How To Spend 48 Hours in Chiang Rai, Thailand

The Black House | © jipe7/Flickr
The Black House | © jipe7/Flickr
Photo of Iona Proebst
18 October 2017

Got 48 hours in Chiang Rai? Don’t worry, even with just a little bit of time you can still get a comprehensive and exciting taste of what this city has to offer. Explore some of the popular cultural sights, try local specialities, discover the nightlife and more! Check out our helpful guide on how to make the most of your time in Chiang Rai.

Explore the famous White Temple

A must see on any Chiang Rai itinerary is the famous Wat Rong Khun, otherwise known as the White Temple. This unique temple juxtaposes tradition with contemporary art and was created by the famed Chaloemchai Khositphiphat. His lifelong project is expected to be continued after his death, and he can be found on site working away on most days. Spend a few hours exploring this intriguing and artistic temple.

White Temple | © ryan harvey/Flickr

Experience authentic northern Thai food

Ran Lab Sanam Keela takes you on a culinary journey of authentic Lanna food. This is one of the most well-known restaurants in Chiang Rai. Although the menu offers only a few dishes, all of them are irresistible delicacies that reflect the traditional dining culture of the area. The Yang Ruam is particularly recommended; pla tabtim tod kratiem, tom sab moo and jeen neung are also worth a try. Enjoy!

Ran Lab Sanam Keela, Rop Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai, Thailand, +66 87 173 2498

Go for a relaxing afternoon tea

If you are in need of a break from sightseeing and want a relaxing place to relax by the river check out the “Simple Life,” Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House, Bistro & Bar. This family-run cafe is set in a beautiful colonial-style house right on the banks of the Kok River. There are numerous places where you can sit and enjoy a coffee, tea, freshly baked goods or home cooked meals and marvel at the natural surroundings or peruse the beautiful collection of antique items.

Sample the Chiang Rai nightlife

Chiang Rai cannot compare to the world-famous nightlife of Bangkok, but it does have a few bars that are worth checking out! If you are travelling along, stopping off at some of the town’s popular popular watering holes can be a great way to meet both locals and foreigners.

Chiang Rai bar | © Stefan Häusl/Flickr

Good morning Chiang Rai!

Opposite Ko Loi public park facing the river, a few steps away from the Chiang Rai Boutique River Resort, you’ll find Melt In Your Mouth Chiang Rai. While the place is a popular restaurant that’s known mainly for its dinner and desserts, the breakfast is worth a look too. Come early in the morning and enjoy a relaxing breakfast while taking in a view of the river and the gardens all around.

Melt in Your Mouth, Mueang Chiang Rai, Tambon Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai, Thailand, +66 53 754 181

Uncover the secrets of The Black House

Not as famous as the White Temple, Chiang Rai’s black house is still a fascinating place to visit. This quirky and curious museum was inspired by Chaloemchai Khositphiphat, the mastermind behind the White Temple and the Chiang Rai Clock Tower. The Black House has a traditional Thai feel at first glance, however, once you look a little further, you see a more morbid side appear, with decorations made out of animal skins and skulls. The artist hoped to create a space that shows the darker side of human thoughts and actions, and this is highlighted with an onsite torture chamber in one of the outlying buildings. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours unravelling the inner thoughts of the artist as you explore this unique attraction.

The Black House | © jipe7/Flickr

Taste heaven

For lunch, jump into a delicious bowl of creamy Khao Soi. Khao Soi Phor Jai is the perfect opportunity to try the northern Thai speciality. This popular local restaurant serves up steaming bowls of the creamy curry noodle soup dish. The atmosphere is lively and busy, it is advised that you come early so you don’t miss out!

Khao Soi Phor Jai, 1023/2, Chet Yot Road, Tambon Robwieng, Amphoe Muang Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai, Thailand, +66 53 712 935

Khao Soi | © Ryan Snyder/Flickr

Embrace your wanderlust

After lunch why not head out of town to the Pong Phra Bat Hot Springs. This waterfall and hot spring combo is located 14 kilometres outside of the city and is a rustic and charming attraction to while away a few hours in and rest those travel weary muscles. Entrance to use the pools is only 10 baht and 20 baht for a private room, an afternoon activity that won’t break the bank!

Got time spare?

If you still have some time to kill or are looking for a place to continue your adventure, visit Doi Mae Salong. Nestled in the mountains in Chiang Rai Province, and close to the border of Myanmar, lies Doi Mae Salong. The mountain was home to a Chinese military division settlement and is also home to numerous hill tribe communities. For the optimal experience, hire a motorbike and drive the stunningly beautiful 1234 highway. Mae Salong village offers stunning nature, delicious tea tasting opportunities and the chance to immerse one self in rural village life.

Doi Sae Salong | © Atibordee Kongprepan/Flickr

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