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What to do in Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai is Thailand’s northernmost province and borders Laos to the east and Myanmar to the west. The province is steeped in natural beauty and has a rich history of traditional Lanna culture, which it still retains to this day.
Chiang Rai was thrown into the media spotlight in 2018, when twelve members of a junior football team and their coach became trapped inside the Tham Luang Cave network.
Their dramatic rescue after 18 days captivated the world and put Chiang Rai on the front page of every news outlet in the world.
Today the Tham Luang Cave network is itself a tourist attraction but Chiang Rai’s famous White Temple remains the province’s tourism centrepiece.
The province is also home to national parks, with spectacular flora and fauna, breathtaking views and multiple opportunities for outdoor activities such as jungle trekking and camping.
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Things to do:
1. Wat Rong Khun (White Temple)
The most famous and most visited attraction in Chiang Rai is Wat Rong Khun, or more commonly known as the White Temple. Designed by famous artist Chaloemchai Kositpipat, the pure white temple was carved and constructed to painstaking detail. It is a spectacular sight and like nothing else in all of Thailand. After visiting the White Temple, visitors to Chiang Rai should also see Wat Huai Pla Kang, Wat Klang Wiang and Wat Rong Suea Ten (Blue Temple) all of which are known for their striking architecture and decoration.
Wat Rong Khun
2. Singha Park
Covering an area of more than 900,000 sqm, Singha Park comprises of tea plantations, flower gardens and various activities such rock climbing, ziplining and an adventure rope course. Hire a bicycle and cycle around the huge gardens. https://singhapark.com/
3. Tham Luang Cave
In 2019, the Tham Luang Cave network officially opened as a tourist attraction giving people the opportunity to see the entrance to the cave where 12 junior football players and their coach were dramatically rescued. The park in Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai, allows tourists to enter the first chamber of the cave and three sections from where the rescue took place. More info: https://www.tourismthailand.org/Attraction/tham-luang-khn-nam-nang-non-forest-park
4. Choui Fong Tea Plantation
Chiang Rai is Thailand’s tea country and the Choui Fong Tea Plantation is the most easily accessible tea plantation in the province. Spread over 1,000 rai, sample a selection of award winning teas and learn about the tea making process.
And if tea isn’t your thing, fear not as the plantation is set amongst spectacular scenery that you won’t want to miss. If you want even more tea and more mountain views, head to Doi Mae Salong in northern Chiang Rai close to the border with Myanmar.
5. Phu Chi Fah
Quite possibly one of the most beautiful places in all of Thailand, people travel to Phu Chi Fah viewpoint to witness the spectacular sunrise above a sea of clouds. It’s best to arrive the day before and either camp or stay locally and get to the summit before 5am to catch the sunrise. More info: https://www.tourismthailand.org/Attraction/phu-chi-fa-forest-park
6. Visit a hot spring
A relaxing way to spend an afternoon, the Pong Phra Baht Hot Spring is located just 7km from Chaing Rai city centre. Rent a room and enjoy a dip in the hot spring. If you’re a little more adventurous, head to Huay Mak Liem and Pha Serd Hot Springs, about 20km from the city centre where it is claimed the water is hot enough to boil an egg!
7. Visit a waterfall
There are numerous waterfalls located within the national parks in Chiang Rai. The tallest and most spectacular is Khun Korn Waterfall. To get to the waterfall, you will need to hike for about 45 minutes. Huai Kaew Waterfall (Namtok Huai Kaew) is also worth visiting and is located about 6kms from the Huay Mak Liem hot springs.
8. Mae Fah Luang Art & Cultural Park
Learn about Chiang Rai’s history and cultural heritage at the Mae Fah Luang Art & Cultural Park. Set among landscaped gardens, the park consists of several teak structures in traditional Lanna style. The museum will give you a fascinating insight into the 400 year old history of the Lanna Kingdom.
Local Reference Websites for Chiang Rai: