The Best Things to See and Do in Chiang Rai, Thailand

The Black House
The Black House | © Thanate Tan/Flickr
Iona Proebst

Chiang Rai is well worth a visit and has plenty of exciting things to see and do. Gain a deeper cultural insight into the area, relax in a refreshing pool at the foot of a cascading waterfall, discover the diverse hill tribes, and much more.

The White Temple

A highlight of any visit to Chiang Rai is a trip to 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.

Wat Rong Khun White Temple, San Sai, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand, +66 53 673 579

The White Temple, Chiang Rai

For a fun and cooling day out head to Khun Korn Waterfall, roughly a one-hour drive from Chiang Rai. Walk through the forest to reach the staggering 70 meter tall Khun Korn Waterfall. This is the perfect way to refresh on a hot day.
Khun Korn Forest Park Waterfall, Highway 1208, Mae Kon, Chiang Rai, Thailand

The Black House

The Black House or Baan Dam 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 is this is highlighted with an onsite torture chamber in one of the outlying buildings.
Baan Dam Black House Museum, 333 หมู่ 13 Tambon Nang Lae, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Thailand, + 66 53 776 333

Pong Phra Bat Hot Springs

A local favourite, this waterfall and hot spring combo are just 14 kilometres outside of Chiang Rai city. This rustic and charming attraction includes a small park, two concrete bathhouses with private sunken tubs, and an outdoor pool with divine views. Entrance to use the pools is only 10 baht and 20 baht for a private room, a day out that won’t break the bank!
Pong Phra Bat Hot spring, Ban Du, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai, Thailand

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 in rural village life.

Mae Salong Nok, Mae Fa Luang, Chiang Rai, Thailand, +66 22 505 500

Tea plantation, Doi Mae Salong

1. Hill Tribes Museum and Education Centre


Thailand’s north, and particularly Chiang Rai, is home to diverse and vibrant hill tribe groups. Gain a deeper insight into the history, culture and traditions of the seven major hill tribes that live in Northern Thailand, namely Karen, Hmong (Meo), Yao, Lisu, Lahu, Lawa and Akha. The Hill Tribes Museum and Education Centre is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm and 10 am to 6 pm on weekends and public holidays.

Oub Kham Museum

Cultural enthusiasts won’t want to miss the opportunity to learn more about Lanna culture, history and art at the Oub Kham Museum. On display are antiques, pottery, ancient Buddha images, tribal artefacts and costumes. The museum is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm.

Oub Kham Museum, 26 Nahkhai Rd, Tambon Rop Wiang, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Oub Kham Museum

Chiang Rai Clock Tower

If you have already paid a visit to the White Temple, you will not be surprised to see the twisting and swirling spires on the golden clock tower where Phaholyothin Road and Banpaprakan Road meet. Built in 2008 to honour His Majesty King Bhumibhol Adulyadej, the clock tower bears the signature style of Chaloemchai Khositphiphat, the artist who conceived and built the White Temple. Every evening, at 7 pm, 8 pm and 9 pm, the clock tower comes to life in a light and sound display.

Chiang Rai Clock Tower, Moo 3, Pa Or Don Chai Maeung, Wiang, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Chiang Rai Clock Tower

The Golden Triangle

For an exciting day trip head to the world-famous Golden Triangle where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet. The area is famous as it was previously widely known for its poppy growing and thriving opium trade which today has been replaced by more sustainable livelihood crops such as coffee, rice, fruit and vegetables. Visitors can rent a longtail boat and cruise down the river along the shores of three countries.

The Golden Triangle Park, Wiang, Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai 57150

landscape with balloons floating in the air


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