The town proper has a population of around 62,000. It is the commercial centre of the Golden Triangle border region of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. It is an excellent base for exploring the region. Chiang Rai is essentially a service city for the surrounding province. The greater area has a relatively small population of 200,000 people, but also has a respected university and other civic facilities.
The character is distinctly Northern and is distinct from Chiang Mai to the south in various ways. The food is spicier and the ethnic composition includes a good percentage of hill tribes and Burmese exiles.
Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI) is on Phaholyotin Rd 8 km from the centre of Chiang Rai. The airport is served by AirAsia, Nok Air and Thai Airways to Bangkok. There are 3 weekly flights to Kunming operated by Eastern China Airlines.
At a desk in the airport you can hire a pre-paid taxi. It costs 200 baht to the city centre and more to other places (the prices are on display). It will take you to your hotel, or the driver will find you one if you give him the price range you want to pay.
Metered taxis are much cheaper than the pre-paid taxis, but they may not wait for customers at the terminal. However, if you don't have too much luggage and you don't mind walking about 200 m, there are normally some metered taxis waiting just outside the airport area. You should be able to see them from the curb when you leave the arrival hall. A trip downtown will cost under 100 baht, and you don't have to bargain or insist on the use of the meter, drivers will always use them automatically.
There are two bus stations in Chiang Rai. The old bus station and new bus station. There is a songthaew (officially a "minibus") connecting the two bus terminals. It costs 10 baht per person and takes 15 minutes. Some drivers ask you to pay more if there are fewer than 10 passengers, despite what the official price list posted inside the songthaew says. You can just wait for the next one and pay 10 baht.
Old Bus Station (Bus Terminal 1) is in the centre of town. Buses coming from Chiang Rai Province stop here. From here you take the bus south to Phayao, and north to Mae Sai. There is enough English written on the signs and buses at the terminal to tell where the bus is going. You board the bus and pay the ticket collector (confirm with him/her first that the bus is actually going where you want to go. They stand outside the entrance door of the bus as well as help load large luggage to the top of the bus).
- Chiang Khong, on the Laos border. Buses leave every hour or so and have the destination clearly marked. The journey takes two and a half hours and costs 70 baht on local bus.
New Bus Station (Bus Terminal 2), (7 km south of the city, just off the super highway). Buses from elsewhere in Thailand stop here
- Chiang Mai - There are three types of bus: first class with air-con, second class with air-con, and VIP. Air-con (first and second) - stops one time for 15 minutes. Takes just over 3 hours. Costs 186 baht (2nd class a little less). 1st Class provides free water, nuts and hand-towel. VIP - takes 3 hours, costs 360 baht. Operated by Greenbus, departs Chiang Mai Arcade Terminal 3 on a regular basis. Green bus stops at both Chiang Rai terminals.
NB: You may well pay more for the tuk-tuks at each end than for the trip itself.
The nearest train station is in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Rai is about 820 km north of Bangkok and is easily accessible from Bangkok via Hwy 1, Hwy 32, and from Chiang Mai via Hwy 118.
Public transport consists mainly of tuk-tuks and songthaews, plus a smaller number of taxis. The city itself can be explored on foot, but for trips into the province consider renting a car or a motorbike. Budget and Avis both have offices in Chiang Rai and there are several local agencies. If you don't feel up to driving in what may be a very different environment, then consider hiring a car with driver. It doesn't cost much more.
Chiang Rai has a few cyclo-rickshaws, which can be a pleasant way to see the main sights if you want a fairly quick tour.
A motorbike is a good way to see these parts; there are several trails and a 250 cc dirt bike is a great way to see the countryside.
- ST Motorcycle is in the centre of town. It has most brands of motorbike.
- Soon's is another place that delivers motorcycles to some guest houses and may have a pick-up location.
