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Chiang Rai, the city with the most extravagant temples in Thailand

The north of Thailand is ideal for those travelers who want to combine environments full of nature, and visit and discover places full of ancient culture.

Chiang Rai is a destination that tends to go a bit more under the radar, and travelers often give it 1 day.

On my first trip to Thailand, we included the north in the itinerary, but we only added 1 day to visit Chiang Rai, so we barely had time to see much, and we missed enjoying the Golden Triangle and the surroundings of Chiang Rai. And I, who love to hit every street, left with a bad taste in my mouth, knowing that I was leaving many things to see.

On my last trip to Thailand I spent 2 full weeks in the north of the country, going totally on my own.

In this post I tell you all the essential places to visit in Chiang Rai, some secret and little-known places, its most extravagant temples, how to get there, I give you a little information about the Golden Triangle and our VIP stay, and I tell you places low cost to sleep in Chiang Rai and that are also great.


Wat Rong Khun

The Wat Rong Khun or the white temple is possibly the most visited temple in Chiang Rai and it is a mandatory stop. It is a modern temple, its construction began in 1996 and at present the details are still being finished.

It impresses as an extravagant temple due to its architecture and originality, which have made it a unique space in the world as well as one of the most visited places in Thailand.

In a Buddhist and Hindu temple it is completely painted in white and with silver details that make it stand out and shine even more.

In front of the temple you will find a lake, which if you are lucky and the day is sunny, the temple is completely reflected in it.

In the complete you will find the Bridge of Reincarnation, the Gate of Heaven, the Ubusot, and the House of Gold.

As soon as you arrive, you are surprised by the mixture of the traditional style with a totally surreal style. A sea of ​​sculpture full of arms and skulls, dragons, Buddhas, Hindu gods, even comic characters and representations, all coexist perfectly together.

The bathrooms of this temple could not be otherwise than a recreation of a small temple in yellow, adding more extravagance to the place.

The whole temple is amazing!

The temple is located just outside the city center of Chiang Rai. About 15 km. You can go by bus, minivan, taxi, or with a motorcycle or rental car.

This temple opens at 8 am each day and closes at 5 pm on weekdays and at 5:30 pm on weekends.

If you want to take a tour of all of Chiang Rai, with a guide in Spanish, you can look at this option, which is very interesting since it includes a large part of the essentials on my list (not all of them, hehe).

Wat Rong Seua Ten

Wat Rong Seua Ten or the blue temple, as it is popularly known, is even more beautiful than the previous one. And it is an essential place to visit in Chiang Rai.

It stands out for being of an intense blue color that predominates throughout the temple. This temple is very new, its construction began in 2005, but it did not open its doors until 2016.

The central building, the Ubosot, is decorated down to the smallest detail with paintings and sculptures. Inside is a 6-meter-high white Buddha. Located at the back of the temple is another standing Buddha. In the enclosure there are also two large sculptures called Nagas. These statues guard the entrance.

This temple, being practically new, is very popular, not only with tourists but also with locals. And it is usually full. We arrived at noon and it was impossible for us to enjoy it, so we returned the next day first thing in the morning, as soon as they opened. It's also a good idea to visit at night, before closing time.

This temple is also not in the center of Chiang Rai, it is about 3km away. You can arrive by tuc tuc, taxi, motorcycle or car rental and there is also the option of arriving by bicycle (I saw several tourists do the entire route with the typical rental bikes) although being a fairly passable road, it is not more recommended.

This temple opens around 7:00 am and closes at night at 8:00 pm.

Wat Huay Pla Kung

This Temple is located on top of a mountain, about 9 km from the city of Chiang Rai. It is rather a complex made up of a typical Chinese 9-storey pagoda, a temple and a huge white Buddha figure almost 90 meters high. In addition, you can enjoy spectacular views by taking the elevator to the top of the Buddha.

The 9-story Chinese temple is in the shape of a decagon, and inside it houses a huge exhibition of carved wooden Buddha figures on each of the building's floors. Among all of them stands out an imposing figure of 30 meters high in the central part. Awesome!

