Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai: Explore Epic Highlights of Northern Thailand 

Ultimate Northern Thailand Travel Guide: Including Insider Travel Tips

Are you planning a trip to Thailand? If you are, I highly HIGHLY recommend exploring Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. These are two mesmerising cities nestled in Northern Thailand, where an extraordinary fusion of culture, history, and breathtaking landscapes await!

First, immerse yourself in the electric energy of Chiang Mai as you delve into a world of ancient temples, vibrant night markets, and cultural wonders. Then, escape to Chiang Rai, where awe-inspiring natural beauty and one-of-a-kind attractions promise a soothing retreat.

After travelling across Thailand extensively over the years, and spending several weeks exploring both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai very recently, I’ve crafted the ultimate Northern Thailand Travel Guide, which showcases all the best things to do in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai (and more!)

Things to Know Before Travelling to Thailand

Official Language

The official language of Thailand is Thai. Thai is the primary language spoken by the majority of the population and is used in government, education, media, and daily interactions. However, we found that local guides and people in the more touristy areas tended to speak English as well.

Official Currency

The currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht (THB). It is denoted by the symbol “฿”. Banknotes are commonly used in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 Baht, while coins are available in denominations of 1, 2, 5, and 10 Baht.

I recommend having Thai Baht for most transactions, although some tourist areas and larger establishments may accept major international currencies or credit cards. Currency exchange services are widely available in airports, banks, exchange booths, and hotels throughout the country.

Best Time to Visit Northern Thailand

The best time to visit northern Thailand, including Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, is during the cool and dry season, which typically runs from November to February. During this time, the weather is pleasant, with milder temperatures and lower humidity. You can expect clear skies and comfortable temperatures, making it the ideal time for outdoor activities and exploring all that these amazing provinces have to offer.

Here’s a breakdown of the seasons in northern Thailand:

  • Cool and Dry Season (November to February): This is generally considered the peak tourist season due to the pleasant weather. Daytime temperatures range from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F), with cooler evenings. It’s advisable to bring a light jacket or sweater for the cooler nights, especially in December and January.
  • Hot Season (March to May): The hot season is characterised by high temperatures and occasional humidity. Daytime temperatures can reach 35°C (95°F) or higher, making it quite hot. This period may not be ideal for outdoor activities, but you can still enjoy sightseeing if you plan your day accordingly and stay hydrated.
  • Rainy Season (June to October): The rainy season brings frequent rainfall, but it also results in lush green landscapes. While you can still visit during this time, it’s important to be prepared for occasional showers and plan outdoor activities accordingly. The temperatures during this period are slightly cooler compared to the hot season.

It’s worth noting that Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai are located in mountainous areas, so temperatures can be slightly cooler than in other parts of Thailand. Whenever you decide to visit, it’s a good idea to check the weather forecast closer to your travel dates and pack accordingly.

Thai Culture

Thai culture is rich, vibrant, and deeply rooted in traditions and values. Here are some key aspects that shape Thai culture:

  • Buddhism: Buddhism plays a significant role in Thai culture, with the majority of Thai people being Theravada Buddhists. Buddhist temples (known as “wats”) are scattered throughout the country, and Buddhist rituals and practices are observed in daily life.
  • Spirituality and Animism: Alongside Buddhism, Thai culture also incorporates elements of animism and spirit worship. Many Thai people believe in spirits and pay homage to local spirits through rituals, offerings, and ceremonies.
  • Respect for Monarchy: Thai people hold great respect and reverence for the monarchy. The Thai royal family is highly esteemed, and displays of respect and loyalty are widespread.
  • Hospitality and Friendliness: Thai people are known for their warm hospitality and friendliness towards visitors. They are often eager to help and make you feel welcome. The concept of “sanuk” (fun/enjoyment) is important, and Thai people generally have a lighthearted and friendly demeanour.
  • Wai: The traditional Thai greeting, known as the “wai,” involves placing the palms together in a prayer-like gesture accompanied by a slight bow. It’s a sign of respect and is used to greet others, express thanks, or show reverence.
  • Loyalty to Family: Thai society places a strong emphasis on family and filial piety. Respect for parents and elders is highly valued, and family unity is considered essential.

