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Chiang Rai

Known as one of the hidden gems of Thailand, Chiang Rai is the northernmost province of the country and home to a little over one million inhabitants. Chiang Rai is a quiet, simple town with beautiful green trees and natural scenery. It is the gateway to the Daen Lao Mountain Range and the borders of Myanmar and Laos, also known as the Golden Triangle where all three countries meet. The area is home to pristine mountain villages, the beautiful Mekong River, as well as the world-famous White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) and Black Temple (Baan Dam).

Here are five reasons you should visit Chiang Rai on your next trip to Thailand…

The White Temple / Wat Rong Khun

You can’t visit Chiang Rai without discovering the most famous tourist attraction of the city: the White Temple, also named Wat Rong Khun. Located 13 km south of Chiang Rai, it’s one of the most famous place to visit in Northern Thailand. You will see it on almost all postcards!

If you’re there on a sunny day, you will notice that the White Temple sparkles in the sun: this particularity is due to the mixture of lime and mirror shards the temple has been built with. During your visit, you will also be able to admire impressive statues and beautiful details sculpted and covered with mirrors. Inside the White Temple, you will find a Buddha statue, but the most impressive is the fresco mixing traditional Buddhist scenes with scenes from famous movies like Matrix or Star Wars.



The Blue Temple / Wat Rong Suea Ten

After the White Temple, let’s now discover the Blue Temple, probably the 2nd most popular tourist attraction in Chiang Rai. This temple is also located outside the city, but to the north this time, on the other side of the Mae Kok River.  Just like the White Temple, the Blue Temple, or Wat Rong Suea Ten in Thai, has only recently been completed.

Inside, you can find a large white sitting Buddha statue, tinted with blue reflections depending on the lighting. Outside, you will also find many blue statues with impressive details, such as the dragons or guards located at the entrance.

After the white temple, this is really the place to see in Chiang Rai. The temple is beautiful and the entrance is free.



Watch the sea of mist at Phu Chi Fa

About a two drive away from Chiang Mai lies the most spectacular panoramic view in all of Thailand. Although “Phu Chi Fa” refers to the mountainous region in this area, the name has become synonymous with a massive, 1628 meter-tall cliff that overlooks the surrounding mountains and hills. Possibly the most famous of all tourist attractions within the Thai highlands, Phu Chi Fa is visited by thousands of tourists throughout the year who hope to experience the breathtaking cliff-top vista. The view is perhaps most famous for its stunning sunrises, in which the peaks of nearby mountains and hills pierce through the blanket of low-lying fog as the sun rises over Laos in the east.


Once the sun has come down and you’ve had your fill of temples, then it’s time to head over to the Night Bazaar for some late-night shopping and eating. Chiang Rai’s Night Bazaar is a small outdoor market offering the usual goods like hill tribe jewelry, elephant pants, and silk scarves, but what we enjoyed most about it was the food. More on that in the next section of this guide.

Chiang Rai Old City isn’t only about temples. For shoppers, Chiang Rai Night Bazaar is unmissable. Browse through its large selection of local handicrafts, try street food and enjoy the cultural performances. If you come on Saturday, there’s a Chiang Rai Walking Street in the evening with great food and souvenirs. You’re welcome to join the locals for Thai dancing experience.

Chiang Rai is arguably the best tea country in Thailand.  Choui Fong Tea Plantation is the most easily accessible tea plantation among them and green tea lovers will regret not going there. Drinking tea aside, be sure you try their green tea desserts like cakes and rolls. But if you’re looking for a mountain experience and more tea variety, Doi Mae Salong has great tea plantations and you can taste the award-winning oolong tea while supporting local hill tribes at 101 Tea Plantation.

Because of its northern location and higher altitude, Chiang Mai is a fairly pleasant city to visit in comparison to some of the other cities in Thailand. The northern capital is (for the most part) pleasant to visit all year round, though the best time to go is during the dry or cool season.