When you have just 24 hours to spend in one of the most exotic and stunning locales in North Thailand, what do you do? Well, you make the most of it.
As part of the Tourism Authority of Thailand newsroom bloggers trip, we had exactly one day in this amazing city and we maximized it by going to the best places to visit in Chiang Rai. Follow our game plan if you are short on time, though, I would recommend atleast a week in Chiang Rai or more.
Top Places to Visit in Chiang Rai
Doi Tung Royal Villa
Nestled on the steep Doi Tung hill at a height of around 1400 m, the royal villa was the former residence of present king’s mother, Somdej Phra Srinagarindra.
The villa is now converted into a museum which showcases life and achievements of the princess mother. You can literally walk into this royal house and enjoy the grandeur whilst taking in the history via the audio tour.
Photography is prohibited inside the villa so I could not capture the elegance. The most remarkable element of this place is the ceiling of the main hall. Princess mother was big into astrology and she had her favorite constellations engraved with light bulbs denoting the stars. The position of the planets and stars represented her date of birth – 21st October, 1900. This ceiling was professionally designed by Astronomical society of Thailand.
Tip – Cover your shoulders, knees and preferable ankles when you visit the royal villa. No transparent clothing allowed. Jeans and tee would work well here.
Entry fee and timings – Entry to the villas is 90 Baht . Opening hours are 0700 – 1700, open everyday.
Mae Fah Luang Garden
In the same Doi Tung complex, is the lovely Mae Fah Luang garden. Spread over a whopping 10 hectares, this extravagant display of plants and flowers was conceptualized by Princess mother.
The garden is maintained by local villagers and forms a stable income for them due to the ongoing revenue from tourism.
Entry fee and timings – Entry to the garden is 90 Baht . Opening hours are 0700 – 1700, open everyday.
Baan dam Museum
Our next stop was the famous Baan dam museum, created by Thailand’s renowned national artist Thawan Duchanee.
It is famous for the lovely Laana style ‘Black houses’ which boast of architectural detailing. The name Baan dam is actually derived from Baan, which means house and Dam which means black.
The work displayed is controversial, to say the least and might not be everyone’s cup of coffee. However, visiting Baan dam once during your visit to Chiang Rai is a must.
Entry fee and timings – Entry to the museum is free. Opening hours are 0900 – 1200 and 1300-1700 hrs, open everyday.
Rai Boon Rawd (Singha Park)
Rai Boon Rawd was one of the highlights of our trip. It is spread over 3000 acres in the Thum bon Mah–Korn district. Singha park is beautiful with the iconic golden lion statue in the middle, surrounded by epic scenery, tea plantations, cute cottages and a lovely lake.
The best part of Rai Boon Rawd is the zipline. Some of us adventurous souls enjoyed a lovely ziplining experience overlooking the vast expanse of Singha Park.
A great way to end the evening is by spending quality time at the Bhu Bhirom, fine dining restaurant. With scenic 360 degree views, it is advisable to opt for outdoor seating and watch the sun set and moon rise whilst enjoying cocktails and delectable cuisine.
Entry fee and timings – Entry to the park is 50 Baht. It is open 24 hours, daily but best time to visit is 0900 – 1600 hrs.
Chiang Rai Walking Street
The Saturday night market at Suk Sathit, Chiang Rai is quite popular among locals and tourists. Souvenirs start at just 10 Baht each and there is a huge variety of home decor, local street food, clothing, collectibles and handicrafts to choose from. You can easily spend 3-4 hours on this bustling street so ensure you go early and shop at leisure.
Entry fee and timings – No entry. Open every Saturday night from 1700 – 2300 hrs.
The Golden clock tower in Chiang Rai is a popular landmark in the city center. This lovely tower has intricate design and lovely aura as it stands tall as a road junction.
The highlight is watching the 10 min sound and light show as the clock strikes 7/8 and 9 pm every night. There is a blast of colors as the tower lights up in different shades of blue, pink, yellow, white ,golden lights with music blasting in the backdrop. It is quite a stunning sight and gathers more than a handful of eyeballs.
Entry fee and timings – No entry. Open everyday but highly recommended to visit at 1900, 2000 or 2100 hrs to enjoy the light and sound show.
Wat Rong Khun (White Temple)
Next morning (Still within our 24 hours), we headed to Wat Rong Khun. This was the most anticipated part of our journey to Chiang Rai and we were surely not disappointed. The white temple is simply breathtaking, in style of design it is quite similar to the golden clock tower as both structures were designed by Mr. Chalermchai Khositpipat. It mesmerizes you with the untouched beauty and stories behind it are just as interesting as the temple’s design and structure.
From the wishing well to the heaven and hell conflict, from super heroes to do-gooders, every part of the temple has a story and a meaning behind it.
The golden toilet (umm, yes its a toilet) is definitely the world’s most beautiful washroom – there, I said it! I mean, I didn’t even want to use the amenities but I had to – how can you not indulge when this is your toilet? – (pic below)
Tip – You are visiting a temple so be respectable of the Thai culture.Cover your shoulders, knees and preferable ankles when you visit the White temple. A full sleeves shirt with full pants/jeans is recommended.
Entry fee and timings – Entry is 50 Baht for foreigners (implemented from 1st Oct 2016), donations are optional. Open everyday from 0800 – 1800 hrs.
So, have you ever been to Chiang Rai? If so, did you visit these places and how long did your stay? Or if you intend to visit, do these places interest you?
Special Thanks to Sirima Eamtako of Amiris and her team for organizing this fam trip wonderfully and to Thailand authority of Tourism for all the amazing provisions and pampering. I was a guest of TATnewsroom for this trip to #AmazingThailand and it was was just as fantastic as you see from my pictures above.