The sleepy and chilled out Northern ‘city’ of Chiang Rai offers some of the best temples in Thailand including the famous White Temple, the Black House (Baandam Museum) and the modern but tranquil Blue Temple. Chiang Rai tours also include trips to the Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet.
Above: Big Buddha Chiang Rai is not on many of the existing Chiang Rai tours but is increasing in popularity.
I’d recommend a stay of at least 3-5 days in Chiang Rai. 2-3 days is doable if you book on some of the popular Chiang Rai tours. I wouldn’t recommend a day trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, it’s too far (3 hours each way).
Chiang Rai Tours – Best Temples of Chiang Rai
It is possible to see the White Temple, Black House and Blue Temple in one day. The following tour combines this with a trip to the highest mountain in Thailand and a visit to the Karen Hill tribes.
In the Chiang Rai city and temples tour, you will visit the White temple, Wat Phra Kaew (where the Emerald Buddha was discovered in 1434) and Wat Doi Tong, home to the naval pillar. It’s more easy going than the above ‘Amazing temples of Chiang Rai’ tour, as it’s just half a day (compared to 15 hours for the tour that also visits the Karen Hill Tribes).
Chiang Rai Temples Private Tour from Chiang Mai
If you have very limited time and must see Chiang Rai in a day, book the Chiang Rai temples private tour. It will be a good three hours travel each way, but this tour includes lunch and a private guide. You will see all of the main temples – Wat Sang Kaew Photiyarn, Wat Rong Khun, Wat Huai Pla Kung and Wat Suea Ten (Blue Temple). The whole trip is 13 hours in total. However, it’s well worth it if you can’t spend two or three days in Chiang Rai.
Looking for a Longer Trip around Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai?
This four day private guided tour includes all the best temples of Chiang Rai. It adds on the best temples of Chiang Mai including the beautiful Wat Doi Suthep. Click on the image for a full itinerary.
Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is so important as it will help you with emergencies and unexpected costs on your trip. Make sure that you declare any pre-existing health conditions so that you are covered for those. Check your cover for accidents and medical care and also lost baggage or getting things stolen. Remember to report as soon as something goes wrong on your trip because some travel insurance companies require you to report something that you want to claim for within 24 hours. Read the fine print carefully when you sign up. I always recommend World Nomads. You can get a free quote here:
What to wear when Visiting Temples in Thailand
What should you wear when visiting temples in Thailand? Dress conservatively when visiting temples in Thailand. Wear trousers or a long skirt and cover shoulders.
A scarf is a good thing to have handy in Thailand as you can use it to cover yourself if you are wearing a vest top or maxi dress. Men should avoid shorts and wear t-shirts or a smart-casual shirt.
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You will need to remove your shoes before going up the temple steps so wear some comfortable sandals or shoes that you can slip on and off. Birkenstocks are a good option.