These are some of the prominent aspects of Thai culture, but it’s important to note that Thailand is a diverse country with regional variations and influences from neighbouring countries. Thai culture is deeply cherished and celebrated, and its traditions and customs contribute to the country’s unique charm and allure.

Safety in Thailand

After travelling quite extensively through Thailand over the years, including as a solo female traveller, I often get asked is it safe to travel to Thailand alone.

In my experience, Thailand is generally a safe destination for solo travellers. It attracts millions of visitors each year and this includes solo travellers from around the world.

However, as with any travel destination, it’s important to exercise caution and take certain safety precautions. Here are some tips to ensure a safe trip to Thailand:

  • Before your trip to Thailand, gather information about the places you plan to visit, local customs, and cultural norms. Familiarise yourself with local laws and customs to avoid any unintentional offences.
  • Respect the local culture, customs, and traditions of Thailand. Dress modestly in temples and religious sites, and be mindful of local etiquette and sensitivities. This will help you avoid unnecessary misunderstandings or conflicts.
  • Choose reputable accommodations with good reviews, particularly in terms of safety and security. Consider staying in well-known tourist areas where there are plenty of other travellers.
  • Keep your valuables, such as passports, money, and electronics, secure at all times. Use hotel safes or secure lockers to store your belongings when not in use. Be mindful of your surroundings and avoid displaying expensive items that may attract attention.
  • Like in any tourist destination, be cautious of scams and touts. Exercise common sense and avoid engaging in activities that seem too good to be true. Be wary of strangers offering unsolicited help or overly friendly gestures.
  • Use reputable transportation options such as licensed taxis, ride-sharing services, or public transportation. Ensure that vehicles are properly licensed and consider using reputable apps for booking rides like Grab. Exercise caution when using motorcycles or renting vehicles, and always wear a helmet if riding a motorcycle.
  • Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded places and at night. Avoid walking alone in unfamiliar or poorly lit areas. Trust your instincts and if something feels unsafe, remove yourself from the situation.
  • Inform someone you trust about your travel plans and Bangkok itinerary. Keep them updated on your whereabouts and check in with them regularly. Having someone back home aware of your plans can provide an added layer of security.

While Thailand is generally safe, it’s always a good idea to stay informed and stay updated on travel advisories or warnings issued by your government or relevant authorities. Take the necessary precautions, be aware of your surroundings, and trust your instincts to ensure a safe and enjoyable solo travel experience in Thailand.

Best Things to do in Chiang Mai:

#1 Royal Twin Pagodas

Welcome to the King and Queen Pagodas, which are one of most awe-inspiring landmarks of Thailand, located in Doi Inthanon National Park.

The pagodas tower over the city with their stunning golden spires, making them an absolute must-see attraction in Chiang Mai. Each pagoda is adorned with colourful mosaics and intricate carvings, while the surrounding gardens and grounds are beautifully landscaped and feature fountains, statues, and other works of art.

The true heart of this sacred space is the deep reverence and devotion that the Thai people hold for their beloved King and Queen, whose statues are enshrined here as a symbol of their enduring legacy and leadership. Prepare to be moved and inspired as you explore this remarkable tribute to two of Thailand’s most beloved and revered monarchs.

#2 Wachirathan Waterfall

If you’re looking for the most epic waterfall in Thailand, be sure to check out Wachirathan Waterfall! This magnificent waterfall towers a whopping 80 meters high, sending water cascading down over rocks and boulders, creating a mesmerising display of nature’s power.

Wachirathan Waterfall is nestled in the heart of the Doi Inthanon National Park, making it the perfect destination to cap off your exploration of the King and Queen Pagoda.

