The province of Chiang Rai is one place with a range of attractions in its capital that first timers almost always end up skipping unknowingly. This small city has everything that would make one stop by and spend some time at so that they can fully get to know the place. The atmosphere is laidback, there is tasty local food, and as an outsider, you can easily get good value accommodation.
This is also the place where most visitors stay before they can go on and plan the rest of the excursions, in other places around the province. In any scenario there are so many things to do in Chiang Rai. The area itself goes back to 1262, at the time it was part of the Lao Thai Lanna Kingdom. Chiang Rai did not become a Siamese territory till the end of the 18th century, and only in the early 20th century did it gain provincial status. It also stands as not just the northernmost geographically located city, but also happens to be the largest city in Thailand. Somewhere along your exploration of the city you might see the Burmese heritage attached to the place’s history. For several centuries Chiang Rai was under the Burmese rule, but was annexed by Siam, which is Thailand today, later on. Sightseeing is probably one of the biggest things to do in Chiang Rai. The place is dominated by more tourists than by the local people. There are plenty of ways to get to the city; your options include travelling to the place by car, a private tour van, by train from Chiang Mai, by bus, and via plane from the Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport.
If you are wondering what you could possibly do in Chiang Rai that would be better than the rest of Thailand, know that there are tons of attractions in this city. Some of the amazing places that you should not miss while on your trip include Wat Rong Khun, Wat Phra Kaew, Doi Tung, Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong, Phu Chi Fa, Wat Pra Singh, and the Navel City Pillar of Chiang Rai. Apart from the historical temples and other textbook destinations, you can explore other avenues as well. The Saturday Night Walking Street located at the north side of downtown is a prime example. This is the point where hundreds of the locals gather to show their crafts, there is native food, local dances etc. If you get tired of simply looking, travelling, and exploring, you can always check out the Night Bazaar as well. The night market is located in the center of Chiang Rai. Here you can find local products, souvenirs and trinkets, over 40 places to eat, and popular cultural performance. You might also want to pack for a warm weather. Also, keep in mind that the area experiences monsoon season from April through till October.
This is another symbolically artistic attraction of Chiang Rai. The concept of the design behind this structure is a series of carved stone pillars that rise around a meter high on the Jom Thong Hill. On a marble pedestal there is a main pillar that is bigger than the rest of the 108 pillars. These represent the lower levels of heaven. The pillars were designed in Banom Ba Keang style which is based on Lanna. The design of the outside area is a stunning depiction of the river and the land.
You have to be there to feel the supernatural feel this place has to it. So don’t forget to make it a part of all the things to do in Thailand. This place was built three decades ago in celebration of the king, and is inside the grounds of Wat Phra, so you may come across it if you are around Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong. As part of all the things you can do in the Navel City Pillar of Chiang Rai, it gets you an amazing view of downtown province, as well as the Kok river.