This temple opens at 8 am and closes at 6 pm.

You don't have to pay anything, except to go up in the elevator, which is 40 baths.

To get there, just like the other temples, you will have to find a transport option; tuc tuc, taxi, minivans, rental car, motorcycle...

Wat Phra Singh

This temple is one of the oldest and most important in the city, in which the images of Buddha, the carved wooden reliefs, the door and the library stand out. It is very small and being in the center of the city you can visit it on one of your walks.

It opens every day at 6 am and closes at 5 pm.

Wat Phra Kaew

This temple is located in the center of the city, and it is where the relic of the Emerald Buddha was found, which is currently in the Royal Grand Palace in Bangkok. The temple is very small, surrounded by vegetation. And inside, a gold-plated wooden Buddha predominates in a small room in red and gold.

It is a temple rarely visited by tourists, being more for local use. Admission is free and it opens from 7 am to 5 pm.

Wat Klang Wiang

It is a Buddhist temple, which often goes unnoticed by tourists. Despite being small, it is full of details in its decoration. In addition, from the temple you can visit its white pagoda and its library.

Its facade is spectacular.

This temple opens at 8 am and closes at 6 pm.

If you have time, there are many more temples in the city that you can visit, they are for daily worship, tiny, but precious. Among all those that exist for me the most beautiful are: Wat Nong Pa An, Wat Khun Chai, Wat Sa Ton Phueng, Wat San Sai Mai and Wat Doi Phrabat.

Ba'an Dam Museum

The Black House or Baan Dam Museum is one of the most essential places to visit in Chiang Rai. It is a complex with around 32 wooden buildings painted in black. This entire small town is the work of Thai architect Thawan Duchanee, who tried to represent his vision of Buddhism in all his works, including this place. The decoration of the buildings stands out for having stuffed animals, something unusual, bones, skins, wooden sculptures... Visiting hours: every day from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Night market

Chiang Rai night market is quite small, if we compare it to Chiang Rai. Here you will find craft stalls, souvenirs, clothing, electronics and food stalls.

Clock tower

The Clock Tower is the work of the creator of the White Temple, Chalermchai Kositpipat.

This golden monument that you will find in the middle of a roundabout in the center of the city.

At 7:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m., you can see a small light and sound show.


Golden triangle

From Chiang Rai you can take an excursion to visit the Golden Triangle. You can do it on your own if you want. Without a doubt, if you can, you should include a day in your itinerary to visit this destination. I tell you much more about the Golden Triangle of Thailand, how to get there, what to see etc... in the post:

Mae Salon

Mae Salong is a town in northern Thailand.

It is a rural environment surrounded by mountains full of tea plantations. It is one of the most beautiful areas in the north of the country. And it is worth spending some time to get to know this place.

In Mae Salong, the vast majority of the population is of Chinese descent and the Akha tribes.

You can tour the tea fields, visit some of the city's factories, visit the Chinese Martyrs' museum, General Tuan Shin's mausoleum, the Akha market in Mae Salong and don't forget to visit the Phra Chedi Boromathat temple. It's a beauty!

You can get to Mae Salong from Chiang Rai, the most comfortable option is by rental car, or by motorcycle. It takes about 2 hours to go there and 2 hours to return. To this you must add that during the journey you stop sometimes to take photos of the landscape and then spend a few hours getting to know the city. It is a full day excursion.

You can also go by bus (platform 5 of Chiang Rai Central Station) to Mae Sai, get off at the Pasang/Mae Salong stop and from there take a blue shared van to Mae Salong. In case of taking any bus in Thailand, it is always better to talk to the driver to tell him where you want to go and thus make sure that he tells you if you should get off at an intermediate stop. You can also see the transport options from here 12goasia.


In Chiang Rai there are not as many accommodations as in Chiang Rai, even so you can find options for all budgets.

We stayed the last time, at the Connect Hostel, we paid less than 20 euros per night in a double room with a private bathroom. The hostel is great!


I hope you enjoy your trip to Thailand very much and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue reading many more related articles on the blog.

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A hug and see you soon!


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