Chiang Rai is a hidden gem in north Thailand for intrepid travelers. Being the neighbor of Chiang Mai, it is a beautiful crossroad to soak up Thai and Laos cultural influences.
Apart from amazing historic sites, the area is abundant of natural wonders to soak in. Here are my top favorite things to do in Chiang Rai :
Visit the Elephant Sanctuary
Meet with Chiang Rai’s Wildlife with a visit to the Elephant valley, a popular Sanctuary in Chiang Mai. On your day in this place you will see some of the rescued elephants enjoying their natural habitat.
You can either do a half or full day experience engaging in different activities like feeding of the Elephants plus learning more about the good work done by the Sanctuary.
Reserve an exciting day with Thailand Valley Elephant, it is a good choice !
Visit the Clock Tower
This clock tower is one of the top things which bring out a clear view of Chiang Rai’s beauty, its located just in the center of this town. Its location, position it to be the first priority to most of visitors to this town.
Best time of real experiencing this tower is at night when its light shows starts displaying a nice outlook to the city
Do Chiang Rai Walking Street
For those interested in meeting the locals of Chiang Rai, being part of the Chiang Rai Walking Street is the best option to your target.
These are usually open air markets along the road characterized mostly over the weekends, on your day here you will find diverse range local cuisine and clothes displayed for sale.
This walking is best for weekend when the lights are on to exhibit diverse Chiang Rai foods.
See also : Thailand Travel itinerary
Take a Cooking Class
To enjoy a complete culinary experience which is characterized with north Thailand flavors, taking a cooking class is just the best practice.
I found Cooking with Ann a perfect option since they do offer customize class. It allowed us to select what we prefer to cook and eat. If you do not know what to take, reserve the package of 5 recipes which costs 2,000 baht !
Suggestion: Top things to do in Chiang Mai
Go Local with Khao Soi Dish
Feel at home with a taste on this Thai local cuisine popularly known as Khao Soi, this is one of the most popular dishes in the Northern part of Thailand.
It usually includes Coconut based curry served over soft egg noodles topped with crisp egg noodles, the dish is accompanied with pickled greens, and chopped shallots.
Be part of the Night Bazaar
Be thrilled with Chiang Rai exceptional nightlife with a check in for the Night Bazaar, it’s a daily event which starts from 6:00pm till midnight.
This is a nice place to encounter different performances starting from live music, live theatre to Thai comedy shows.
It’s not all about entertainment but also a remarkable place to hang out for nice local cuisine, and cold beer. For those interested in handmade goods this is a nice meeting place with the locals from the surrounding ethnic villages.
The other places to experience more of Chiang Rai’s nature and beautiful scenery is the several water falls surrounding this town. A visit to one or two of these falls is a perfect addition to your adventure. Some of the falls to go include:
Huay Mae Sai Waterfall, which is just about 21km from Chiang Mai town, reaching the suburbs of this fall you are required again to walk for about fifteen minutes from the parking area up to this fall.
Trails heading to this fall from the parking area are usually slippery during rainy season so it’s required you come along with strong hiking shoes.
First level of the fall is characterized with a deep pool suitable for swimming and then second level characterized with a taller waterfall.
Khun Korn Waterfall is another beautiful fall to explore in Chiang Rai, it’s just 32kilometres from Chiang Rai. This water fall is located in Namtok Khun Korn Forest Park ranked to be one of the tallest waterfalls in the town.
Experience the real nature of Chiang Rai on a 1.5 kilometer trek through the Forest up to the exact location of this feature.
Mountain Hiking Adventure
For adventure lovers, Chiang Rai is good at offering exceptional Mountain hiking experiences, starting from East to West this town is bounded by several Mountains. Actually this is the best way to uncover Chiang Rai’s beauty offered.
During the adventure you are exposed to different sceneries in place and scenic views of the available areas. This is one of the main reasons why you should consider Chiang Rai for your next adventure.
Some of the Mountains to experience the adventure are
Doi Tung which is a popular Mountain in Chiang Rai surrounded by different ethnic villages and Tea Plantations, it’s just located to the north of the Province.
Located in the North western Chiang Rai is another Mountain standing at an elevation of 1367metres “Doi Mar Salong”, its peak is usually accessed via a very steep road.
Between December and January is the best time of visiting this Mountain and get exposed to the grounds bloomed by flowers.
Next on list is Doi Pha Tang which is just located 30km north of Phu Chi Fa, it sits at an altitude of 1909metres. Reaching at its peak, it’s a stunning view of Laos and Thailand separated by Mekong River.
A camera is usually essential for this adventure to take nice photos of the scenic views of areas around and landscapes.