Chiang Rai holidays provide the perfect blend of northern Thai culture and scenery. Visit Chiang Rai’s unique temples, hike to hill tribe villages and visit the Golden Triangle where the three countries of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar converge.
Chiang Rai boasts a laid-back charm, with its location in the far north of Thailand on the Kok River, two hours from busy Chiang Mai. The town was founded in 1262, when it served as the capital of the Mengrai dynasty. It’s filled with ornate Thai buildings, Lanna art and temples like Wat Phra Kaew, which was once home to the sacred Emerald Buddha statue. Other Chiang Rai highlights include the clock tower, and the vibrant night bazaar, which sells handicrafts and street food. Head north to visit the famous Golden Triangle, where the Mekong River and Ruak River separate Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.
Visit Chiang Rai for temples, hill tribes and nature
Don’t miss Chiang Rai’s quirky temples, which are artworks in themselves. The famous Wat Rong Khun, or White Temple, has a snow-white design to symbolise the purity of Lord Buddha, complete with mirrored mosaics. Designed by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the temple is famed for its abstract statues and fiery murals featuring Superman and Harry Potter. Compare this with the stunning Wat Rong Seur Ten, or Blue Temple, completed in 2016, and the eerie Black House, an art project on the outskirts of town. For natural wonders, explore Chiang Rai’s nearby river beach, caves, hot springs and waterfalls - the best is 70 metre tall Khun Korn.
Take an organised hike into Chiang Rai’s surrounding forests to the Burmese border, where you’ll find villages belonging to the area’s ethnic minority groups. These include the Hmong and Akha people, as well as the Karen women, who elongate their necks with brass rings. Stay at the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort, which has an onsite elephant conservation centre, spa, pool and is set in the jungle.
Want to see more of Thailand? Our Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai multi-centre tour takes in all three cities. offering jungle treks and trips to sparkling temples, the Grand Palace and sprawling markets.
Great sample itineraries
Discover Thailand with our collection of tailored tours. Enjoy the buzzing capital Bangkok, elephant sanctuaries, white-sand beaches in Phuket and Khao Lak, as well as northern cultural hotspots like Chiang Rai.
Our favorite hotels
Browse our selection of luxury Chiang Rai hotels, which provide a variety of board options. Opulent facilities include river views, traditional Thai spas, restaurants, pools and elegant five-star suites
Explore Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai has so much on offer and it's extremely easy to navigate your way around. It's small and intimate feel makes it feel more relaxed than other Thai resorts and you'll soon find yourself adjusting to the pace of life here.
Chiang Rai's Hill Tribes
Chiang Rai is considered one of the best places in Asia to have an authentic and ethical hill tribe interaction.
Thailand is full of nature and offers fantastic opportunities to get up close to wildlife
Best time to visit Chiang Rai
Thailand has a tropical year round climate, with temperatures exceeding 30°C in the hottest months from March to May. The rainy season varies across the country, but generally falls from May to October, when monthly rainfall levels can average up to 350mm. In Chiang Rai, the best time to visit is between November and February, when it’s relatively dry and temperatures are slightly cooler, ranging from 28°C to 31°C.
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“Try and visit a local hill tribe from Chiang Rai if time allows. The interaction with villagers is extremely eye-opening and gives you the rare chance to see how locals live their life in a personal and authentic way.”
“Ensure you always have a scarf or sarong with you in Chiang Rai in case you stumble across a temple. To be respectful, ensure your legs, arms and shoulders are covered when entering temples across Thailand.”
Events & Festivals
Festivals and events are wonderful to include during your Chiang Rai holiday, offering a glimpse into the country’s authentic culture and traditions.
Songkran is Thailand’s most famous festival - a Buddhist event that marks the Thai New Year. The festival dates were originally determined by the Thai lunar calendar but are now set from 13th to 15th April. Celebrations take place all over the country and involve pouring water and smearing white talcum paste over people to symbolise cleansing and renewal. Visit temples in Chiang Rai to see monks praying, watch a parade through town and join in festivities like street fairs, music and beauty pageants.
Loi Krathong, the iconic festival of light, is celebrated across Thailand and falls in November, according to the lunar calendar. During Loi Krathong, the streets of Chiang Rai are lit with beautiful lanterns. After dusk you’ll find krathongs, natural baskets filled with candles, are released into the river. This gives thanks to Lord Buddha and symbolises letting go of negative thoughts. You can also enjoy processions, firework displays, food and concerts during Loi Krathong.
Get a flavour of the local culture through your palate during your Chiang Rai holiday.
Chiang Rai Night Market
Try delicious authentic Thai food at the Saturday Night Market in Chiang Rai or at the daily Night Bazaar. Snack on everything from curries and satays to pad Thai, hot pot, clams, papaya salad and spring rolls. Try a bowl of Khao Soi, a northern Thai, coconut-based curry topped with crispy egg noodles. These night markets also have plenty of stalls selling handicrafts, souvenirs and clothing.
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