For a suggested itinerary, see Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai in 3 days
- Bandaam Museum (Black House or Black Temple), 414 Moo 13 Nanglae (About 10 km north of the city. After driving 1.9 km past Chaing Rai University on Hwy 1, turn left into Soi 13 (the first left after the blue sign reading), ☎ +66 53 705834, +66 53 776333, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00-17:00, closed 12:00-13:00. Created by Thailand national artist, Thawan Duchanee, the grounds include nearly 40 small black houses made of wood, glass, concrete, bricks, or terracotta in various unique styles and design scattered around the temple’s area. The cluster of houses accommodates Thawan’s collections of paintings, sculptures, animal bones, skins, horns, and silver and gold items from around the world. Several of the houses exhibit Balinese and Burmese architecture and art dating back to the Ayutthaya period. The artist uses bones as a source of inspiration to paint. It is definitely not a place for animal lovers. There are also various kinds of baskets and drums from many regions and countries on display at Baandam. Not all exhibits are open to public. Open to everyone except tour groups. Free.
- Chiang Rai Cultural Centre (Just north of the new airport, on the other side of the highway, next door to Rajapat Teacher's College).
- Cultural Hall Museum (Near the TAT building on Singhaklai Rd is a large white building that has a huge statue of King Mongkut at the main entrance). Visitors can find prehistoric tools, two medieval cannons, costume examples, ancient pottery and examples of ancient Lanna literature in the Dhamma script. There are also videos available, a model of the city and a display of five major areas of Thai culture. Adults, 10 baht; children, 5 baht.
- Haw Shan Art Gallery (Out NongBua Rd, across from Family Bakery). A large, dark-wood, Shan-style pavilion. It can be opened for special showings.
- Hilltribe Museum and Education Centre, 620/1 Tanalai Rd (in the centre of town), ☎ . 08:30-18:00. Aimed at promoting a better understanding of hill tribes and their cultures. The dusty low-key displays include that of housing styles, tools, utensils and traditional hunting, fishing and agricultural equipment, but it's worth a visit for an unsanitised view of how the hill tribes are exploited by some Thais and the tourist industry. The centre also runs their own hilltribe tours, where the money actually goes to employ and help the tribesmen. There is a branch of Bangkok's Cabbages and Condoms restaurant downstairs, whose profits go to support family planning and sex education projects in Thailand.
- Lanna Museum (Rong Rian Ban Sang Khong Yai, just southwest of Chiang Rai Hospital at an elementary school). Open on request.
- Mae Fah Luang Art & Cultural Park (5 km west of town). Two lakes, a barge and several large Shan-style small ponds. There is an interesting Haw Kam Golden Temple with two Shan halls containing accoutrements collected by Princess Maha Chakri and examples of Lanna craftsmanship: seven-armed candelabra, Buddha Images, wooden altars, embroidered cloths for wrapping Buddhist scriptures, carved wood screens, swords and monks' fans.
- Oub Kham Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์อูปคำ), 81/1 Na Khai Rd (Rob Wiang near Den Ha market 1 km from the centre of town), ☎ . Daily, 09:00-17:00. The collection displayes objects used in the royal courts such as Lanna, Khum Chao Phare, and Khum Chao Chiang Mai. Some are from northeast Myanmar, southwest China and Vietnam and are about 500-1,000 years old. Visitors can view 120 year-old ancient fabrics, Sin Mai Kham-golden silk skirt-from the Mandalay, the golden throne, king’s golden costumes and silver ornaments. A golden bowl used by royals, is a masterpiece. All of those show the glory of the kingdom in the past. Adults, 200 baht; children, 100 baht..
- Princess Mother '90 Museum. A sizable fascinating pavilion dedicated to the life of the beloved princess mother (mother of the present king, King Rama IX). On display are fine collections of lacquer boxes, wood pulleys, pottery, weaving equipment and some old handwritten folded texts with drawings. Free.
- Sirindhorns Chinese Language and Culture Centre (ศูนย์ภาษาวัฒนธรรมจีนสิรินธร) (Mae Fah Luang University), ☎ +66 53 917093, +66 53 917097. Established through the cooperation of Mae Fa Luang University and the People’s Republic of China. The centre was built as a memorial to honour the princess mother as a symbol of friendship between the two nations. Construction took 7 months to complete at a cost of approximately 60 million baht. The architecture replicates the Suzhou Chinese structure, building decorations and the garden ornaments by complying with the design layouts and using authentic materials shipped from China. The roofing tiles, the doors and the marble tiles laid at the entrance are all examples of a few of the materials brought from China.
- Gate of Siam (on the border with Laos). You stand high up on a mountain. Laos and the Mekong River are in front of you.
