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Facets Of Thailand: 3-Day Chiang Mai and 4-day Chiang Rai Itinerary - Updated 2019

Megan
Updated Mar 26, 2019

There’s no doubt that Bangkok holds the reins of tourism in Thailand, but while the bustling metropolis is undeniably great for its shopping and food, places like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai bring you across these luxuries and into the undiluted warmth and grace of Thailand and its people. The two neighbouring cities are only a 2-hour drive from each other, conveniencing travellers who are keen to explore these lesser known destinations of Thailand.


This 3-day Chiang Mai and 4-day Chiang Rai itineraries are recommended for the traveller who is ready to experience travel in the most humbling, genuine and generous way possible. But if you are not entirely convinced, look through anyway and see what you are missing out – and make an effort to change that.

3-DAY CHIANG MAI ITINERARY

DAY 1

MAIIM Contemporary Art Museum

If you have a vested interest in contemporary art and looking to engage in Thailand’s dialogue of history and culture, a visit to the MAIIM Contemporary Art Museum will be well worth your time. Sophisticated in style and housing an array of curations, the museum pays homage to the country’s renowned Thai Contemporary Artists while also recognising budding creators. From its permanent exhibition to its host of temporary ones, MAIIM Contemporary Art Museum is an enjoyable collective space that flourishes with its diversity and mirroring of Thailand’s landscape.

MAIIM Contemporary Art Museum

Address: 122, Moo 7 Tonpao Amphoe San Kamphaeng, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50130, Thailand

Website: MAIIM Contemporary Art Museum

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Art in Paradise Chiangmai

With more than 130 paintings divided into six thematic zones, the only thing you need to prepare for a visit to Art in Paradise Chiangmai is a camera with enough memory. Established as the first illusion art museum in Chiang Mai, Art in Paradise definitely earns a coveted spot as a top tourist attraction with its fun and interactive art pieces. From a “sawadee ka” greeting by an animated Mona Lisa to the chuckle worthy set-ups, be innovative in your poses and release your childlike imagination here.

Art in Paradise Chiangmai

Address: 199/9 Chang Klan Rd, Tambon Chang Khlan, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Website: Art in Paradise Chiangmai

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Baan Kang Wat






A circumference of shop houses around an open amphitheatre, each selling local handmade products makes up the quirky art village of Chiang Mai. Grounded in community-based tourism but refreshing in its outdoor lifestyle mall concept, Baan Kang Wat makes for the perfect stopover for anyone. Be it trying different concoctions of tea and coffee at the café, choosing souvenirs from the handmade ceramics shop in the corner, visiting the colourful bookshop or attending a Yoga class, Baan Kang Wat is saturated with a flurry of things to do. Even if you are a fan of simpler joys, its hutted shelters and plentiful of swings is the perfect nook for an afternoon ice cream.

Baan Kang Wat

Address: 1 123/1 หมู่ 5 Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Facebook page: Baan Kang Wat

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DAY 2

Maesa Elephant Camp

Rarely offering elephant shows and riding opportunities, Maesa Elephant Camp prides itself in its commitment to providing attention and care for its retired elephants. While old in age and slower in movements, the elephants still exude an innocent playfulness especially when it comes to banana-feeding. Visitors can experience feeding the tame elephants, making their food and bathing them in the river. Elephant shows may be more entertaining than a retirement elephant camp, but a visit to the Maesa Elephant Camp where you give back to the hardworking elephants makes for an incredibly meaningful trip.

Maesa Elephant Camp

Address: Tapae Road, 119/9 1096 Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Website: Maesa Elephant Camp

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Wat Srisuphan

The biggest silver temple in the world, Wat Srisuphan is lacquered with handcrafted silver carvings and resplendent in its intricate details. Originally built around 1500 to serve as the main temple for a silversmith village, Wat Srisuphan holds onto its roots as a sacred place for prayer and continues to be respected by locals and tourists alike. While women are prohibited from entering the temple, Wat Srisuphan’s grounds have plentiful spaces to explore - you can even find silversmith working at the back of the temple.

