Top 30 Things To Do In Mueang Chiang Rai, Thailand - Updated 2021

things to do in chiang rai

When people hear “Thailand”, what probably immediately comes to mind is Bangkok, its capital city. While it does offer more than its own share of attractions and activities, there is more to the country than what you can see at its center. A case in point is Mueang Chiang Rai, the capital district of the northernmost province of Thailand. Established in 1262 by King Meng Rai, it provides a quieter alternative that is nonetheless replete with historical and natural attractions. Setting up base here also allows you easy access to the other sights located in Chiang Rai province. What’s more, it’s just a three-hour drive from Chiang Mai, which makes it easy to reach for those planning to travel to another popular tourist attraction in the country. Check out this list for the top things to do in Mueang Chiang Rai, Thailand.

1. Explore Oub Kham Museum and check out the royal artifacts (from USD 161.0)

Oub Kham Museum takes visitors back in time to the ancient Lanna kingdom. Besides featuring relics from this era and region, it also showcases artifacts from the neighboring countries such as Myanmar, Laos, and China. There are also a number of artworks on display here. There is an entrance fee, but it is already inclusive of the services of a tour guide who will give you more information about the exhibits on display. If you want to veer away from the crowded tourist spots yet you also want to learn more about the rich history of North Thailand, this is the destination for you.

Chiang Rai Private Tour: Oup Kham Museum, White Temple & More

Duration: 9 hours

2 reviews

2. Pay a visit to the historic temple of Wat Rong Khun (from USD 101.0)

Wat Rong Khun, otherwise known as the White Temple, is undoubtedly the most distinctive landmark in Chiang Rai. Its color is said to have been specifically chosen to represent the purity of Buddha. The temple complex is the personal project of visual artist Chalermchai Kositpipat and it is full of Buddhist symbolism. The construction started in 1997, but its nine structures are not expected to be fully constructed until 2070.

White Temple, Longneck and Doi Tung Palace

Duration: 6 hours

3. Take photos in front of Wat Phra Singh temple (from USD 97.0)

things to do in chiang rai | take photos in front of wat phra singh temple

Wat Phra Singh, or the Temple of the Lion Buddha, is named after the Buddha statue it houses. Whether this temple is the actual Lion Buddha is actually contentious, because there are two other Buddhas in Thailand (one in the Bangkok National Museum and another in Nakhon Si Thammarat) that also claim to be the Lion Buddha. Regardless of this, the temple remains as one of the most popular - and attractive - in Chiang Rai. Its gilded rooftops and golden chedis make for good photographs.

Half-Day Temples and City Private Tour of Chiang Rai

Duration: 4 hours

4. Enjoy a biking tour to explore the beautiful countryside of Chiang Rai (from USD 62.0)

Chiang Rai’s countryside is beautiful, and with this tour, you can explore the area on two wheels. The guide will take you to enjoy a scenic ride and see sights such as rice fields, small farms, and rubber plantations. You will also be dropping by the White Temple, the Big Buddha, a market, and a tea plantation. Be aware that this is a whole-day activity, so you need to be in good physical shape to join this tour.

Full Day Cycling Amazing Chiangrai countryside and the White temple

Duration: 8 to 9 hours

5. Take your children to the petting zoo in the scenic Singha Park (from USD 101.0)

If you’re traveling with your kids, drop by Singha Park to let them bond with the animals at the petting zoo, which has cows, zebras, and giraffes. While you’re there, you can also explore the different attractions in the park, which include a small pond, a tea plantation, and a cafe. The park is quite spacious, but there’s a shuttle that you can get on for a small fee to take you around. Alternatively, you can rent bikes so you can have a more leisurely way of exploring the area.

