Chiang Rai is located in the far north of Thailand and is considered a more laidback state as compared to the other more famous destinations in the country. Add this peaceful Thai city to your itinerary for its amazing historical landscapes, delicious local cuisine, and beautiful scenery. Here’s a list of the 5 best things to do in Chiang Rai that will give you an experience of a lifetime.
See the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)
The main attraction that you must visit when in Chiang Rai is the famous White Temple, otherwise known as Wat Rong Khun. Designed by Thai visual artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, it is considered one of the most unique temples in Northern Thailand for its all-white façade and having an interior painted with murals filled with many pop culture references such as Superman, Harry Potter, Michael Jackson, and even your favourite Despicable Me minions.
The construction of the temple began in 1997 and is still a work in progress, with surrounding buildings being constructed. Every corner of the temple provides an excellent opportunity to captures photos because of its one of a kind and surreal appearance.
Visit Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew is the original location where the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok was enshrined. It was initially called Wat Pa Ya, also known as Bamboo Forest Temple, it is one of Chiang Rai’s oldest and most renowned Buddhist temples. Be sure to add this temple to your itinerary as it is considered one of the best things to do in Chiang Rai.
The history behind the name of Wat Phra Kaew was that in 1434 lightning struck the temple’s chedi (shrine), which then reveal the Emerald Buddha, made out of jade. After a long journey that included a stopover in Laos the Buddha is now enshrined in the Wat Phra Kaew temple of the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
Explore the Black House (Baan Dam)
Another place that you need to visit in Chiang Rai is Baan Dam or better known as Black House. Baan Dam was created by Chiang Rai-born artist Thawan Duchanee, who resided in the building until his death in 2014. The collection of painted wooden houses resembles black temples, igloos and also a submarine.
Duchanee designed many of the works of art in this complex, you’ll find approximately 40 buildings of various architectural styles as well as objects featuring animal bones, skins and skulls. Most of the buildings are open for public viewing and spread out on peaceful grounds, but it has a surreal vibe to the place.
Chiang Rai Clocktower
The Chiang Rai Clocktower was designed by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the same artist who created the famous White Temple. It is a popular golden work of art located right in the centre of town. It is a monument that also serves as a traffic roundabout.
The best time to visit the clocktower is at 7 pm, 8 pm, and 9 pm each night when the tower is lit up in a 10 minute vibrant light and music show. Be at the clocktower on time because if you miss it, you will need to wait for another hour.
The clocktower is located right in the middle of town at the intersection of Thanon Jet Yot and Thanon Baanpa Pragarn, which makes it great for navigating around the city because of the central location.
Relax at Chiang Rai Beach
When it comes to the best beaches in Thailand, the first place that comes to mind is undoubtedly Phuket or Krabi. However, Chiang Rai has a relaxing stretch of sand you can visit to relax and unwind. Chiang Rai beach is located 4km outside of town along the banks of the Kok River. The journey to the beach takes about 15 minutes from Chiang Rai by tuk-tuk or motorbike, but it is also possible to walk to the beach, but this could take longer around 45 minutes to an hour.
The beach is popular with locals as its located far away from the main tourist attractions. On top of that, the riverside bamboo huts surrounded by the forest is a great place to enjoy some local Thai cuisine and cold beverages.
Take a trip down to far north of Thailand to explore this beautiful and peaceful Thai city. Or if you're a first-time traveller, you can also consider to visit the best places that are located all around Thailand.
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