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Chiang Rai

2.9 /5 35 votes


Best Time: October to February Read More

Ideal duration: 2-3 days

Nearest Airport: Chiang Rai Check Flights

"Of temples and culture"

Chiang Rai Tourism

Chiang Rai is a mountainous city in northern Thailand, near the borders of Laos and Myanmar. It has many ancient temples and tribal villages along the Mekong river. It has a plenitude of historical and cultural attractions and immerses a traveller in its pleasant collection of temples, art, music, and local food.

Chiang Rai is part of the Golden Triangle and was once a hub for opium trade. However, it is now famous for its temples and other cultural attractions, especially the Black and White temples. To experience the real beauty of this countryside, take a calming boat ride in the Mekong.

The city is also known for its very delectable and inexpensive local Thai food. And it is an ideal destination for jungle trekking and engaging with the hill-tribe culture. If you're a sucker for history, beautiful architecture and a laid-back vacation, Chiang Rai should definitely be on your list.

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Currency in Chiang Rai

The hotels and restaurants here accept credit and debit cards. However, it is advisable to carry Thai Baht in hand too as the local vendors at the Night Bazaar might not accept cards.

Exchanging Money in Chiang Rai

It is safer and better to exchange currency at the airport as they have a fixed rate. However, there are many ATMs and other exchange options in the city too. Most of them are around the night bazaar area.

Daily Budget for Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is cheaper than most of the Thailand cities and hence, a budget of THB 900 - 1000 per day would be enough. This includes THB 200 for food, THB 30 for water, THB 200 for alcohol, THB 200 for travelling, THB 200 for activities and entry fees at certain places.

Tips While Visiting Chiang Rai

  • If you visit Chiang Rai in the summer, full pants would be difficult to manage because of the hot weather. Hence shorts would be more comfortable. In the winter, full pants and capris would work.

  • Temples also provide sarongs for women to cover their legs. Appropriate dressing is expected in temples, as with any other Thai city.

  • In Chiang Rai, tipping isn't a necessity but if you really want to appreciate someone's services, THB 20 - 30 is enough.

Language of Chiang Rai

The most common language spoken by the people in Chiang Rai is Lanna and Thai. English is well spoken and understood today by the hotel and restaurant managers. Local vendors at the market might not know much English. Hence, learning a few common phrases would be advisable.

History of Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is known for it's excellent and rich history. It is said that 5,000 years ago, ancestors migrated from China, Laos, and Burma to this city along the Mekong river. Hence, today the culture found at Chiang Rai is the mixture of all these three places. King Mengrai is believed to have found Chiang Rai in 1263. It became the capital of the Mengrai dynasty. Later in 1296, King Mengrai built Chiang Mai and lived there until he died.

Nightlife in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai has limited options for nightlife. There are a few bars near Jet Yod street like Cat Bar. Many bars here have live sports broadcasts, pool tables and CD music is played more often than live music. A few more bars are near the Punyodyana road like Bar Lamyai. Travellers can also visit the Night Bazaar of Chiang Rai to buy a cheap beer or two and enjoy some live music.

However, you shouldn't expect a happening nightlife from Chiang Rai because this city is more about immersing yourself in its culture and natural beauty.

Shopping in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is especially known for handicrafts and other variety of things made by the people from the hill tribes like jewellery, scarves, bags, carpets, etc. The primary spot for shopping in this city is the Night Bazaar located on the Prasopsuk Phaholyothin Road. The goods here are available at very reasonable rates. One can enjoy the live music, sit, laze around, eat delicious and inexpensive local food, and shop souveniers from here. The Walking Street located on the Thanalai road makes for a similar experience. It is famous for its Saturday market which has a more local flavour to it.

Restaurants and Local Food in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai has lesser options for food compared to Chiang Mai. The best and cheapest options are available at the Night Bazaar and the walking street. The street food at these two places is famous for its fried insects like ants, crickets, worms, etc. as snacks, and fresh fruit juices and smoothies. Every local restaurant here will serve sticky glutinous rice, which is the staple food for people of northern Thailand. Laab Sanam Keela, Lu Lam restaurant are a few restaurants that serve delicious local northern Thai food and should be a must-visit if you want to experience the Chiang Rai culture.
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How To Reach Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai has the Mae Fah Luang Airport and is well-connected by flights to and from Singapore, Hongkong, Bangkok, etc. There are daily buses from Bangkok too.

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