Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai (Thai: เชียงราย) is the northernmost province in Thailand (changwat). The province borders the province (from the east under clockwise) Phayao, Lampang and Chiang Mai. To the north, the province bordering Myanmar's Shan State as well as the provinces of Bokeo and Oudomxai Laos.
Chiang Rai Overview
Chiang Rai lies at an elevation of 1,150 feet (350 m) in the basin of the Kok River, near the Khun Tan Range. It has an airport with scheduled flights, and road connections lead south to Lampang and north to Myanmar (Burma) and the Laotian border. It is a trading centre dealing in teak, coffee, and rice. The town was once the walled capital city of an independent principality. The well-known Emerald Buddha, now in Bangkok, was at a temple in the town until 1436, when it was removed to Chiang Mai.
The surrounding mountainous region has a historic orientation to the north, which was somewhat altered by the completion of the southern highway in the 1920s; its population still shows strong cultural ties to Laos, reinforced by Laotian immigration. Rice and tobacco are the major crops, and there are numerous rice mills
Chiang Rai History
Chiang Rai has been inhabited since the 7th century, but it was not until 1262 that King Meng Rai established it as the first capital of the Lanna Kingdom. The capital was later relocated to Chiang Mai and since that time Chiang Rai has lived in the shadow of its neighboring province, though for tourists this is a good thing.Today, Chiang Rai is a traveler’s paradise, endowed with abundant natural attractions and antiquities. Attractions range from ruins of ancient settlements and Buddhist shrines to magnificent mountain scenery and hill tribe villages. For those interested in the natural side of Chiang Rai, jungle trekking is a magical experience; explore the mountains of the north along various hiking trails, many of which access the villages of diverse hill tribes groups, many of whom maintain their traditional lifestyles. Chiang Rai town, which tends to be a little more ‘laid back’ than its more popular neighbor, now competes with Chiang Mai as a tourist attraction and is fast becoming a popular escape for tourists wanting to leave their troubles behind.
Chiang Rai Transportation
By Bus
From Bangkok, there are both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned bus services from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2) on Kamphaengphet 2 Road. The journey may take from 9 to 11 hours, though there are overnight sleeper busses available that may make the time seem to pass more quickly.
From Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, air conditioned busses leave 12 times daily from Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Terminal for the three hour, 182 kilometer ride. Some busses continue on to Mae Sai and Chiang Saen. 
By Car
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 (Phahonyothin Road), to Highway No. 32 passing Ayutthaya, Angthong, and Singburi Provinces. Change over to Highway No. 11 passing Phitsanulok, Uttaradit, and Phrae Provinces then turn left to Highway No. 103, driving through to Ngao District where a right turn back onto Highway No. 1 will lead through Phayao to Chiang Rai Province. The total distance is 785 km.
From Chiang Mai it’s a three hour drive to Chiang Rai if you follow the fastest route and avoid stopping at attractions along the way. Otherwise there are several routes one can take between the two cities, the most straightforward of which are:
1. Take Highway No.107 north to Route No.109 and then Highway No.1 to Chiang Rai.
2. Travel South to Lampang on Highway No.11 and then follow Highway No.1 North to Chiang Rai.
By Plane
Thai Airways and Thai AirAsia have daily flights connecting Bangkok with Chiang Rai. For more information, visit or From Chiang Mai, both Thai Airways and Nok Air have service to Chiang Mai, though Nok offers flights only a few day each week. 
By Train
There is no direct train to Chiang Rai. Visitors must take a train to Lampang (9 hrs. from Bangkok) or Chiang Mai (11 hrs.) and then take a bus to Chiang Rai. (2 hrs. from Lampang and 1.30 hrs. from Chiang Mai).
By Boat
Chiang Rai may also be reached from Tha Thon in Chiang Mai province via a scenic 4 to 6 hour long-tail boat ride along the Mae Kok River, depending on water levels, currents, and climatic conditions, such as rain.
Chiang Rai Climate and best time to see
Chiang Rai is 1280ft above sea level and surrounded by grassy plains, jungle canopies, and rivers which keep the valley cooler with lower humidity than other places in Thailand. The annual average temperature is 24°C (75°F), but it can go as high as 36°C (97°F) and as low as 10 - 15°C (50 - 59°F) at night in cool season.
The length of the daytime in Chiang Rai may vary over the year. Nevertheless, we can say that the average sunny day of the dry season (cool and hot season) is about 12-13 hours, but it will be shorter in the rainy season, about 10 hours.