Here you can breathe in the fresh mountain air as you explore the walking trails that meander through the landscape. Then, when you need a break from your adventure, you can visit the nearby eateries to indulge in mouthwatering local delicacies.

Overall, this stunning natural wonder is an absolute must do in Chiang Mai and should be added to your Thailand itinerary immediately!

#3 The Old City

Embark on a journey through time as you wander the enchanting streets of Chiang Mai Old City, a living museum nestled within the heart of this vibrant province. Surrounded by ancient walls and a picturesque moat, this captivating area is steeped in history, culture, and architectural marvels that will transport you to the bygone era of the Lanna Kingdom.

Meander through the labyrinthine alleys lined with quaint shops, bustling markets, and cozy cafes, where the scent of aromatic Thai cuisine wafts through the air. Here you’ll discover architectural wonders including over 30 temples, each boasting a unique fusion of Lanna and Thai design.

chiang mai old town

While you’re here, delve into Chiang Mai’s rich history at the fascinating Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Centre, where interactive exhibits and engaging displays bring the past of the city back to life.

After soaking in the area’s history, you can relax at one of the many inviting parks, such as Buak Haad Park, where lush greenery and tranquil ponds provide the perfect respite from the bustling streets.

chiang mai

#4 A Thai Cooking Class Adventure

Unleash your inner chef and embark on a tantalising journey through the culinary wonders of the city, with an unforgettable cooking class, which is one of the most authentic things to do in Chiang Mai!

You’ll begin your culinary adventure by exploring bustling local markets, where you will handpick fresh ingredients that form the backbone of mouthwatering Thai dishes, famous for their balance of flavours and spices.

With your ingredients in hand, you’ll return to the kitchen where expert local chefs will guide you through the process of creating iconic dishes like Pad Thai, Tom Yum, and Green Curry.

As you savour the fruits of your labor, you’ll leave with a newfound appreciation for the art of Thai cooking, bringing home not only the memories of an incredible experience, but also the skills to recreate the magic of Chiang Mai’s flavours in your own kitchen.

thai cooking class

#5 Mae Klang Luang Village

Chiang Mai is surrounded by mountains and forests that are home to several hill tribe communities, with each group having its own unique culture and traditions.

We were lucky enough to visit the Karen Tribe at Mae Klang Luang Village, who are known for their intricate weaving and basketry skills, as well as their traditional clothing, which features brightly coloured patterns and embroidery. Here you’ll get the chance to purchase some incredibly unique souvenirs and help support the local community at the same time.  

Mae Klang Luang Village is also a coffee-producing village known for its unique flavour profile. If you’re interested in experiencing a coffee tasting, I’d recommend finding a local guide to help you navigate the village. Here’s a link to the wonderful tour we did, which is customisable.

#6 Revitalise your Soul at the Best Spa in Thailand

Get ready to experience ultimate relaxation with a traditional Thai massage! This centuries-old massage technique involves a unique combination of stretching and deep pressure on specific points of the body, providing a truly rejuvenating experience for both the mind and body.

With an abundance of spas and massage parlours located throughout Chiang Mai, you can indulge in this ancient therapy wherever you go. Whether you’re looking to unwind after a day of exploring the city’s bustling streets or seeking relief from stress and tension, a Thai massage is the perfect way to unwind and recharge your batteries.

If you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking out Srimantra Spa, which is right in the centre of Chiang Mai city and looks like something right out of the Flintstones!

This amazing Spa offers a range of treatments that cater to all your needs. From the soothing aroma of essential oils to the calming ambiance of dimly lit rooms, every detail here is designed to melt away your tension. I literally had the best Thai massage of my life here. For me, it’s truly the best spa in Thailand!

#7 Monk Chats

Lots of temples in Chiang Mai offer monk chats – so check them out for some different perspectives.

Monk chats take places Monday through Friday (5-7pm). Visit for more details, schedules and other fascinating events!

