Founded by the Lao–Thai Lanna kingdom in 1262, Chiang Rai offers a fascinating glimpse at ancient Thailand. The pint-sized city is laid-back, with a string of characterful temples, colourful street markets and cultural museums to explore. Whether you want to discover the city or embark on a hilltribe trek, Chiang Rai is a fantastic base for your time in northern Thailand.
Things to do in Chiang Rai
Surrounded by a lush bamboo forest, Wat Phra Kaew is the city’s most-revered Buddhist temple. Visitors can admire the wooden prayer hall, gaze up at the 14th-century octagonal chedi and wander around the mini-museum housing a handful of Lanna artefacts.
Love local culture? Don’t miss the Hilltribe Museum & Education Centre. It’s run by the non-profit Population & Community Development Association and showcases a wealth of information on the various tribes that inhabit the region.
Held every Saturday evening, Chiang Rai’s famous Walking Street is a hive of activity. From hilltribe handicrafts to tantalising street food, the open-air street market is a favourite with locals and visitors alike.
The province of Chiang Rai is famous for its coffee, which means sipping your way through the city’s cafes can give you an insight into the local culture. With beans sold across the globe, Doi Chaang is Chiang Rai’s most iconic brand. Its flagship cafe is a great place to enjoy a latte.
Getting around Chiang Rai
Thanks to its compact size, central Chiang Rai is easy to navigate on foot. If you don’t want to walk, tuk-tuks can also whisk you across the city. Chiang Rai International Airport sits around eight kilometres north of the city and offers multiple daily flights to Bangkok.