Rainfall is usually heaviest in August and September, with the average precipitation of 250 mm (9.8 inches). It is rare to have rain in the cool and the hot season. The annual average rainfall is 173.7 mm (6.8 inches).
Best Time to Visit Chiang Rai
The best time to visit Chiang Rai for outdoor activities is from October to February. This period belongs to the cool season in Thailand (although to many westerners the weather in this period can seem pretty hot). This season provides blue clear skies with cool and refreshing weather.
Nevertheless, Chiang Rai is an all-year-round tourist destination, so visitors may come at any time. Chiang Rai has three seasons in a year. If October to February is the cool season, then March to May is the hot season, and June to September is the rainy season. The hottest temperature is 36oC (97°F) and the lowest temperature is 10°C (50°F).

Things to do and see in Chiang Rai
Spot Superman, Minions, and more at the White Temple
A visit to Chiang Rai won’t be complete without visiting its most renowned temple, Wat Rong Khun. Built by one of the country’s national artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat, the White Temple mirrors one’s journey from hell to heaven, with one-way gates and bridges for visitors to journey through the temple grounds. Wat Rong Khun isn’t like your conventional temple; the interior murals are dotted with paintings of popular culture. Look closely and you’ll find the likes of Michael Jackson, Superman, and even your favourite Despicable Me minions! Indeed, the White Temple is a splendid showcase of one of Thailand’s esteemed artist.
Zipline through a tea plantation
Take an exhilarating zipline across Singha Park and get a panoramic view of the vast Thai tea plantations that extend into the horizon. Singha Park offers four different zipline adventure courses for those up for an exciting thrill ride and a new way of viewing the lush greenery.
Admire majestic murals at the Blue Temple
Stop by the Blue Temple (or Rong Suea Ten) and take in the beauty of this stunning architectural masterpiece. The relatively new temple incorporates Buddhist motifs and imagery in its contemporary mural artwork. As the sun goes down, the mirrors lining the temple’s exterior turns it into a stunning paragon that’s a must-see when you visit Chiang Rai!
Thailand’s biggest Guan Yin statue
Driving along the outskirts of the city, you won’t be able to miss this enormous statue of the Buddhist Goddess of Deity. The Huai Pla Kung Temple is a blend of exquisite Chinese and Thai architecture, and a popular pilgrimage site for local Buddhists. Take a lift up 25 storeys in the statue itself and you’ll have an amazing bird’s eye view of the city literally through the eyes of Guan Yin.
Mae Fah Luang garden
With over a hundred different species of flowers, the Mae Fah Luang Garden is definitely a breathtaking sight to behold. Take a relaxing evening stroll through the 10 acres of gorgeous landscape and you’ll be awestruck by the beauty of the flora and fauna!
Chiang Rai Travel Tips
Rent a Pocket Wifi Device
Having a stable wifi connection is a must when traveling these days. You’ll need it to post on social media, do last minute research, and learn how to say “where is the best bowl of khao soi” in Thai.

We prefer renting pocket wifi devices when we travel but a sim card will be fine as well. Assuming you’ll be going through Bangkok or Chiang Mai before arriving in Chiang Rai, you can either pick up a 4G sim card at Chiang Mai International Airport, or get a 4G sim card (option 1 | option 2) or rent a pocket wifi device in Bangkok.
Check for Discount Passes
There are many online booking platforms that offer travel deals around the world, but when it comes to Asia, my favorite is Klook. Not only is their website the most user-friendly, but they often have the widest selection of activities at the best prices. Follow the link to check out Klook’s list of tours and services in Chiang Rai.
Get Travel Insurance
Whether or not to get travel insurance is a personal choice. For me, it depends on where you’re going and what you’ll be doing. If you’re just going to a country like Hong Kong to traveleat for a few days, then you probably won’t need it as much. But if you’re going to Pakistan to free solo like Alex Honnold, then it may be a good idea to pick up a policy.
When we do feel the need for insurance, we get it from World Nomads or SafetyWing. They’re both leading travel medical insurance providers often used by many long-term travelers. Check out my article on why we buy travel insurance for a description of the two. You can follow the links to get a free quote from World Nomads or SafetyWing.
Bring the Right Power Adapter
Electrical outlets in Thailand typically feature two-pronged round or flat sockets, either Type A, Type B, Type C, or Type F. Be sure to bring the right power adapters for your devices. Electrical voltage is 220V and the standard frequency is 50Hz.
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