Doi Tung Palace and Singha Park

Duration: 7 hours

6. Immerse yourself in the culture of Chiang Rai's local hill tribes (from USD 106.0)

Take the road less traveled by visiting the hill tribes of Chiang Rai, most known for their unique and colorful fabrics. This tour is inclusive of the services of a guide who will also serve as your translator in your conversations with the local representatives. Do note that this activity includes walking on unpaved roads and paths, so this is not recommended for those who have mobility issues. Make sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

A World of Many Cultures

Duration: 8 hours

7. Visit the Long Neck village (from USD 101.0)

The Karen tribe is one of the hillside tribes of Chiang Rai. Their women are eye-catching because of the distinctive brass rings they wear around their necks, worn as accessories, and which give them the nickname “Long Neck”. The local crafts, including their handwoven fabrics, are sold in the village if you want to take home some souvenirs.

1 Day Trip White Temple - Tea Plantation - Longneck - Cruise to Laos Market

Duration: 9 hours

8. Visit the monkeys at the famous Tham Pla Cave

Tham Pla can be translated to “fishtail”, a name that is certainly understandable given that a number of fishes have made the cave their home. Visitors, however, should not be wary of these scaly creatures, but of the primates monkeying around the area. The macaques in the area can be fed (there are fruit vendors outside selling produce). Be warned though, because the monkeys can get very aggressive.

Tham Pla Cave

Address: Pong Ngam, Mae Sai District, Chiang Rai 57130, Thailand

Opening hours: 8am - 6pm (daily)

Price: 3 USD

9. Feast on Thai treats at the Chiang Rai night markets

Thailand is known for its night markets, and Chiang Rai certainly holds up on this front. Street food is aplenty, ranging from tamer options such as grilled meats and seafood, as well as fruit juices and shakes to help you cool off, to more exotic delicacies such as bugs. You can also get cheap goods here, which range from clothes and handicrafts to toys, as well as souvenirs that you can bring home with you to remind yourself of your Chiang Rai adventure. There are performers who perform traditional Thai dances and music in the markets.

Chiang Rai Night Bazaar

Address: Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Opening hours: 6pm - 11pm (daily)

10. Watch the ornate clock tower light show

Clock tower in Chiang Rai purple
Source: Photo by user Gozitano used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The clock tower is already eye-catching in itself, with its golden form and ornate decor. At nighttime, however, it draws even more attention as it becomes the center of a light show that takes place every hour from 7 pm to 9 pm. The clock tower becomes suffused in a variety of colors, each one more attractive than the last. There are a number of cafes within the vicinity, so you can enjoy a cup of coffee or a light snack while you’re waiting for the light show to begin.

Clock Tower Chiang Rai

Address: Suk Sathit, Tambon Wiang, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Opening hours: Light Show: 7pm, 8pm, 9pm (daily)

11. Visit the Tree Top Adventure Park in Chiang Rai’s Mae Fah Luang Garden

Posted by Tree Top Adventure Park Thailand on Monday, 13 November 2017

If you want your adrenaline to pump while you’re in Chiang Rai, head on over to the Mae Fah Luang Garden, the home of the Tree Top Adventure Park. Here, you will be able to explore the rainforest in the area from up high via narrow hanging bridges. To ensure your safety, you will be made to wear a harness that straps you to the bridge via safety cables. There are seven bridges that you have to cross from beginning to end. Please note that only those who are 12 years old and up are allowed in this attraction.

Tree Top Adventure Park

Address: Mae Fah Luang Garden, Doi Tung Villa, Amphoe Mae Fah Luang, Chiang Rai

Website: Tree Top Adventure Park

Opening hours: 8am - 11am & 1pm - 5pm (daily)

Price: 5 USD

12. Enjoy mountain trekking in Lum Nam Kok National Park

Huai mak liam hot spring
Source: Photo by user Chaiyathat used under CC BY-SA 4.0

If you’re an outdoor lover, be sure to spare some time to explore Lum Nam Kok National Park, which features a number of trails that you can explore. Depending on which path you take, you can actually stumble upon hot springs and waterfalls, including the famous Khun Korn falls. You can also go camping in the park if you wish.