- King Mengrai Great Memorial (อนุสาวรีย์พ่อขุนเม็งรายมหาราช) (In town at the intersection leading to Mae Chan). King Mengrai was the ruler of Nakhon Hiran Ngoen Yang (an ancient town on the bank of the Mae Khong around Chiang Saen) before Chiang Rai was established as the administrative centre in 1262. He consolidated his power by merging the different city in the north and founded the Lanna Thai Kingdom in 1296 with Chiang Mai as the capital.
- King Mengrai Stupa (กู่พระเจ้าเม็งราย) (In front of Wat Ngam Mueang atop Doi Ngam). Built by King Chaisongkram to contain the remains of his father (King Mengrai).
- Namtok Khun Kon Forest Park (วนอุทยานน้ำตกขุนกรณ์) (Take Rte 1211 from town. After 18 km, turn right and proceed on for another 12 km. Or go along Hwy 1 (Chiang Rai-Phayao) for about 15 km where there is a right turn to proceed further another 17 km, then a 30-minute walk to the waterfall). The highest and most scenic waterfall in Chiang Rai, Khun Kon is some 70 m in height. Along the route to the site are cool, shady natural surroundings suitable for relaxation and nature walk. It is somewhat of a walk from the parking area, and it is quite hilly, so if you are not reasonably fit for a half hour walk over undulating terrain, then do not try it.
- Phucheefah. Great sunset view.
- Views of the City (Take the old road to Chiang Mai, called Ratchayotha Rd. After a few kilometres, a hill can be seen on the left. Take a left at Nongpoung Soi 3 and wind toward the hill with the temple on top). Buffalo Horn Hill has a splendid overview of Chiang Rai. Other sweeping views can be gained from the top of Doi Kong Kao (Rice Box Hill), 4 km west of town. There's a steep walkway up its west side. Well worth it, plus a 3 m standing golden Buddha statue is at its summit. The summit of the 90 m vertical limestone cliff at Boomerang Park affords a view of the city and miles of the river valley, though it's a bouldering scramble up its west flank to get there.
- Chiang Rai First Church. Built in 1914 at PratuSiri corner. It's Presbyterian.
- Munniti Chiang Rai (Across from Sammakkhi Wittayakhom School on Banpaprakan Rd). Taoist and Mahayana Buddhist temple, a rare sight in Theraveda Buddhist Thailand. There is a Shan house nearby. And on the road to Pattaya Noi is a temple dedicated to to the Chinese Goddess of Mercy featuring a large statue. In the Ban Kheck area is another Goddess of Mercy temple.
- Wat Klong Wiang. Dating back to 1432, this is an excellent, but little-visited temple showcasing exuberant Lanna-style at its best. Noteworthy are the colourful guardian statues, the elephants in the back and the "No Killing Area" admonition at the entrance.
- Wat Ming Meuang (Intersection of Banphaprakan and Trairat Rd). Small temple housing the spirit of the city (ming meuang) in an exquisitely carved and decorated Lanna-style, almost Laotian wiharn.
- Wat Phra Kaeo (On Trairat Rd in town). Beautiful Buddhist temple famous for having housed, in the 14th century, the Emerald Buddha, one of the most famous Buddha images in Thailand. According to legend, the statue was (re)discovered when a bolt of lightning hit a chedi (stupa) on the grounds, cracking it open and revealing the Buddha inside. The temple grounds are lush with greenery and house a compact but excellent two-story air conditioned museum, with a near-exact replica (1mm shorter!) of the Emerald Buddha. The original is now housed in Bangkok in the temple of the same name, on the grounds of the Royal Palace.
- Wat Phra Sing (วัดพระสิงห์) (Near town hall), ☎ . Used to house a major Buddha statue, the Phra Buddha Sihing, which is now enshrined in Chiang Mai. Like Wat Phra Kaeo, the temple now houses a replica instead. A special feature is the Lanna-style Ubosot and the wooden door panels carved by Chiang Rai contemporary craftsmen.
- Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong (วัดพระธาตุดอยจอมทอง) (On Doi Chom Thong on the banks of the Kok River in town), ☎ . Contains what is believed to be the oldest Holy Relic even before King Mengrai built Chiang Rai. The chedi containing the holy relic was probably renovated at the same time the town was being built. A major religious site in Chiang Rai was from here that King Mengrai spotted the strategic location on which to establish the town.