#8 Elephant Nature Park: A Sanctuary for Gentle Giants

If you’re looking for where to see elephants in Thailand then look no further than Elephant Nature Park! This is an inspiring sanctuary that not only provides a loving home for these gentle giants but also offers an unforgettable opportunity to connect with these majestic creatures in a responsible and ethical manner.

Leave behind the traditional elephant riding and embrace a more compassionate approach at Elephant Nature Park. Here, you’ll witness the heartwarming sight of elephants roaming freely in their natural habitat, as they forage, socialise, and bathe in the park’s refreshing rivers.

elephant nature park

Join the dedicated team of caretakers and conservationists on an immersive journey as you learn about the individual stories of the elephants and the tireless efforts of the Park to rescue, rehabilitate, and protect these magnificent creatures.

You can even participate in the elephants’ daily routine, by helping to feed and bathe them, all while gaining a deeper understanding of their complex social behaviours and unique personalities.

The Elephant Nature Park is one of the most ethical and best places to see elephants in Thailand. You’ll leave this amazing park with a newfound appreciation for these remarkable creatures and a renewed commitment to their conservation.

Overall, this life-changing experience is one of the top amazing things to do in Northern Thailand, I guarantee it will touch your heart and inspire your soul.

#9 Bazaar Nights: Chiang Mai’s Buzzing Evening Market

As the sun sets, prepare yourself for an unforgettable evening at the vibrant Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, where the sights, sounds, and smells of Thailand come to life!

This is one of the largest and most famous night markets in Thailand, drawing visitors from all over the world who come to experience the best of Thai culture, food, and crafts. The lively atmosphere and the warm hospitality of the locals make for a memorable experience that will stay with you long after you leave.

With its diverse range of sights, sounds, and tastes, this cultural hotspot is not to be missed, and promises to be an unforgettable highlight of your Thailand trip (I still dream about the ice cream rolls I had here!)

Best Restaurants in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai has a serious abundance of delicious restaurants to choose from. Here are a few of the best restaurants in Chiang Mai:

  • Ginger & Kafe: This restaurant offers a blend of Thai and international cuisine, served in a charming colonial-style house. The menu includes everything from traditional Thai dishes to tasty Western favorites.
  • Dash! Restaurant & Bar: Located in the trendy Nimmanhaemin area, Dash! is known for its modern fusion cuisine. The menu features creative dishes combining Thai flavours with international influences.
  • Huen Phen: If you’re looking for authentic Northern Thai cuisine, Huen Phen is a must-visit. This local favourite serves up traditional dishes like khao soi (curry noodle soup), sai ua (grilled sausage), and gaeng hung lay (a rich pork curry).
  • The Riverside Bar & Restaurant: Overlooking the Ping River, this restaurant offers a beautiful setting to enjoy both Thai and international cuisine. It’s a great spot for a romantic dinner in Chiang Mai or a relaxing drink with friends.

Where to Stay in Chiang Mai

During our visit to Chiang Mai, we stayed at Rimping Village, which is a luxurious 4-star hotel situated in the city centre. This gorgeous retreat has traditional Lanna-style architecture and a stunning pool area, making it very Instagram-worthy!

Rimping Village Hotel offers a complimentary breakfast and afternoon tea style lunch, which is delicious and makes staying here pretty good value for money. The food is amazing, on average I had about 6 plates of mango sticky rice a day (…they were small okay!)

Also, the location of this hotel is perfect for exploring the city and immersing yourself in the local culture and attractions. One of the highlights of our stay was the proximity of Rimping Village to the Night Bazaar, which was only a 10-minute walk away and quickly became our go-to spot for dinner.

In my experience, this gorgeous resort is one of the best places to stay in Thailand! I seriously miss it!

Getting from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

Getting to Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai is extremely easy and there are multiple options. We chose to get the bus, as it was the most affordable option and there are several buses a day. It takes around 3 hours and there are both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses available, with varying levels of comfort and price. We chose the VIP option which cost 300 Baht (around £8) and included a spacious air conditioned bus, with free water and cake!