Lum Nam Kok National Park

Address: Lam Nam Kok National Park, Tambon Doi Hang, Amphoe Muang Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai, 57000, Thailand

Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)

Price: Free admission

13. Venture into the natural cave temple of Wat Tham Chiang Dao

วัดถ้ำเชียงดาว Wat Tham Chiang Dao - panoramio
Source: Photo by user Thaweesak Churasri used under CC BY 3.0

The caves of Chiang Dao - and the Buddhist shrines in there - are the area’s most popular attraction. While the caverns run for a number of kilometers, many of these areas are generally not open to the public. The main passageway is already well-lit. For an additional fee, visitors can get the services of a guide who will take them beyond this area and into the hidden paths with only a kerosene lamp as a source of light.

Chiang Dao Cave

Address: 273 หมู่ 5 Tambon Chiang Dao, Amphoe Chiang Dao, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50170, Thailand

Opening hours: 6:45am - 6pm (daily)

Price: 1.30 USD per person for lighted corridors, with additional 3.25 USD (plus tip) for the services of a guide to take you to the unlit areas

14. Swim under the towering Khun Korn Forest Park Waterfall

Khun Korn Forest Park Waterfall, Chiang Rai

Posted by Bat-el Kori on Saturday, 18 November 2017

Considered as one of, if not the best and biggest waterfalls in Chiang Rai, Khung Korn is nestled in a beautiful tropical forest that will provide you with plenty of photography opportunities even before you reach your ultimate goal. Be aware that some trekking is required for you to get to the waterfalls itself, although the path is fairly easy. Swimming is allowed here, but do note that the waterfalls are quite strong and some of the rocks in the water are quite slippery, so caution is advised.

Khun Korn Forest Park Waterfall

Address: Highway 1208 , Mae Kon , 57000 Mueang Chiang Rai , Chiang Rai, Thailand

Opening hours: 8am - 4:30pm (daily)

Price: Free admission

15. Take a relaxing dip in the natural Pong Phra Soet Hot Spring

Some people attest to the idea that soaking in a hot spring can help improve your overall well-being. If you want to give this a try, take a dip in Pong Phra Soet Hot Spring. Towels can be rented on site if you forgot to bring your own, but bathing suits are required for those who want to immerse themselves in the water. There are lockers where you can stash your things while you take a dip. There are private pools on site if you want to soak in private. Otherwise, you can just soak in the public swimming pool. Want to test just how hot the water is? Eggs are sold on site that you can cook by immersing them in the waters for about 15 minutes.

Pong Phra Soet Hot Spring

Address: Moo 6, Pha Soet Phatthana Village | Doi Hang, Chiang Rai 57260, Thailand

Opening hours: 8am - 8pm (closed on Mon & Thu)

Price: 1 USD

16. Visit the late Princess Mother’s home, Doi Tung Royal Villa

Source: Photo by user Elgaard used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Doi Tung Royal Villa once served as the home of the Princess Mother and now it serves as a long-lasting symbol of her compassion for her people. The house features a curious design, resembling a Swiss-style chalet with Lanna architecture. For an additional fee, while you’re here, you can also visit Mae Fah Luang Garden and the Hall of Inspiration.

Doi Tung Royal Villa

Address: Mae Fa Luang, Thailand

Opening hours: 7am - 5:30pm (daily)

Price: 3 USD or 7 USD for entry to Doi Tung Royal Villa, Mae Fah Luang Garden, and the Hall of Inspiration

17. Drink freshly brewed tea at the picturesque Choui Fong Tea Farm

Choui Fong tea plantation
Source: Photo by user Denchai used under CC0

Choui Fong Corporation is the biggest tea producer in Chiang Rai. If you’re a tea enthusiast, you can head over to their tea farm to see for yourself how they make your favorite brew. The scenery is beautiful and gives you a great background for photos. Once you’re done with your tour, head over to one of the cafes on site to try out their tea and some food, including pastries that also have tea as the main ingredient.

Choui Fong Tea Farm

Address: 97 Moo 8, Pasang, Mae Chan, Chiang Rai, Mae Chan 57110, Thailand

Website: Choui Fong Tea Farm

Opening hours: 8:30am - 5:30pm (daily)

Price: No admission fee

18. Pass by the ancient King Mengrai Monument

King Mengrai Statue at night - panoramio
Source: Photo by user lopsura used under CC BY 3.0

King Mengrai was the 25th monarch of the Lawa Dynasty, who founded not just Chiang Rai, but the whole Lanna Kingdom. The residents of the city have paid homage to its founder by setting his monument, which is in the center of a small garden, at the heart of Chiang Rai. Pro tip: there is a free city tour offered that starts in this landmark, so if you want to know more about the city, be sure to check out the tour schedule for the day so you can join it.