- White Temple (วัดร่องขุ่น Wat Rong Khun) (At Ban Rong Khun, Pa O Don Chai, along Phahonyothin roadside at km816, approximately 13 km from the city. It's easy to get to the temple by public transport: there is a public bus from the Chiang Rai bus station (20 baht, 30 min; platform 8 but verify with driver or counter). To get back, flag down a public bus from the police station on the left side of the road leading back to the main highway), ☎ . Daily, 08:00-18:00. This unique modern temple was designed and built by artist Chaloemchai Khositphiphat starting in 1998. A beautiful white ordination hall, Phra Ubosot, is decorated with silver glittering pieces of mirrors. There are large mural paintings of the Lord Buddha in different gestures. A gable is decorated with a gable apex, a leaf-shaped gable-edging, in the shapes of Phya Naga, dragon and mythical creatures, which are entirely made of white stucco. There are viharn, small hall for recitation surrounding the ordination hall, museum and reception pavilion. The gallery exhibits paintings of Chaloemchai Khositphiphat. Work on the temple continues, and it is not expected to be completed for the next few decades.
- Central Plaza Movie Theatre. A movie theatre showing English-language movies.
- Crouching Lion Hill (1 km west of town, directly across the Mae Kok River from Pattaya Noi). On its west end there's a Buddha Cave and a pleasant picnic/park area. Close to its east end, there's a 3-chambered cave, and each chamber has a natural skylight at its apex. The largest chamber is as big as a basketball court and as high as a large tree. Trekkers can hike right through the hill from the river side (south) to the road side (north). Volunteers from nearby Boomerang Park have kept the south entrance path clear of weeds, and have cut a new path leading from the north opening to the road below. The hill also hosts the area's largest fig tree, halfway along the hill on the river side, with bright red figs adorning its stout branches in the summertime.
- Frisbee Golf (2 km west of Ban Nam Lat, which is a suburb off of Chiang Rai's NW corner.). 9 hole (or nine basket) disk golf course, no cost. Frisbees provided. At same site are twin 160 m zip lines.
- Golf. There are two high class golf courses east of Chiang Rai. Santiburi is 10 km east of town and Waterford Valley is 35 km northeast of town. In town there are two 9-hole courses: the army course that you find close to Mae Fa Luang Bridge and The Old Airport course, which also has a driving range. You can find golf instructors for hire there.
- Kok River (แม่น้ำกก). The 130 km long Kok River flows through Chiang Rai. Chiang Rai Beach lies on the banks of this river and is a popular picnic spot in summer. Longtail boat cruises can be made from town to travel along both sides of lovely sceneries. Stops can be made at hill tribe villages of the Akha, Lisu, Lahu and Karen. Elephant rides are available to see the surrounding area. For more information, contact C.R. Pier Tel: +66 53 750009. Another river route starts from Thaton in Chiang Mai Province going north to Chiang Rai. The trip takes about four hours. Bamboo raft trips take 3 days and 2 nights. Contact Thaton Boat Club Tel: +66 53 459427, Thip Travel Tel: +66 53 459312.
- Prataap Jai (In Sankhongnoi (home to the Sunday Happy Street)). This small three storey shop aims to be a place "where cultures align", offering a number of affordable activities in both English and Thai: bilingual movie nights, open mic nights, yoga, monthly art exhibitions, and workshops.
- Rock Climbing (NW of town). Some free crags for the adventuresome, though they're mostly vine covered. Alternatively, there are some cliffs at Boomerang Park with at least two dozen routes, all skill levels, which have been cleared of vines and debris and fixed with sturdy top rope anchors. Free outdoor activities for all ages.
- Trekking. Organize a trekking tour to the hill-tribes. Various companies, such as Akha Hill House, Natural Focus or Thailand Hilltribe Holidays can organise this.
- Wanna Farm (About 5 km east of Chiang Rai on Rte 1020 (go east at the big light on the highway south of town)). An interesting place, the farm has ostriches which you can feed or ride for 100 baht. It has a low-quality midway section with old country fair games to play. Offers camping and other activities as well.
