Chiang Rai is a part of the Chiang Mai province in the northern part of Thailand. It is a beautiful location at the borderline near Laos and Myanmar. It has been developing really well in the tourist sector lately. Chiang Rai is a calm place with a cultural enchantment. The specialities of this place are its art, temples, food, music and architecture. A trip of 2 days would be sufficient for Chiang Rai.
Why should you visit Chiang Rai?
1. It is calm and does not bring the city buzz vibes. It accounts for the perfect weekend getaway plans. Chiang Rai provides for both the tourist experience and a home away from home feel.
2. The temples are one of its kind. The architecture is so unique that it is definitely worth paying a visit.
3. The night bazaar & the Saturday walking street, which is almost a mile long excites the shopper in us. Chiang Rai hosts Jazz festival as well, which is soothing for both the ears and the mind.
What to pack?
1. Clothes: Comfortable/fashionable clothes - as you please and a few full-length garments that cover your hands and legs completely, for the temples.
2. Accessories- hats, Sunglasses, umbrella, water bottle it is better to carry reusable ones than to carry plastic bottles, contribute a little in saving the environment, I am sure you will feel great.
3. Footwear: Slip-on kinds with buckles or straps until your ankle for the temples and shoes to visit other places around would be the best choice.
4. Toiletries: All your required toiletries. Be sure to include sunscreen lotion or moisturiser too.
5. Essential medications, if you take any
How to reach Chiang Rai?
You have to reach Chiang Mai and take the green bus from there to Chiang Rai. The distance is 200km and would take 3 to 3.5 hours to reach from Chiang Mai. Chiang Rai also has an airport so you can search for flights as well. Chiang Rai has many direct flights from Bangkok. But it is advisable to visit Chiang Mai first and then visit Chiang Rai because these two places are not very far from each other and it is more convenient to visit Chiang Mai.
How to get to Chiang Mai-
By Flight: Chiang Mai has its international airport. You can either book your flight directly to this place or fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
By train: Although this route will take you longer to reach Chiang Mai, this is the most scenic route. There are daily trains both during the day and overnight trains from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The day train fares are lower than that of overnight ones. It takes approx. 10-15 hours by train.
By Buses: There are very comfortable buses that frequent from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The bus journeys are 10 hours long approx.
Where to go and what to do at Chiang Rai?
1. White temple:
This temple is called Wat Rong Khun. A visit to the temple requires you to be in a dress code that covers your shoulders, and your trousers or skirt should cover your knees. This temple has a blend of Thai and Hindu culture and is completely covered in white, hence its name. The white signifies the purity of Buddha's soul and the glass in the temple represents the wisdom he had. This temple is worth a visit to appreciate the intricacies of Thai culture, Hinduism and Buddhism. The architecture and design is praiseworthy.
2. Wat rong Suea Ten:
This temple is otherwise called the blue temple. This was a less visited place initially, but now it has gained popularity. The blue hue of the temple is lovely. The design and details of this temple are very modern yet, having its roots into Thai culture. You will lose track of time as you observe and appreciate the details put into the temple.
3. Baan Dam (Black Museum):
This museum or house, as it is sometimes called has a dark/black exterior, and all the houses in the premises display remain of animals- their skin, bones or teeth. This museum holds a contradictory emotion to that of the white temple. It is said that the animals weren't killed; they died a natural death. This thought makes the place a little less distressing to be at.
4. Golden triangle:
We know that Chiang Rai is at the borderline of Thailand. The Golden Triangle is the point where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet. This point has a confluence of two rivers- Ruak and Mekong rivers. The Golden Triangle is approx. 60 km away from the main city of Chiang Rai. The place has a pleasant view.
5. Wat Tham Pla:
This is a cave which is also called the fish cave temple or monkey temple. It is always better to have a guide along when you go here. It is very dark inside the cave, and at the other end of the cave, you get to view the Golden Triangle. The cave has Buddha statues inside. You will see a lot of monkeys here, but you don't have to be afraid of them. Most people who love treks and hiking would definitely go to this place.
6. Long Neck Village and shopping:
Chiang Rai, like Chiang Mai, has their hill tribes still living the traditional way. It is nice to know the culture and language of different people. Their lifestyle and habit are different from the other locals who stay there. The Akha hill tribe is one of them. They have houses made of bamboo or mud- constructed on the ground or stilts. Women are known for embroidery skills, while men do agriculture. They have a distinct way of dressing. Their rings are impressive and a massive part of their culture.
Chaing Rai has night bazaars and Saturday walking streets. You can buy your souvenirs, affordable clothes and relish the street food here.
Chiang Rai has a relatively flat terrain and is safe to cycle around the place to enjoy its beauty and slow-paced lifestyle in a better way. Day time and overnight cycling tours are organised along with sightseeing. This kind of trip will be a fun and enjoyable experience. If you are here for a weekend getaway, this option should be considered.
Chiang Rai is a small city that takes you away from the daily hustle of life and brings you to a state of peace with yourself. This place has an atmosphere that calms us down and reminds us that life is much more than the everyday race of life.