November 29-December 3, 2016
We were in Chiang Rai for 4 full days, but only did touristy things for 3. I had never heard of Chiang Rai before this trip and during our research while we were in Thailand I knew it was a place I wanted to see. It is an easy and very cheap bus ride from Chiang Mai. The VIP bus was $7/person for a 3-4 hr. ride. It is worth the couple extra bucks for the VIP bus. Get off on the last stop in town for easy walking or tuk tuk ride to your hotel. There are plenty waiting for you. As a reference we paid 150 baht for a tuk tuk to get from mid town to the airport, so do not pay more than that to get somewhere in town.
Here are 5 places you can’t miss:
1) Wat Rong Khun – It’s more popular name: The White Temple
One of the youngest temples, this place is an easy taxi ride from town. It’s incredibly busy all the time. It’s 50 baht to walk through the temple and over their famous bridge with the out reached arms. We did not walk through, but enjoyed the grounds.
2) Rong Sear Tean – It’s more popular name: Blue Temple
We enjoyed a bicycle ride to this temple. It was easy getting to from town and worth the effort. It was quiet as it’s not as popular as some of the other temples. Take time to get to this hidden gem, but remember, people still come here to pray.
3) Wat Huai Pla Kung
After the blue temple we could see this big Buddha in the distance. We rode our bikes as close as we could get and then walked up the steep hill to this point. There isn’t a lot to do here but the views, going under the big Buddha, seeing the monks bless people, the temples and area were good enough for us. Beautiful during the day or evening at sunset.
4) Choui Fong Tea Plantation
This place was beautiful. It was a long taxi ride from Chiang Rai, but I felt the experience was worth it. We had never been to a tea plantation before and their green tea was delicious. A lot of the reviews will tell you to go to a tea plantation in Sri Lanka, but dude, I am in Thailand right now, not Sri Lanka. Get some tea, have a dessert and sit on top of the cafe. The only bummer is there are no tours, but you can walk through the rows of tea!
5) Baan Dam – It’s more popular name: Black House
We did this along with the tea plantation because it was on the way. It’s 80 baht per person to get in. The only thing I can tell you is, it’s STRANGE. It was definitely interesting to see. There were small museums and shops before you enter but some of them were closed. The reviews about this place are hit or miss, but we felt it was worth seeing since we were close. Take some time to walk through the animal hides, old artifacts, cool buildings and check out the incredible wood work on some of the buildings.
Something that you don’t need on your list because you will definitely see it is the Clock Tower. Go during the day and at night starting at 7:00 p.m. They do a fun little light show with music.
You might ask about the Golden Triangle or the Karen Village. We decided not to do the Golden Triangle because of the distance and bad reviews. With regards to the Karen Village we did not do it again because of the controversy of exploiting these women and children. These women are not Thai, but are from Myanmar (so not an authentic Thai tour) and most do not live at the villages. Decide for yourself if you want to go, most people only really care about getting a picture of the long neck women. We also did not participate in any animal tourism while here.
Hostels – There are dozens of hostels on Jetyod Rd. We saw private rooms for 180 baht per night.
Mid Range Hotel: We stayed at La Patta and booked it through hotels.com. I thought it was perfectly located to walk everywhere from the night market, clock tower and the food streets. They also had free bicycles, breakfast and mini bar.
Luxury Hotel: Well as luxury as you can get, Le Meridien.
I was surprised that almost all the restaurants had free WIFI and of course the hotels do too.
Night bazaar Cat N’ a Cup Melt in Your Mouth
Wang Come Rd – It’s near the Clock Tower has a very cute outdoor area with multiple food “trucks.” There are burgers, teppanyaki, japanese bbq, and cheap drinks.
Jatujak – Cute restaurant with a coffee shop vibe. Good food and cheap prices.
Barrab – Again this is near the Clock Tower on restaurant road. It was one of the few restaurants that was open between 4-5. The food was incredibly cheap and incredibly good. We ate there two days in a row for lunch. Traditional northern Thai food.
There is of course so many options of food in the area. We found that we didn’t really come across anything bad when we stayed in the main area and the restaurant streets (where Barrab is).
This was our last stop on our month long trip in SE Asia. This trip gave us a little bit of everything and we are so happy we were able to experience it.
Easy itinerary for 3 days:
Day 1: White Temple – Explore the city (get a foot massage) – Night Market
Day 2: Rent a bike and go to Blue Temple – Big Buddha – Lunch at Barrab – Afternoon Pool – Wang Come Road for Dinner
Day 3: Get a taxi to take you to Black House – Choui Fong Tea Plantation and have snacks and green tea here – Dinner at Melt in Your Mouth
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