You can also get to Chiang Rai by Private Car or Taxi. This option is more expensive, but it offers more flexibility in terms of departure times and stops along the way. The journey takes 3 hours and costs approximately 2000-3000 Baht.

For more adventurous travellers, renting a motorcycle is a popular option. The journey takes 3 hours and costs around 200-300 Baht per day for rental. However, this option requires experience in riding a motorcycle, as well as proper safety gear.

Additionally, you can travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai by plane. The flight takes about an hour, and there are several airlines that offer flights between these provinces, including Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia, and Nok Air.

Best Things to do in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is often overlooked by tourists in favour of its more famous neighbour, Chiang Mai. However, this charming city has plenty to offer travellers who are looking for a more authentic Thai experience. If you only have time to visit one province in the north, I would actually recommend staying here instead of Chiang Mai, as it’s even more affordable and there is seemingly endless things to do.

From stunning temples to natural wonders, here are some of the best things to do in Chiang Rai:

#1 Wat Rong Khun (White Temple)

One of the most famous landmarks in Thailand and the best thing to do in Chiang Rai is the White Temple. Don’t miss this awesome temple off your Thailand itinerary, it’s a stunning work of art, with intricate carvings that make it look like it’s made of snow or ice. The famous temple was designed by renowned Thai artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat and is considered one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand.

While pictures of the White Temple are impressive, seeing it in person is a truly unique and unforgettable experience that can’t be replicated through photos alone. The White Temple is a deeply spiritual and emotional space, and being there in person truly allows you to connect with it in a way that can’t be captured in a photograph.

#2 Wat Rong Suea Ten (Blue Temple)

Wat Rong Suea Ten, also known as the Blue Temple, is a stunning Buddhist temple immediately recognisable for its brilliant shade of rich sapphire. This colour is symbolically associated with purity, wisdom, and the lack of materialism that Buddhists aspire to.

Fun fact: The Blue Temple is often referred to as the “Temple of the Dancing Tiger”, as at the ancient temple that once stood in its place, tigers were said to have roamed freely over its grounds.

This incredible Temple was also designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat, and it’s easy to spend hours marvelling at its architecture and the beauty of its unique blend of traditional Thai and modern artistic styles. When you see the temple for yourself, you’ll understand why it’s one of the top attractions in Northern Thailand!

#3 The Golden Triangle   

The Golden Triangle is located in the far north of the province and is one of the coolest day trips you can do in Chiang Rai. The area is totally unique, as it’s where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos meet.

This region is steeped in history and has been a centre of the opium trade for centuries. However, in recent years, the Golden Triangle has become a popular tourist destination that offers something for everyone.

If you’re after beautiful natural scenery, you can trek through the lush jungles of the region, hike to remote hill tribe villages, or simply relax and take in the stunning views of the Mekong River and the surrounding mountains.

If you prefer historical and cultural attractions, you can explore the ancient ruins of Chiang Saen, take a boat trip along the Mekong River, or visit the Hall of Opium Museum to learn about the fascinating history of the region.

On our trip to the Golden Triangle, we passed through immigration and then caught a Long Tail boat from the pier to Laos, which took around 10 minutes and cost us 100 Baht each way. Note: You can get a visa upon arrival if you haven’t applied for one in advance.

Once you arrive in Laos, there’s so much to see and plenty of tour options if you plan on spending the day there. As we only had a few hours to spare, we headed to China Town to grab some lunch and souvenirs. We then made our way to the opulent Kapok Star Hotel to check out its famous casino. Both of these places are great options if you’re short of time!

#4 Choui Fong Tea Plantation

Set amidst the rolling hills of Chiang Rai, Choui Fong Tea Plantation boasts 1,000 acres of meticulously maintained tea fields, which create a stunning setting that beckons you to explore and unwind.

Here you can embark on a guided tour to learn about the fascinating process of tea cultivation, from planting to harvesting. You can also witness the skilled tea pickers in action and learn about the different varieties of tea grown on-site.