Wat Srisuphan

Address: 100 Wua Lai Rd, Tambon Hai Ya, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

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Songthaew food tour

Arguably one of the best experiences in Chiang Mai, a Songthaew food tour is crucial to immerse yourself in the flavours of Thailand. Give the restaurants a miss this time, ride a Songthaew, visit Chiang Mai’s night markets, sit among locals and eat like how the locals do. Highly recommended for the adventurous foodie are menus of Pad Thai, Khao Soi and Bua Loi. But if you prefer to start with more familiar food, there are also the likes of barbequed chicken satays, pork stew, omelettes… Who says meals need to be expensive for such decadent fare?

Songthaew food tour

Website:

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DAY 3

Wat Umong

Nicknamed as the forest temple in Chiang Mai, Wat Umong is a 700-year-old Buddhist Temple revered for its architecture and history. Shaded by pavilions of trees with tunnels draped in lush greenery, the temple exudes a serenity among the peaceful forest. Located at the foot of Doi Pui Mountain, the temple grounds of Wat Umong give you much to explore from its old ruins to its stupas – even feeding the fish at its own small lake exchanges tranquility.

Wat Umong

Address: Su Thep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

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Wiang Kum Kam

Previously submerged by the river waters, Wiang Kum Kam now stands alongside the Ping River with its archaeological sites scattered across the suburbs of Chiang Mai. An ancient city with roots from the eighth-century Haripunchai Kingdom, Wiang Kum Kam has an ornate history as the former capital of the then Lanna Kingdom until it was replaced by Chiang Mai in 1296. Since efforts to unearth these archaeological gems, Wiang Kum Kam now features an expanse of sites that host Buddhist sculptures to stone tablets with Mon inscriptions.

Wiang Kum Kam

Address: Tha Wang Tan, Saraphi District, Chiang Mai 50140, Thailand

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Wat Phrathat Doi Kham


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Nothing spells majestic quite like seeing a 17-metres high Buddha statue atop a mountain. Built in the 7th century, Wat Phrathat Doi Kham is a temple nestled on top of Doi Kham hill, lending itself the moniker of golden mountain temple. Steeped against the mountainous landscapes but humbly entrancing with its quiet grandeur of history and architecture, Wat Phrathat Doi Kham makes for an absolute visit. Be it visiting the chedi that enshrines a sacred relic of the Buddha – constructed in the year 687 making for the oldest structure of the temple – or admiring the views of the city from the temple, there’s nothing quite enticing like it.

Wat Phrathat Doi Kham

Address: Mu Ban Chiang Mai Lake Land Rd, Tambon Su Thep, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

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4-DAY CHIANG RAI ITINERARY

DAY 1

Singha Park

A place rich with flora and fauna as well as an abundance of things to do, Singha Park brings agro-tourism to new heights of enjoyment. Developed with sustainable tourism in mind, the park does not short-change on its views or fun. Complete with options from zip-lining through tea plantations to taking a tour around vast fields of blooming flowers and neighbouring mountains, a visit to Singha Park makes for one of the most scenic and wondrous experiences.

Singha Park

Address: Mae Kon, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Website: Singha Park

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Wat Huai Pla Kung Temple Chiang Rai

Home to the tallest Guan Yin statue in Thailand, the newly built temple Wat Huai Pla Kung has already made it into the list of temples to visit in Chiang Rai for many. Take a convenient lift on a trolley van atop the hill to stand beneath the towering Guan Yin statue and take in the views of the scenic city. With the temples roofs and rims of the pagodas jewelled with lights that illuminate the structures at night, Wat Huai Pla Kung is definitely a temple worthy of all its adulation.

Wat Huai Pla Kung Temple Chiang Rai

Address: 553 Moo 3, Rimkok Subdistrict, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand

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DAY 2

Akha Mudhouse MaeSalong

A place for travellers for more than 10 years, Akha Mudhouse MaeSalong is esteemed as one of the most authentic and reliable homestay experiences. With some 80,000 Akha residing in Thailand, a visit to the Akha Mudhouse MaeSalong is one that brings you closer to the indigenous hill tribe that live in the mountains. Take a walk around the village and sample on some sweet fruit or harvest some fresh greens for lunch afterwards. The owner converses comfortably in English and exudes generosity – promising you ease and comfort throughout your stay.

