 2760"
  • City Home Guest House, ☎+66 053600155, 868 Paholyothin Rd, 2 mins walk from bus station. 50m north of Night Bazaar entrance. Dorm room (6 beds) 180 Baht. Rooms as well. Free Wi-Fi. Nice staff. Backs onto Night Bazaar and so is noisy until 12:00am.
  • Tourist Inn [15] 1004/1 Jedyod road, pretty close to the bus station. 150B for a single room with shared toilet (pretty clean) to 600B Deluxe AC room. Free speedy Wi-Fi. Staff is a little bit distant but it's pretty usual for a big place with no personality, however, this is good value for money hotel and it's walking distance from everything. As of Feb 2014 email and website do not work.
  • Chian House, 172 Sriboonruang Rd (North of the City not far form Kok river), [16]. Very friendly staff, Family run, swimming pool. Walking distance to Local market, Night Bazaar, Bars, Kok river and many temples. 180-500 Bath.  edit
  • Akha Hill House, (Free pickup service leaves from Akha River House), +66 89 997 5505, [17]. Based 23 km west of Chiang Rai in the jungle-covered hills, a great retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. The rooms views of the jungle and sun rising over the misty mountains, and the nearby waterfall and hot springs are well worth a visit. The staff are friendly and eager to learn or practice their English. Open-air restaurant, electric hot water, free WiFi, pick-up and drop-off. (19.9434095,99.67284500) edit
  • Baan Norn Plearn Guesthouse, 382 Banpaprakan Rd (close to Bus Station 1 and Wat Phra Kaew), +66 87 304 8911 (). checkin: flexible; checkout: 12:00. Fourteen uniquely decorated rooms with modern amenities. Comfortable, clean, quiet, and secure. Enjoy complimentary breakfast, 24-hour kitchen use with coffee and tea provided, free Wi-Fi and use of well-maintained bicycles for guest convenience. Spacious café, garden, family room, and reading book. Laundry service, cheerful and objective touring advice, and motorbike rental available. English spoken and environmentally friendly. Please review pictures via Facebook page. 450+ baht.  edit
  • Chat House [18] 80-400 baht. Good attached restaurant and friendly staff. Free Wi-Fi. Near Wat Phra Kaeo. Laundry for 40 baht/kg.
  • Fun-D Hostel Chiang Rai (ฝันดี โฮสเทล เชียงราย), 753 Phahonyothin Rd., Wiang, Meuang (1 km from the Bus Station 1, walk north-east to the bigger road and follow it east), +66(0)53 712 123, +66(0)90 520 0688 (), [19]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: at Noon. Fun-D Hostel Chiang Rai is a brand new chic & colorful place with 24-hour reception, providing all air conditioning dorms; 4 bunk beds with shared but separate gender bathrooms, or the dorms with private bathrooms and 1 double deluxe room. Self service breakfast included from 7 a.m.-10 a.m..Nice restaurant serving Thai and fusion dishes. Free Wi-Fi throughout the area. The Laundry is offering Automatic coin-operated washing machine & dryer. Located in the center of Chiang Rai, easy to travel and explore the whole city with variety of tourist attractions. dorm from ฿259+. (19.907762,99.84042) edit
  • Lek & Damian, Sanpanad Road, Newly opened, family-run and very friendly homestay place! Just three Dormbeds (150 Baht) and one Singleroom (250 Baht), but cosy and clean. Free Wi-Fi, drinking water and hot shower. The owner Lek is amazingly helpful and welcoming!
  • Easy House, 869/163-4 Premaviphat Rd, +66 53 60 0 963. Simple fan rooms with shared bathrooms. Bathrooms and rooms are clean though the mattresses are rather worn. Nice bar/restaurant downstairs. No laundry but laundromats nearby. 170 baht.  edit
  • Jitaree Guest House, (next to Mae Hong Son Guest House.). Twin/double with fan and private bathroom. included WiFi, in a quiet courtyard. 300 baht. (19.914001,99.834239) edit Clean rooms (with tv) and friendly staff. Owner can arrange motorbike renting (300 THB & up). The concrete building makes the room feeling more private compared to traditional Thai wooden buildings.
  • Mae Hong Son Guest House in Chiang Rai, 126 Santirach Rd, tel. +66 05 371 5367, +66 86 586 4764. Located ~1 km (~15 min walk from bus station) north of downtown. Pass the police station it's the second alley on the right, before the new bridge (not on the LP map). Rooms are basic, but clean and staff are very friendly. Doubles from 150 baht (fan and shared bathroom) to 250 baht (private bathroom). Free Wi-Fi. Good restaurant & bar, bicycle/motorbike rental, laundry service (40 baht/kg) and tour service.