Afterwards, treat your taste buds to a tea tasting session, sampling the delicate flavours of Choui Fong’s finest teas. You can then complete your visit with a stop at the plantation’s cafe, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and serves delicious tea-infused dishes. FYI: I highly recommend the green tea buns!

With its captivating landscapes, insightful tea tours, and delightful culinary offerings, Choui Fong is one of the best things to do in Chiang Rai and should not be missed during your time in Northern Thailand!

#5 Longneck Karen Village

After exploring the Choui Fong Tea Plantation, consider extending your adventure with a visit to the nearby Longneck Karen Village, which is just a 15-minute drive away.

The Longneck Karen women here are known for their elongated necks, achieved by wearing brass coils that are added progressively as they grow older. This age-old tradition is not only a symbol of beauty but also an important aspect of their cultural identity.

As you stroll through the village, you’ll be captivated by the simple lifestyle and warm hospitality of the Karen people. Alongside their traditional bamboo huts, you’ll find beautifully crafted handlooms, intricate embroidery, and a vibrant array of traditional clothing.

By visiting this enchanting destination, you’re not only immersing yourself in a unique cultural experience in Thailand but also supporting the preservation of the Karen Tribes’ heritage.

#6 Scenic Escape at Singha Park

Singha Park is a sprawling recreational park and agro-tourism destination that has a diverse array of attractions, making it a must-visit on your Chiang Rai itinerary.

The Park boats vibrant gardens filled with colourful flowers, meticulously manicured lawns, and thriving tea plantations. For the more adventurous, Singha park offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as zip-lining and hot air balloon rides, allowing you to truly appreciate the breathtaking landscape.

In addition to its natural beauty, Singha Park hosts charming cafes and a working farm, creating a well-rounded experience that seamlessly blends leisure, adventure, and an appreciation for nature. It’s extremely easy to spend an entire day here

#7 The Majestic Doi Tung

This stunning mountain stands tall at 1,389 meters above sea level and offers a myriad of experiences for nature enthusiasts and cultural explorers alike.

One of the highlights of Doi Tung is the Mae Fah Luang Garden. Located at the heart of the mountain, this beautifully manicured garden showcases a stunning collection of native and exotic plants. You can spend hours here wandering along the well-maintained paths, taking in the fragrant scent of flowers, and appreciating the artistic sculptures that dot the landscape.

This area is also home to the Doi Tung Development Project, which was established by the late Princess Mother, and aims to improve the quality of life for the hill tribe communities. By promoting sustainable agriculture, reforestation, and alternative income sources, the project has transformed the region into a flourishing and self-sufficient community. A visit to Doi Tung isn’t complete without exploring the local villages, coffee shops, and handicraft centres, where you can support the community and bring home some unique souvenirs from Thailand.

The Royal Villa is another popular Doi Tung attraction. It was once the residence of the Princess Mother, and is an architectural marvel that showcases a unique blend of traditional Lanna and Swiss chalet styles. A visit to the villa offers insights into the life of the Princess Mother and her efforts to improve the lives of the local people.

Whether you’re an avid hiker, a culture enthusiast, or simply seeking solace in nature, Doi Tung is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Chiang Rai!

Best Restaurants in Chiang Rai

Most Beautiful Cafe in Thailand

The Lalitta Cafe is arguably the most incredible cafe in Thailand, and if it’s not on your radar, it absolutely should be!

Upon entering the cafe, you’ll be transported straight into a fairytale, where you’re surrounded by a towering waterfall, rainbow flowers, butterflies and misty rivers… You truly have to experience this to believe it – the pictures simply don’t do it justice!

Cats, Cuddles, and Coffee

Cat ‘n’ a Cup is arguably the coolest cafe in Chiang Rai!

Head to this awesome Chiang Rai Cat cafe for coffee and cake surrounded by the friendliest of furry felines. It’s simply the purr-fect way to spend an afternoon.