- Waterfalls and Hot Springs. Kun Korn is a 70 m waterfall about 15 km south of town. Take a right at the wooden sign of the same name. Take the scenic windy road to its end. A smaller set of waterfalls is northwest of town at Mae Sai hill tribe village (not the border town of the same name). There's also a hill tribe museum at that village. Yet another pair of rather large waterfalls is west of town at an Akha village. Go west from town, along the south side of the river, for about 19 km, and look for signs which lead you left into steep hills. Pong Phra Bat Hot Springs: Take Hwy 1 north out of Chiang Rai, to the first village (Bandu). Turn left just after the big market on the highway. Go for about 5 km. If you continue on that road to its end, you get to Pong Prabat Waterfall, which is a year-round stream winding through a very nice forest. Another hot springs is Pha Soet, near the river. It's on a winding road going directly west out of town, which parallels the river, about 29 km. Huai Hin Fon Hot Springs and nearby waterfall are 7.5 km west of Mae Chan, on the south side of the road.
- Lychee Fair (งานเทศกาลลิ้นจี่และของดีเมืองเชียงราย). Held around mid-May every year. There is a float competition, lychee beauty contest and booths of many local products at the Chiang Rai provincial stadium.
- Solar Fair. Hosted by Boomerang Park, showcases products and services related to alternative power, organic farming, and alternative building.
- Wai Sa Phaya Mengrai or Phokhun Mengrai Maharat Festival (งานไหว้สาพญาเม็งราย หรือ งานพ่อขุนเม็งรายมหาราช), ☎ . Held 23 Jan–1 Feb. See the Buang Suang worshipping ceremony which commemorates Phokhun Mengrai Maharat. The fair is organised by Chiang Rai Province.
Aeon Bank ATMs are at 393/34 Ngam Muang Rd in a nondescript shop-front, near B2 Backpackers (look for a purple New Smile Dental Clinic sign). This bank does not levy a 150 baht surcharge fee on withdrawals from foreign cards and the exchange rate is OK. Avoid the Ayutthaya/Krungsri (yellow) ATM. It charges 150 baht per withdrawal and offers a horrible exchange rate.
- Car, driver, guide hire (Thailand Hilltribe Holidays). Private itineraries of the main sights and off-the-beaten-track areas in Chiang Rai.
- Central Plaza (South of city centre on the superhighway). Central Plaza is Chiang Rai's mall. It is 4 storeys tall and has cinema which shows English-language movies. It is located across the highway from Big C and is connected by a pedestrian bridge. Big C has a number of small shops surrounding it and acts as a mini mall. Both Big C and Central Plaza have food courts.
- Morning Market. In the morning there is a good market in Chiang Rai that sells a lot of good local foods meaning you get a real feel for the place.
- Night Bazaar & Food Court (Between the bus station and Phaholyothin Rd in the centre of town). The market consists of many small stands lining the narrow street running between Phaholyothin Rd and the bus station. Everything on display from silk ready-made garments to tattoo etching, even pets. The hill tribes sell an amazing selection of old coins, high quality needlework and very fine quilted bedspreads.
- Saturday Walking Street (On Thanalal Rd in the centre of town). 18:00-22:00.. The market is 4 blocks long with a attached food area with music near the east end.
- Sunday Walking Street (Along Sankhongnoi, southwest of the town centre). Though slightly smaller than the Saturday Market, the Sankhongnoi Happy Street features more performances and cultural activities.
There is lots of good food to be found in Chiang Rai, but most tourists seem to end up eating at the Night Bazaar. There are two separate places to eat here: "Centrepoint", run by a single restaurant with a Western-Thai menu and comparatively high prices (dishes 100-200 baht), and then the "actual" night bazaar food court (dishes 30-100 baht). Both have free music and dance performances almost nightly. Centrepoint has comfortable wooden furniture while the food court uses rather ugly yellow metal tables and chairs. While there are over 50 food stalls to choose from, the fare on offer is mostly quite touristy, with food toned down for the farang palate. About half the stalls seem to be devoted to selling deep-fried stuff (fritters, French fries, tempura) to accompany beer. There are also a few non-Thai stalls, offering Italian, Indian, German, plus the obligatory insect stall for creepy-crawly cravings.