-(November 2013)Thai wooden building. Double rooms w/bathroom attached are located on ground floor, and have quite low height to the ceiling, watch your head enter/exit the doors aswell! Bathroom is old and unappeling. Something very similar to centipede comes crawling out from the bathrooms water drain, and manages to get into the bedroom. Rooms upstairs are a better option, though very bacic and feeling of little privacy as the walls are thin and you can clearly hear neighbour even wispering. Staff is kind. A much better alternative is Jitaree,10 meters before MHS G.H.

  • Orchids Guesthouse, 1012/3 Jet Yod Rd (off Jet Yod Rd), +66 53 718 361. 15 new very clean, spotless double rooms with air-con, TV, free Wi-Fi, coffee/tea included. Central location, quiet rooms, they also offer car, bicycles or motorcycle hire and trekking options with a licensed guide. 350-450 baht.  edit
  • Ruangnakorn Hotel (near the police station) costs 450 baht.
  • Sport Inn Hotel 557 Prachasanti Rd, tel: +66 53 756 959, fax: +66 53 756 156. Very nice hotel, free Wi-Fi, 5 minutes from the centre of town, Air-con double rooms 350 baht.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Akha River House, 423/25 Moo 21 Kholoy, +66 89 997 5505 (), [21]. checkout: 12:00. Quiet guest house. Free Wi-Fi, laundry. 20 rooms. Mud-style house with bamboo furniture. Lots of space to relax outside. On the bank of the Mea Kok River. It has a nice restaurant and their staff are very friendly. Organise a great jungle trek. 250 baht double (communal bathroom) 350 baht double (private bathroom) - 1,200 baht. (19.916140433333336,99.83226896666667) edit
  • Baan Lanna Hotel, 395 Moo 2, Rimkok, +66 53 712 555 (). Clean air-con rooms, mini-bar and friendly staff. 450-800 baht.  edit
  • Ban Lom Jen Homestay, 227 Moo 4, Maeyao, +66 85 622 2097 (). Air-con and fan-rooms 24 square metres, private shower, balcony, 24" LCD-satellite TV, fridge, double or twin box spring beds, free Wi-Fi public areas and in rooms. 550-1,150 baht.  edit
  • Baan Warabordee, 59/1 Sanpanard Rd, Moo 18, +66 53 754 488 (fax: +66 53 719 293). Very beautiful, clean, air-con, well-decorated rooms in a quiet street near the centre, in the street behind the Wiang Inn. English is spoken reasonably well. It is a 300m walk to a main road, and close to the bus station and night market. You can drop laundry some 300m up the road, give them your hotel number,and they will return it by evening if you put it in before 09:00 (they do not speak English). Another 50m at the main road intersection is a restaurant where you can get a good Thai breakfast for under 100 baht, and a cheap dinner with beer also. Some English spoken there. 600 baht.  edit
  • Ban Khun Yo (บ้านขุนยม), 155, +66 53 716 216. 42 rooms 600-800 baht.  edit
  • Ban Silp (บ้านศิลป์), 260/44, +66 53 756 335-6. 27 rooms 300-600 baht.  edit
  • Kaeo Fa Sai Nanglae Resort (แก้วฟ้าใส นางแล รีสอร์ท), 298/49 Moo 5 Thanon Thasud, Baan Borthong, Amphur Muang Chiang Rai 57110, (), [23]. Mountain views, with pool. Very quiet. All rooms aircon.  edit
  • City Home, 868 Phahonyothin Rd, +66 53 600 155 (). 20 rooms, fan/air, cable TV. Good location near night market and bus station. Clean rooms, good value for money. 600 baht.  edit
  • Kong Garden View Resort, 134/12 M.3 T. Robwiang Muang (3,5 km away from city centre on a small alley from the route 1233), +66 82 762-8941 (), [24]. checkout: 12:00. Large hotel with a central lake, popular among local tourist. Very good value for money. Free shuttle service to bus station and night market. Rooms from800 baht (600 in low season) including buffet breakfast. Fridge, TV, air-con, Wi-Fi.  edit
  • Lek House, 95 Rachayotha Rd, +66 53 711 550 (). 4 backpacker rooms, 8 superior rooms: TV, DVD, mini-bar, hot & cold shower, 1 Jacuzzi room. All rooms include breakfast. Friendly staff, swimming pool, genuine Thai kitchen at low-budget prices, bar, free Wi-Fi. 350-1,300 baht.  edit
  • New Life Foundation, No. 49, Moo 1, Amphoe Don Sila, Wiang Chai District, Chiang Rai, +66 85 714 2834 (). Friendly non-profit mindful recovery and self-development community on a farm set amongst hills and lakes 30 minutes outside of Chiang Rai city. Great value for money. Clean and basic en suite rooms with fans available for guest stays. Rate inclusive of healthy breakfast and Thai-style buffet lunch and dinner, use of swimming pool, steam bath, and free access to yoga, Tai chi, and meditation sessions held twice daily. Warm water showers, free Wi-Fi in dining hall. Single rooms 750 baht per night, twinshare rooms (2 persons max) 1250 baht per night. Air-con an extra 200 baht per night..  edit
  • Sunantha House and Business Hotel, 395/1 Moo 21 Santirat Rd, Rob Wiang, Meuang, +66 53 744 898 (), [25]. checkin: After 2pm; checkout: 12 pm. Comfortable, exceptionally clean, quiet and cosy hotel located very close to restaurants and the Mae Sai market, approximately 1km from the city centre. All rooms have private balcony, queen sized beds, air conditioning, refrigerator private bathroom with shower, TV with free cable, free Wi-Fi. Laundry service available. Bicycle and motor scooter rentals (150 baht/day) are available for guests. 500-600 baht.  edit

