Chiang Rai is a small town in northern Thailand, known especially for its White Temple.
We visited Chiang Rai on our way from Chiang Mai to Laos and stayed for a few days – read below about things to do in Chiang Rai with kids or without.
Chiang Rai with Kids
Visit the White Temple – Wat Rong Khun
The White Temple has to be at the top of the list of things to do in Chiang Rai with kids. It’s a mind-blowing place in all its intricate surreal detail
Before the White Temple there was another temple on the site which was falling apart. Thai artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat rebuilt it to his own design and with his own funds. Every piece of the temple is an artistic statement, some looking pretty weird. Hands reach out of the pool at the entry to the temple, heads of superheroes hangi from the trees and Hello Kitty pictures are painted inside the temple.
You can spend half a day here exploring and discovering it without getting bored.
Adjacent to the White Temple is a what looks like a Golden Temple, but you won’t find it in the guidebooks. It’s the toilet.
The White Temple is located a little outside Chiang Rai and you can get there by tuk-tuk or Uber – at a cost around 150 Baht ($5) or you can go by local bus (as we did)
entry to the temple for foreigners
Adults – 50 Baht (less than $2)
The White Temple is open every day from 8am till 5pm
Visit The Blue Temple – Wat Rong Suea Ten
As if the White Temple is not enough there is also a Blue Temple. The Blue Temple as the name suggests is blue inside and blue embellished with gold outside. The internal painting is reminiscent of the White Temple. Maybe this is because they have been done by Putha Kabkaew – a student of the White Temple creator.
How to get there: The best way is to take a tuk-tuk and combine your visit with the Black House which is further in the same direction.
Entry to the Blue Temple is free
Visit the Black Temple – Baan Dam
Another temple to see in Chaing Rai with kids? This is not a temple though some call it that. The Black House is a museum and gallery is dedicated to both the work and eclectic collections of Thawan Duchanee, a controversial Thai artist and collector.
Here you will find tables covered with snakeskin runners, seats and sculptures created from animal horn and leather. All very creepy, but nonetheless fascinating.
The whole site includes around forty buildings, mostly black and some white, set out in an attractive garden. Each building contains more strange and fascinating furniture and beautiful exhibits. When that all got too much for us we still enjoyed playing in the garden.
We got there with Uber and come back in a tuk-tuk. We paid 100 Baht ($3) in Uber and 150 Baht ($5) in the tuk-tuk.
Visit Elephant Valley
Probably this is the most ethical of Thailand’s elephant sanctuaries – certainly the animals here are showered with respect and care. You can visit Elephant Valley every day. They have a conveniently located office in the centre of Chiang Rai, where you can book your day or half-day trip – you can even spend a night there. Whatever you decide you won’t regret it. The elephants are beautiful animals and you will spend time feeding them, bathing and learning about them.
Half a day in Elephant Valley costs around 1,600 Baht ($50) and includes pick up and drop off from/to Chiang Rai
Watch a Beetle Fight in the Night Market
Go crazy at the night market. Chiang Rai has a great night market located in the middle of the town. We went there every evening to browse stalls and buy souvenirs Chiang Rai was our last stop in Thailand, so we went crazy with souvenir shopping and we weren’t disappointed. The local food is great too.
Location of the Chiang Rai night market.
Visiting Long Neck Village
This is a controversial place to visit, and has been compared to a human zoo. It offers a commercialised opportunity to take photos of tribal women and buy souvenirs – in fact the whole place is almost like one big souvenir shop.
The money from entry fees does go to the people living there, however we were not comfortable with the idea of commercialising women because their traditions look strange to us.
Most of the long neck tribes migrated here from Myanmar. Girls start wearing neck rings from the age of 5 and then every year add one ring. Long necked women have the same geometry of neck-bones as everyone else but the weight of the rings pushes their chests down. It is said that the rings are supposed to have offered protection from tiger teeth.
I was sorry to see so much commercialisation here, since these tribes had always represented a romantic view of the Far East to me from my own childhood. As we had already seen a less commercialised long neck tribe in Pai we did not go again here.
Read how to get to Pai from Chaing Mai.
The entry fee is 300 Baht ($10)
Clock Tower Light Show
Another famous feature of Chiang Rai is the gold clock tower in the middle of the town. In the evening it is the centrepiece of a light show.
Singha Scenic Park, also known as Boon Rawd Farm is owned by the corporation who produce Singha beer. At the entrance of the park you can see a big statue of the Singha tiger.
The Park is vast, you can spend the whole day here, just wandering around having a rest from the hassle of the Chiang Rai. Additional activities are a zip line (not for the faint hearted!) Farm visit, pet zoo and giraffe feeding.
How to get to Singha Park – the best way is to combine a visit with the nearby White Temple
The Park is open whole year, The best season is from November to January
Entrance is Free If you want a tour then that will cost 50 Baht (less than $2)
How to get to Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai has own International airport which is located just 8 km outside the town. Other and the most popular option is arrival from Chiang Mai.
How to get to Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai
Whatever way of transport you will use to get to Chaing Rai – By private car, minubus or Greenbus use 123goasia website to book the tickets. Website is easy to navigate, you will get digital ticket, you can pay online using PayPal and all is sweet and easy.
We came to Chaing Rai with Greenbus company tickets cost $7 each and journey took 3,5 hours.
Where to go from Chaing Rai ?
We visited Chiang Rai on our way to Laos. We spent here 3 days before heading to Laos border. From where we took boat on Mekong river. If you want to go to Luang Prabang and don’t fancy boat ride you can go from Chiang Rai to Luang Prabang by bus.
Chaing Rai with Kids – Pin for Later
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