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A more low-key alternative to its well-known neighbor, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai offers a cool climate, as well as appealing green valleys, riverbanks and mountains. It is a great launching point for trips into the surrounding wilderness and a wonderful place to discover Northern Thailand’s rich and distinct culture.
Start with a trip to the Hilltribe Museum and Education Center and learn about the region’s various tribes before trekking out to meet them. Treks range from easy walking trails to more challenging excursions into the mountains near the Burmese border. Most treks offer the opportunity to visit local tribes, such as the Karen or Akha, sometimes involving overnight stays in remote villages.
Ride down the Mae Nam Kok River in a traditional longtail boat for views of this region’s thick, unspoiled jungle. You can stop at hot springs, caves, elephant camps or small villages along the length of the river.
Take some time to visit Wat Phra Kaew, which was once home to Bangkok’s famous Emerald Buddha. According to legend, the green jasper Buddha appeared after this tranquil temple’s chedi was hit by lightning in 15th century. The Buddha is now housed in Bangkok, but you can see a replica.
Don’t miss Wat Rong Khun, an unusual contemporary Buddhist temple. The building is undergoing renovation after earthquake damage in 2014 and is not open to visitors at certain times. However, it is still worth going to see the exterior of this striking, all-white temple.
Chiang Rai Beach is a relaxing spot for a picnic or a stroll along the sandy shoreline. In the evening, make your way to the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar for shopping and dining. Try northern Thai dishes or local specialties such as fried insects.
Catch a daily connection from Bangkok to Chiang Rai Airport, which is located around 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of the city. Alternatively, nearby Chiang Mai Airport serves international carriers and connects to Chiang Rai by bus.
Situated in Chiang Rai, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Chiang Rai Clock Tower and Wat Pra Singh. Wat Phra Kaew is 0.8 mi (1.3 km) away.
Located in the heart of Chiang Rai, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Hilltribe Museum & Education Center and Wat Pra Singh. Wat Phra Kaew is 0.7 mi (1.1 km) away.
Situated in Chiang Rai, this hotel is within 6 mi (10 km) of Oub Kham Museum, Wat Rong Khun, and Wat Phra Kaew. Wat Pra Singh and Central Plaza Chiangrai are also within 6 mi (10 km).
Located in the heart of Chiang Rai, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Chiang Rai Clock Tower and Wat Pra Singh. Wat Phra Kaew is 0.5 mi (0.8 km) away.
Located in the heart of Chiang Rai, this resort is within 1 mi (2 km) of Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Kaew, and Wat Pra Singh. Wat Chetawan Temple and Wat Jet Yot are also within 15 minutes.
Located in Huai Khrai, this hotel is 4.8 mi (7.8 km) from Mae Fa Luang Botanical Garden and 5 mi (8 km) from Doi Tung Royal Villa. Mae Sai Temple and Wat Phra That Doi Wao are also within 16 mi (25 km).
This family-friendly Chiang Rai resort is within 2 mi (3 km) of Khun Korn Waterfall, Hilltribe Museum & Education Center, and Hill Tribe Museum. Wat Pra Singh and Wat Phra Kaew are also within 3 mi (5 km).