Splurge[edit]

  • Luck Swan Resort and Spa, 499 Moo 4, Rimkok, +66 53 750 855 (fax: +66 53 750 857), [26]. New hotel with Thai and Western food. Air-con rooms. Hotel has a nice garden and gazebo. 1,200 to 1,800 baht. Free Internet access in the lobby.  edit
  • La Luna, (a short drive from the Chiang Rai morning market), [27]. Giant bed, nice wet room/bathroom, big satellite TV in the rooms plus nice swimming pool. The gardens are the best feature: lots of tropical plants well-maintained in a labyrinth of guest villas. The restaurant is comparatively expensive compared to the rest of Chiang Rai but aren't all hotels. Basic meals are 250 to 350 baht, but require add-ons like plain water 50 baht or a small bowl of rice 50 baht. Large breakfast choice including western breakfast items, Thai porridge is on offer which is a must try. Overall, the place is beautiful to look at and rooms extremely comfortable but the restaurant is a little expensive compared to other places in Chiang Rai.  edit
  • Phu Chaisai Resort, 388 Moo 4, Ban Mae Salong Nai, Mae Chan, [28]. 3,000-20,000 baht.  edit
  • The Legend Chiang Rai Boutique River Resort & Spa, 124/15 Moo 21 Kohloy Road, +66 (0)53 910 400 (, fax: +66 (0)53 719 650), [29]. The Legend Chiang Rai Resort lies along the Mae Kok River, secluded from Chiang Rai Town, yet only a few minutes by car from the city center. The property has a panoramic view of the near-by hills and mountains. The riverside is rich with large rain trees and lush vegetation. The immediate surroundings are relatively undeveloped, providing a tranquil, natural location ideal for a resort & spa. 3,300 to 9,100 bhat depending on room type and season. (19.918263,99.841062) edit
  • Wangcome Hotel, 69/90 Pemawibhata Rd, +66 53 711 800, [30]. One of Chiang Rai's older hotels located in the city center, it is currently being updated. New modern lobby, conference room, and rooms that look reasonably up to date. Food is still not top-notch though, but it has certainly improved. Rooms ranging from 900-5000 baht.  edit

Contact[edit]

Get out[edit]

Bus schedule at the central bus station
  • Check out the royal villas and mountaintop temple views at Doi Tung, you can hire a car with driver for about 1600 baht for the day, plus fuel, and you go where you want to go.
  • Go northwest to Thaton either up the Kok river (upstream is 5 hours) by boat, or via bus, taxi, or car.


Routes through Chiang Rai
Mae Sai  N noframe S  PhayaoBangkok




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