King Mengrai Monument

Address: Tambon Wiang, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

19. Hang out with friends at the beautiful Chiang Rai Beach

The beaches in Southern Thailand are renowned globally, so it may seem strange to read that there’s a beach in Chiang Rai. Granted, it’s neither by the sea nor the ocean, as the one in this area is right by the river. Nonetheless, this beach should not be sneered at, because this offers a quiet and relaxing spot for those who want to kick back and spend a leisurely time away from the usual tourist attractions. There are food stalls there where you can grab a bite to eat or some drinks, whether alcoholic or not.

Chiang Rai Beach

Address: Moo 4 | Rop Wiang Subdistrict, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free admission

20. Buy souvenirs at the Saturday Walking Street Market

If you’re going to be spending the weekend in the area and you are planning to get some souvenirs to bring home with you, make sure to set time for the Saturday Walking Street Market, where you will have a variety of handicrafts and knick-knacks to choose from. Make sure to practice your bargaining skills before heading here, because you can haggle with the seller to net even better prices. If you’re a foodie, there’s plenty of street food here if you want to test your palate and try out Northern Thailand’s fare.

Saturday Walking Street Market

Address: Thanalai, Tambon Wiang, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Opening hours: 4pm - 12am (Saturday)

21. Learn to make Thai dishes in the popular Suwannee Thai Cooking Class

Thai cuisine is recognized as one of the best in the world, and the Suwannee Thai Cooking Class is known for being one of, if not the best of its kind. You can take your pick from four packages, each of which offers different meals for you to learn how to prepare, from the selection of the ingredients to the actual cooking. What’s more, you have the freedom to choose whether to prepare the spicy or non-spicy versions of the dishes, and you can even opt for vegetarian options if you wish.

Suwannee Thai Cooking Class

Address: 303 Moo1 Denha-Dongmada Rd, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Website: Suwannee Thai Cooking Class

Opening hours: 9:30am - 2pm (daily). Afternoon and evening classes may be arranged on request.

Price: 40.50 USD

22. Take the chance to feed the elephants in Elephant Valley Thailand

Much has been said about animal cruelty in many of Thailand’s animal-centric attractions. The Elephant Valley is different in that it serves as a sanctuary for elephants in every sense of the word, as the facility is dedicated to conserving and protecting pachyderms. If you want to learn more about these gentle giants, including the steps the facility is taking to rehabilitate the ones they have rescued, book a visit to the Elephant Valley.

Elephant Valley Thailand

Address: 154, moo 15, Pa O, Don Chai, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Website: Elephant Valley

Opening hours: Hours will depend on the package

Price: Starts from 52 USD

23. Try out a traditional Thai massage at Naza Thai Massage

Classical Thai Massage
Source: Photo by user Tara Angkor Hotel used under CC BY 2.0

Unlimber tight muscles by availing a Thai massage, which is characterized by stretching the different parts of your body, from Naza Thai Massage. While you’re at it, pamper yourself further by trying out their foot massage as well, which Thailand is famous for. They also offer other types of massages and body scrubs if you also want to try their other services. Rates are inclusive of tea.

Naza Thai Massage

Address: 649/1 Srikerd Rd, Tambon Wiang, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Opening hours: 10am - 10pm (daily)

Price: Starts from 8 USD

24. Browse through the products at the Daily Municipal Market

Here is where you can find all spices.

Posted by Gail's Thai Kitchen on Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Want to live like a local, even for just a few hours? If so, head over to the Daily Municipal Market and see for yourself where the residents buy what they need, from food items at the wet market and the herbs and spices that make Thai cuisine to household products, clothes, shoes, and even hardware. There’s also ready-to-eat food that you can buy from here if you want to get a snack while browsing the stalls. The Municipal Market is connected to the Walking Street, so you can easily kill time exploring the many alleys in this area.

