We spent three days in Chiang Rai, and that’s about the right amount of time to get see most things here. Here are our top picks of things to do in Chiang Rai. Click here to book a hotel in Chiang Rai.
The White Temple
One of the main reasons that tourists come to Chiang Rai is to see the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun). This is one of the most remarkable temples that I’ve ever seen, and it’s completely different from any other temple in Thailand. Take a look at the White Temple In Chiang Rai post for all the details, including some amazing images.
The Night Bazaar
The night bazaar is where everyone gathers in the evening in Chiang Rai. The focal point is a central, outdoor eating area with seating for around 300-500 people. Around the edge of the seating area there are about 40-50 food stalls selling all sorts of food. See the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar post for more details.
The Clock Tower
We’d heard about the clock tower before we got here, but weren’t sure what to expect. During the daytime it looks like a very ornate clock tower, but it’s during the evening that the real show begins. At 7 pm, 8 pm, and 9 pm the clock comes to life with a coordinated light and music show that lasts for 5-10 minutes. There are usually well over a hundred people that come to watch the show. Mere photos wouldn’t do this justice, so here’s a video of part of the show.
Chiang Rai Market
Chiang Rai has a very large market two blocks north of the clock tower. Out on the street you’ll find all manner of fresh and cooked food, while inside you’ll find mainly clothes. The market is open every day and is well worth checking out. After visiting the market, you can visit Wat Phra Singh, which is a few minutes’ walk further north – see below.
Wat Phra Singh Temple
Like most towns in Thailand, there are plenty of temples to visit in Chiang Rai. The most spectacular here is of course the White Temple mentioned above, but there are also some temples worth visiting in the town center. One of the best is Wat Phra Singh. If you walk north from the clock tower, you’ll come to the market on your left. After you pass the market, turn right at the top of the road at another, smaller clock tower, and then take the next left. Wat Phra Singh is on the left. It’s about a 5-minute walk from the main clock tower.
Have A Coffee
After all that sightseeing you deserve a break, so go grab a coffee at one of the many great cafes in Chiang Rai. Our personal favorite is Yoddi Coffee, right next to the Clock Tower. Buy a coffee just before 7, 8 or 9 pm, and you can have a front seat view of the clock show.