- Aye's Restaurant (Near the bus terminal, opposite the Adidas shop). Great restaurant, serving both European and Thai quality food. From German schnitzels and English breakfast to traditional Thai food. There's a nice atmosphere and a live music every night.
- Chiang Rai Beach (A bit out of town. Go by tuk-tuk or motorbike). During the day or the early evening is an excellent spot. There are around 20 cafes and restaurants overlooking the Mae Kok River. Bring your dictionary with you for there are no English menus to be found.
- Coconut Bar (On the bar street close to Wangcome Hotel). Has good vegetarian options including a good vegetable stew and a chili-sin-carne.
- Muang Thong Restaurant (At the edge of Jet Yod Rd and Phaholyothin Rd). Delicious Chinese food, very popular with locals.
- Nakhon Pathom (นครปฐม) (Phahonyothin Rd near Banphaprakan Rd intersection. No English sign, but look for the red sign with large yellow font Thai letters. It's opposite the Lebanese shop.). Famous khao moo deng (rice with red sauteed pork, or as shown on the menu: rice with BBQ pork, 30 baht) tastes best at this big Chinese restaurant. Big cold coffee machines attract the locals to having lunch there.
- Phetburi, Banphaprakan Rd. Local curry-and-rice restaurant. Just pick your favorites from the display. Ratburi, right next door, is very similar. Under 50 baht for a full meal.
- Po Sai, Jet Yod Rd 1023/2 (Opposite Wangcome Hotel). Open early but closes by 18:00.. Famous for its khao soi (ข้าวซอย) (Shan-style chicken curry with noodles, 25 baht) and other northern dishes like special northern Thai sausage (25 baht) and nam phrik num (dip made of aubergine and peppers). No English sign or menu, but some English spoken.
- Tong Tung Restaurant (West side of the road about 1 km south of Banphaprakan Rd on 1/1 Sanambin Rd (old airport road) (no English sign)). Serves northern Thai food. Their kaeng hung lay curry is recommended.
- LuLum ChiangRai.
- Coffee P2 (On Thanalai Rd (Saturday Walking St) near Ratanaket Rd). Nice coffee shop. Their food is organic and they grow their own hydroponic lettuce. They also have delicious steaks and good pastries. You can also get a beer.
- Doi Chang (Corner of Ratanaket and Phayonyothin (the big light near the night bazaar)). Coffee shop that has hit the big time. Usually packed the owner has been steadily increasing his prices but still the farang come. Their coffee is pretty famous in Thailand and they have a nice cross section of Western and middle eastern food.
- Ingfa (Just west of town center on Ratchayotha Rd). A vast menu of Thai and Western food including pizzas. Their hamburger is probably the best in Chiang Rai.
- The North (In The North Hotel. North Hotel is next to Oasis, in the middle of a small street between the Night Bazaar and the fruit/flower market). Specialises in homemade northern-style food. Here you can find northern Thai sausage, kaeng hunglay (northern pork curry) and a variety of northern-style dishes made by the mother of the owner. Their family recipes give you a real taste of northern cuisine.
- Oasis (Behind the main stage at the Night Bazaar you'll notice a high building situated behind the small cafes which belong to the market. It's at the corner of a street which leads to the fruit market). Till 20:00. A very specialized and delicious vegetarian restaurant. A "must" for vegetarians.
- Rico's (Just west of town center on Uttarakit (across the street from Concotel)). This is the place to be if you're over an older farang who likes to play golf. There is a lively expat community of retirees. Plenty of Western food (including pizzas) and a nice drink selection keeps everyone coming back. Also Rico is very friendly and spends most of his time hanging out, he'll probably come say hi if he sees you.
- Siam Corner, Jet Yod Rd. Very good Thai food, some Western dishes also.
- Cabbages and Condoms (ซี แอนด์ ซี), 620/25 Thanalai Rd, ☎ . Classy (if somewhat toned-down) Thai food in a chic setting, with condoms cropping up in all sorts of unexpected places. Profits go to support family planning and sex education in Thailand.
- Cat Bar, Jet Yod Rd. Jam sessions almost every day and a pool table.
- Easy Bar, Jet Yod Rd. Open all day. You can have a meal here, read the Bangkok Post, watch cable TV.