Daily Municipal Market

Address: Thanalai, Tambon Wiang, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Opening hours: 6am - 9pm (daily)

25. Watch the sunset with cocktails at Dinner Late

The curiously named Dinner Late is a rooftop bar that gives its guests front row seats to enjoy the beautiful Chiang Rai sunset. The place is compact, helping create a cozy vibe. There are plenty of drink options to choose from, ranging from cocktails to beers and wines. For those on a budget, there’s happy hour daily from 5 pm to 8 pm, where cocktails are offered at a fraction of their regular price. Do note that the stairs to get to and from the rooftop bar are somewhat steep, so make sure to take extra care when you’re climbing up or down, especially if you’ve already had a few drinks.

Dinner Late

Address: Phaholyothin Rd, Tambon Wiang, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Facebook page: Dinner Late

Opening hours: 5pm - 11:30pm (daily)

26. Practice playing golf at Santiburi Country Club

Even the most particular golf player will love this course, which features well-maintained grounds designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, known as one of the best golf course designers in the world. In fact, the golf course in this country club has been consistently ranked as being one of the best not just in Thailand, but in Asia. The courses are challenging enough for both beginners and expert golfers alike.

Santiburi Country Club

Address: 12 Moo 3, Wiang Chai 57210, Thailand

Website: Santiburi Country Club

Opening hours: On reservation

Price: Starts from 26 USD

27. Watch a hit movie at Major Cineplex Central Chiangrai

เลามาคนเดียว เลามาคนเดียว 🤔👀 #JurassicWorld 🌏

Posted by Areerat Nannii'z on Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Once you’ve had your fill of Chiang Rai’s historic and cultural attractions, why not kick back and relax by enjoying modern entertainment? The latest Thai and English flicks are shown here. The seats are comfortable, and the theaters are spacious so you won’t feel crowded. There’s a concessionaire if you want to enjoy some snacks while you’re watching your movie.

Major Cineplex Central Chiangrai

Address: Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Website: Major Cineplex Central Chiangrai

28. Explore the Black House at the fascinating Baandam Museum (from USD 39.0)

From the White Temple, we now move to the Black House, the work of Thawan Duchanee, who, like Chalermchai Kositpipat, is also an artist. “Black House” in itself is actually a misnomer, as this attraction actually features a number of buildings in dark hues. The facades of these structures are not the only reason why these structures are distinctive; these are decorated by animal remains such as an elephant’s skeleton, snake and crocodile skins, and buffalo horns.

Join Tour One Day Chiang Rai , White Temple& Blue temple & Black House

Duration: 11 hours

1 review

29. Play a round of pool at the old-fashioned Cat Bar

If you’re looking for a place to kick back and relax after a long day, head over to the Cat Bar. One of the long-running bars in Chiang Rai, this is where you can play pool with your friends, enjoy a few drinks and light snacks, and on some nights, enjoy live musical performances starting at 10:30 pm. If you’re in the mood, you can even go on stage to play with the band. Use of the pool table is free, but be aware that owing to the popularity of the Cat Bar, there are also other visitors who may want to play there.

Cat Bar

Address: Jetyod Rd, Tambon Wiang, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Opening hours: 2pm - 1am (daily)

30. Enjoy a refreshing drink at Betty Coffee

Those who love Betty Boop, the cartoon character dressed as a flapper who made her debut in the 1930s, should not miss out on dropping by Betty Coffee, which is practically a shrine to her. Posters and dolls bearing her visage decorate this cozy little cafe, which offers refreshments that help you cool down after spending a few hours outdoors.

Betty Coffee

Address: Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Discover the beauty of Chiang Rai

Because of its small size, Mueang Chiang Rai is quite easy to overlook for more popular tourist attractions such a Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Doing so will be a big loss especially for culture lovers, because there is a lot of beauty and history compressed in this small area. Take the time to drop by this district and discover for yourself all of its fantastic secrets.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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She considers freelancing for Trip 101 to be a combination of two of the things she loves: writing and traveling.

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