Whether you’re a dedicated cat enthusiast or simply seeking a cozy retreat, a visit to this cat cafe promises a heartwarming experience where you can unwind with your favourite brew.

Surprisingly, Cat ‘n’ a Cup is also one of the best co-working cafes in Chiang Rai, most people in here had a laptop and we met several travel bloggers over our coffee and cake!

The Peak Wine & Grill Restaurant is a hidden culinary gem that offers an unforgettable gastronomic adventure. Combining innovative cuisine, exceptional service, and breathtaking views, this is arguably the best restaurant in Chiang Rai.

Peak Wine & Grill Restaurant

One of the standout features of the Peak Wine & Grill Restaurant is its remarkable setting, which offers panoramic mountain views that will leave you in awe.

The culinary team here really takes pride in crafting signature dishes using the freshest, locally sourced ingredients. The menu showcases a fusion of traditional Thai flavours and international culinary techniques, with an emphasis on grilled meats, seafood, and vibrant vegetarian options.

Whether you’re a seasoned foodie or just looking to treat yourself to an amazing meal, don’t miss the chance to indulge here, it’s got to be the best restaurant in Chiang Rai! It’s super affordable too, we had 3 courses (including wine) which only cost £25 each.

Chiang Rai Night Bazaar

When the sun sets in Chiang Rai, the city comes alive with the vibrant and bustling Night Bazaar. This lively market is located in the heart of the city and offers a unique opportunity to experience the heart and soul of Northern Thailand.

The Night Bazaar is a treasure trove if you’re looking to bring home some popular gifts from Thailand. The market is lined with countless stalls offering a range of goods, from traditional Thai handicrafts and clothing to unique souvenirs and accessories. Be prepared to haggle, as bargaining is an essential part of the shopping experience.

One of the best parts of the Night Bazaar is its enticing array of local street food. From the familiar pad thai and mango sticky rice to Northern Thai specialties like khao soi and sai ua (spicy sausage), the market is a haven for foodies looking for authentic Thai cuisine.

As you wander through the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar, you’ll be treated to live performances, including Traditional Thai dances, live music, and perhaps even Muay Thai, on the stages throughout the market. These performances create a buzzing atmosphere and provide a glimpse into the local culture and traditions.

With its lively atmosphere, diverse shopping opportunities, mouthwatering street food, and cultural performances, a visit to the Night Bazaar is a must for anyone venturing to Chiang Rai!

Where to Stay in Chiang Rai

Usually I’d be reluctant to book a 2-star hotel in Asia, however, after reading so many glowing reviews of Saikaew Resort, we went ahead and booked it.

For the entire week it only cost us around £100 and words cannot even describe how fantastic it was. I genuinely believe that this has to be the most peaceful yet cheap place to stay in Thailand!

The cottages are super spacious and overlook the most beautiful pond. We sat out on our balcony listening to the birds every night and the peacefulness was truly food for the soul.

At Saikaew Resort, the owners were always around to help and let us hang out with their adorable pets (countless cats & dogs who were extremely friendly). We looked forward to coming back to the resort each night just to play with them!

Saikaew Resort is also very conveniently situated, it’s just a few minutes away from Chiang Rai’s city centre, making it extremely easy to head into town every night for dinner. However, if you prefer to stay in, you can always order tasty Thai meals either from Saikaew Resort or the Grab app.

Overall, this resort was the bargain of the century and I’m already planning to come back and stay for several months!

However, if Saikaew Resort doesn’t tick all your boxes, you can easily find the best accommodation deals to suit your budget using Hotellook.

Check out all the highlights of Northern Thailand in 30 seconds:


Ultimately, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai are captivating parts of Northern Thailand that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. From stunning temples and historic landmarks to lush mountains and traditional hill tribe villages, both provinces offer a wide range of experiences that are difficult to match elsewhere in the world. Both Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai will leave you feeling enriched, inspired, and undeniably eager to return for another adventure. So pack your bags and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime!

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