- Reggae Bar (Somewhere in Night Bazaar's little alleys behind the silver colored stage). 20:00-. Good variety of music and drinks. Later local farangs meet here.
- SiTSip Bar&Coffee House (Ground floor, Wangcome Hotel), ☎ . The place is decorated in modern style. Serving drinks, food, snacks, and lots of cocktails.
- Teepee Bar, 542/4 Phaholyothin Rd. Great ambiance and an eclectic collection of artifacts, a friendly staff, and fairly low-priced drinks. Also is a great place for pictures with rock style wigs and guitars, and there is a good selection of music.
- Turntable Jazz Bar, the North Hotel (Between the Night Bazaar and Sirikorn (flower and fruit) Market), ☎ +66 53 719873,. The only place you can find a wide range of jazz records from the 40 year-old collection of the hotel’s Norwegian co-owner. Jazz-related books also. The bar offers cheap beer and drinks and a friendly atmosphere.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Budget||less than 500 baht|
|Splurge||over 1,500 baht|
- Akha Hill House (Free pickup service from sister hotel, Akha River House), ☎ . 23 km to the west of Chiang Rai in the jungle covered hills, a great retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Rooms have views of the jungle and sun rising over the misty mountains, and the nearby waterfall and hot springs are well-worth a visit. The staff have been variously described as "friendly and eager to learn or practice their English" and "lazy and most of them don't seem to have any interest in having contact with their guests". Open air restaurant, (good food, mediocre plate size, a bit more expensive than in town, but still OK for being 20 km out in the jungle), electric hot water, free Wi-Fi, pick-up (every day 16:30 at Akha River House) and drop-off (every morning at 09:30 back to Chiang Rai, expect to sit in the back of a pick up truck). 250-500 baht.
- Akha River House, 423/25 Moo 21 Kholoy Muang, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-out: 12:00. 20 rooms. Mud-style house with bamboo furniture. Free Wi-Fi and lots of space to relax outside. On the bank of the Mae Kok River. It has a nice restaurant and their staff are very friendly. They organise a great jungle trek. Free Wi-Fi. Laundry service. 250-1,200 baht double (private bath).
- Chat House (Near Wat Phra Kaeo). Good attached restaurant and friendly staff. Free Wi-Fi. Laundry for 40 baht/kg. 80-400 baht.
- Easy House, 869/163-4 Premaviphat Rd, ☎ . Simple fan rooms with shared baths. Baths and rooms are clean though the mattresses are rather worn. Nice bar/restaurant downstairs. No laundry but laundromats nearby. 170 baht.
- Jansom Guesthouse (Near bus terminal 1 and also near a temple which is worth visiting). Cheap guest house in the centre. Clean, nice rooms with air-con, TV, bath with shower and free water in the fridge. You can choose double bed or single bed rooms, there are also rooms for three. Simple breakfast with coffee or tea and toasted bread with orange jam and fruits included. There are some bars in the same street where most of the night life happens. No Internet, but round the corner are Internet cafes. 350 baht.
- Jitaree Guest House (Next to Mae Hong Son Guest House). Twin/double with private bath. 200 baht.
- Mae Hong Son Guest House, 126 Singhaklai Rd (~1 km, ~15 min walk from bus station, north of downtown. Pass the police station. It's the second alley on the right, before the new bridge.), ☎ +66 53 715367, +66 86 5864764. Rooms are basic, but clean and staff are very friendly. Free Wi-Fi. Good restaurant & bar, bicycle/motorbike rental, laundry service (40 baht/kg), and tour service. 150-250 baht.
- Orchids Guest House, 1012/3 Jet Yod Rd () (Off Jet Yod Rd), ☎ . 15 new very clean, spotless double rooms with air-con, TV, free Wi-Fi, coffee/tea included. Central location, quiet rooms, they also offer car, bicycles or motorcycle hire and trekking options with a licensed guide. 350-450 baht.
- Ruangnakorn Hotel (Near the police station). 450 baht.
- Sport Inn Hotel, 557 Prachasanti Rd (5 min from the centre of town), ☎ , fax: +66 53 756156. Very nice hotel, free Wi-Fi. 350 baht for air-con double room.
- YMCA International Hotel, 70 Phaholyothin Rd, ☎ +66 53 713785 to 6, +66 53 702763 - 4, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 100-400 baht.