Akha Mudhouse MaeSalong

Address: Mae Salong Nok, Mae Fa Luang District, Chiang Rai 57110, Thailand (see map)

Website:

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Chiang Saen Bicycle Tour

Go on a bicycle tour around Chiang Rai and discover neighbourhood gems in the smaller district of Chiang Saen. The warm and enthusiastic bike leaders bring you on a journey through the city’s attractions while ensuring you have the best comfort levels – think fresh mangoes, pineapples and chilled drinks by the roadside when you tire for a break. Cycle past plantations, lakes and temples and make a stop at The Golden Triangle. An attraction once famed for its opium trade but now venerated for its history. Also get to see Laos, Myanmar and Thailand all at once, only bordered by the steady stream of the Mekong River.

Chiang Saen Bicycle Tour

Website:

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DAY 3

Mae Fah Luang Garden of Doi Tung

The Mae Fah Luang Garden is loved as one of the best mountain gardens in the world. Landscaped with hundreds of species of plants and flowers, the garden flourishes with the blooming beauty of flora perfect for a stroll. If you’re feeling adventurous, try their popular tree top walk towering 30 metres above the ground and stretching across 300 metres. However, the attractions do not just end with this garden for the neighbouring Doi Tong Royal Villa, the former residence of Her late Her late Royal Highness Princess Srinakarindra makes for an equally delightful visit with its showcase of information and depth of history.

Mae Fah Luang Garden of Doi Tung

Address: Doi Tung Development Project, Mae Fa Luang 57240, Thailand

Website: Mae Fah Luang Garden of Doi Tung

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Choui Fong tea plantation

With a plantation size of over 1,000 rais in the high mountains, Choui Fong Tea is the largest tea producer in Thailand. Coveted as one of the highest quality traditional teas produced locally, Choui Fong Tea harvests, processes, and blends its teas with such care and detail that it successful grows Assum, Green, Oolong and Black Tea to the likes of many. Come here to shop for Choui Fong’s tea to share with the ones at home or enjoy one of their beverages in their café which overlooks the scenic plantations.

Choui Fong tea plantation

Address: หมู่ 10 ซอย 9 แม่จัน, Amphoe Mae Chan, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57110, Thailand

Website: Choui Fong tea plantation

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DAY 4

“Rong Suea Ten”, the Blue Temple, Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is most commonly associated with the White Temple but did you know a Blue Temple also exists? Its nickname, “the Blue Temple” is an instant giveaway for Rong Suea Ten is immediately recognisable for its distinct hues of blue. Spanning an area of 6 acres, the temple grounds are immaculate and the interior a kaleidoscope of mural paintings. The prayer hall and the Buddha statues are all bathed in blue – a colour symbolic for Dharma, the Lord Buddha virtue code of moral.

“Rong Suea Ten”, the Blue Temple, Chiang Rai

Address: Rim Kok Subdistrict, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand

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Wat Rong Khun, White Temple

Arguably Chiang Rai’s most renowned temple, Wat Rong Khun or White Temple is not revered for no good reason. Designed and constructed by Chalermchai Kositpipat, a Thai visual artist, the temple doubles as an art exhibit with its wall murals of modern superheroes and elaborate paintings. An integration of contemporary art with a temple frees Chalermchai Kositpipat’s to do illustrations of minions in the temple or construct statues of power rangers on the temple grounds. A little strange sounding but you have to see it to believe it.

Wat Rong Khun, White Temple

Address: Rim Kok Subdistrict, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand

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Warm from the inside

Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai both have their different charms but a visit to each will reveal that they emit the same zeal for their country, share a brotherhood for their people and carry the same outward open arms for travellers. Relax into Thailand and fall in love with Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai.

This article was originally published on Aug 14, 2017

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Megan is an ardent writer, eater and sleeper. Studying communication studies at Nanyang Technological University, she is rewarded with learning every day in school and at work. She believes...Read more

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