Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is not to be confused with Chiang Mai. These cities are located about three hours from each other. A one day visit from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is definitely something you should do, but be aware that it is quite tiring. Staying too long in Chiang Rai is not necessary either. If you can choose yourself, two days is more than enough to explore the city.
This city is part of the golden triangle (Thailand - Myanmar - Laos) and it borders near some no mans land. From Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai you can take a boat tour that brings you to Laos, but honestly, this really isn't necessary. If it's included in your tour, why not... But go to Chiang Rai for just this is absolutely not necessary.
In Chiang Rai you can find some of the most beautiful temples in the northern regions of Thailand. Besides the temples, there also are a lot of cultural, historical and natural phenomenons that are worth checking out.

Prachtige natuur in Chiang Rai.

Beautiful nature in Chiang Rai.

  Average costs

Stay – There aren’t that many hostels in or around Chiang Rai. Because of the small competition the prices are pretty expensive for Thailand. A bed in a dorm will cost you between 200 and 350 Thai Baht at least (€5 to €9 or $5,5 to $10).
For a standard budgetroom expect to pay between 400 and 800 THB (€10 to €20,5 or $11 to $22). A luxurious houtel is not that much more expensive. For only 500 THB you can rent a luxurious hotel or ressort if you’re a bit lucky.
A complete list of accommodation and prices can be found here.

Eat  Very similar with Chiang Mai. The cheapest food that you’ll find will cost between 30 and 100 THB. In a restaurant, prices for local food will be around 200 THB.

Transport – Tuktuk’s, taxi’s and scooters are well represented in Chiang Rai. On average, scooters are cheapest, followed by tuktuk’s and taxi’s. For a short ride you’ll be charged between 50 and 200 THB.

Onderdeel van de witte tempel in Chiang Rai.

Part of the white temple of Chiang Rai.

   Saving money

Book a day tour from Chiang Mai  Chiang Rai is quite nice to be and to visit. However, there is not that much to see. So it is better to just stay very short… Or you can just do a one day trip. In one day, you definitely can see the highlights of Chiang Rai. From Chiang Mai there are a couple of tour operators who arrange daily tours to their city neighbour. An early departure (around 8 AM) is necessary. Prepare for a long day, because you only will be home around 8-9 PM. A single ride from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai already takes about three hours. Luckily the day planning is good, so that you make certain stops at interesting spots while driving to Chiang Rai.

By arranging a day tour you don’t need to find accommodation or food. Which saves you some more money.

Haggle – Like everywhere in Thailand. Always haggle. Sometimes you can even get half of if you show some perseverance.  Je kan vaak tot de helft van de prijs krijgen als je een beetje doorzet. Besides, lots of stores even have the same items for sale. If you look out a little, you’ll definitely get your reduction. Stores with fixed prices or restaurants are non-negotiable.

Een jong meisje van de Long Neck Tribe.

A young girl from the Long Neck Tribe.


Wat Rong Khun  Or the famous white temple. I personally thought this was one of the nicer temples in Thailand. A giant temple with beautiful scenes, completely in white and probably some silver looking mirrors. The toilet is completely made in the same style but in a golden colour! Impressive!

Chiang Rai Night Market Visiting the markets in Chiang Rai is always fun. Especially when you can do some more during the evening / night. From 6 PM to 2 AM local tribes sell their home made products on this market, centrally located in Chiang Rai.

Visit ethnical tribes – In the area of chiang Rai, there live quite some ethnic tribes, like the Karen Long Neck Tribe and the Hilltribe. Go take a look to see how these people live and how, even today, they still are attached to their century old culture and traditions.

Natuurlijke warmtebronnen rond Chiang Rai.

Natural hot spring around Chiang Rai.


Boat tour on the Golden Triangle – It may sound like a lot of fun; a boat tour on the Mekong River that passes the three countries (Thailand, Myanmar and Laos) and connects them with each other. But honestly… It’s really boring. You just sit in a little boat on a very polluted river and (depending on the tour company) you can get off at Laos for a little while. Don’t think this is exciting though: you get dropped of in a small touristic spot of no man’s land where pushy sales people try to sell souvenirs and other stuff.
You can perfectly see the Golden Triangle from the quay where boats depart.

Drugs – Chiang Rai used to be an important city in connection with the opium plantations around Thailand. A remainder of this past might come up to you and ask if you want to buy some drugs. Just walk away and say no.

Witte Tempel in Chiang Rai.

Wat Rong Khun or the white temple in Chiang Rai.

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