- Baan Bua Homestay, 1047/2 Jet Yod Rd, ☎ +66 53 717952, +66 84 9506304, e-mail: email@example.com. 500-700 baht.
- Baan Lanna Hotel, 395 Moo 2, Rimkok, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Clean air-con rooms, minibar, and friendly staff. 450-800 baht.
- Baan Warabordee, 59/1 Sanpanard Rd, Moo 18 (On a quiet street near the centre, on the street behind the Wiang Inn), ☎ , fax: +66 53 719293. Beautiful, clean, air-con, well decorated rooms. English is spoken reasonably well. It is a 300 m walk to a main road, and close to the bus station and night market. You can drop laundry some 300 m up the road, give them your hotel details, and they will return it by evening if you put it in before 09:00 (they do not speak English). Another 50 m at the main road intersection is a restaurant where you can get a good Thai breakfast for under 100 baht, and a cheap dinner with beer also. 600 baht.
- Ban Khun Yom (บ้านขุนยม), 155 Thanalai Rd, ☎ 0 5371 6216. 42 rooms. 600-800 baht.
- Ban Silp ((บ้านศิลป์), 260/44 Moo 15 Sankongnoi Rd, ☎ . 27 rooms. 300-600 baht.
- Ban Suan Nanglae Resort (บ้านสวนนางแล รีสอร์ท), 298 Moo 5 Phahonyothin Rd (km851), ☎ . 60 rooms. 600-800 baht.
- City Home, 868 Phahonyothin Rd (near Night Market and bus station), ☎ +66 (0)53600155, e-mail: Cityhome.email@example.com. 20 rooms, fan/air, cable TV. Good location. Clean rooms, good value for money. 600 baht.
- Lek House, 95 Rachayotha Rd, ☎ +66 53 711550 and +66 86 2831868, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 4 backpacker rooms (350 baht), 8 superior rooms with TV, DVD, minibar, hot showers (550 baht), 1 Jacuzzi room (1,300 baht). All rooms include breakfast. Friendly staff, swimming pool, genuine Thai kitchen at budget prices, bar, free Wi-Fi.
- Luck Swan Resort and Spa, 499 Moo 4, Rimkok Muang-Chiang Rai, ☎ , fax: +66 53 750857. New hotel with Thai and Western food. Air-con rooms. Hotel has a nice garden and gazebo. Free Internet access in the lobby. 1,200-1,800 baht.
- La Luna (a short drive from the Chiang Rai morning market). Big satellite TV in the rooms plus nice swimming pool. The gardens are the best feature. Lots of tropical plants well-maintained in a labyrinth of guest villas. The rooms are ascetic and poorly tricked out, e.g., plastic dishes and almost no guest conveniences. The restaurant is comparatively expensive. Basic meals in the 250-350 baht range but require add-ons like plain water, 50 baht, or a small bowl of rice, 50 baht. Breakfast is fairly low-end with rubber scrambled eggs and a small variety of dishes. There is no chef available. Overall, the place is nice to look at, but clearly it rates income over guest comfort.
- Phu Chaisai Resort, 388 Moo 4, Ban Mae Salong Nai, Mae Chan. 3,000-20,000 baht.
- Wangcome Hotel, 69/90 Pemawibhata Rd (Across the street from the Night Market and the bus station), ☎ . Chiang Rai's grand old 1970s hotel, now getting on in the years, but rooms have been renovated and are looking reasonably up to date. Not really an ideal family hotel as is surrounded by massage parlours and bars. Glum shady pool, mediocre breakfast buffet. Airport transfer 100 baht. 1,400 baht.
- Check out the royal villas and mountaintop temple views at Doi Tung, you can hire a car with driver for about 1,600 baht for the day, plus fuel, and you go where you want to go.
- Visit Thailand's northernmost town at Mae Sai and pop across the border to Tachileik, Myanmar (no visa needed)
- Go northeast to the Golden Triangle, where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet, and formerly a major opium-growing region
- Go east to Chiang Khong and cross the Mekong to Huay Xai, Laos
- Go south to Chiang Mai
|Routes through Chiang Rai|
|Mae Sai ←||N S||→ Phayao → Bangkok|