Visit Chiang RaiCities, Islands and Provinces

Chiang Rai: travel guide to discover the city and its surroundings

Chiang Rai is a welcoming province in northwest Thailand, located in the mountains north of Chiang Mai; it has everything to seduce lovers of trekking, mountain tribes, and good coffee.

See also:
What to do in Chiang Rai: guide of activities and visits
Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai White Temple


Chiang Rai from the city
Aerial view of the city

Chiang Rai, which translates as “major city” is the name of the province and the city, provincial capital.

It is a popular place for the hospitality of its inhabitants and its simple but authentic character.

She is known as “Chiang Mai’s little sister.”


situation of chiang raiThe region located in the far north of the country is mainly composed of jungle and mountains.

The city, built on the banks of the Kok River, is 780 km from the capital, Bangkok, and 200 km from its big sister, Chiang Mai.

It is one of the gateways to the Golden Triangle or Tri-border region because it is adjacent to Laos and Burma.

History of Chiang Rai

Founded by King Mengrai in 1262, Chiang Rai was the first capital of the Lanna kingdom, long before Chiang Mai.

After having been a part of the Lanna kingdom for centuries, Chiang Rai became a province of Thailand in 1910


Femme Akha, Tha Ton
Akha Woman in traditional costume

It is a multicultural city of 200,000 inhabitants, 12% of whom come from mountain tribes, such as the Akha, Karen, Padaung, Hmong, Lisu, and Méo…

The province has a population of 1.1 million.

The climate in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai has a humid and dry tropical climate, the monsoon season runs from April to September, but it rains less than in the southern plains.

From October to March it rarely rains, the nights are cold and the days hot but bearable.

From December to February, it can be very cold in the evening, with nights at 13°c in the city.

Find a Hotel in Chiang Rai

You will find the best quality/price ratio by comparing offers from the main booking sites via our partner

Practical Information

Tourist information office

There is a tourist information stand at the station and a TAT (Thai Tourist Office) office located thanon Singhaklai.

You will find many brochures in English on the activities to be done in the region as well as maps of the city, province, and bus schedules.

The TAT office is open every day from 8:30 am to 4 pm


The post office is located on Thanon Utrakit (see map below).
It is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm from Monday to Friday and from 9 am to 12 pm on Saturday and Sunday.


The city has three hospitals, one of which is semi-private and modern, where doctors speak English:

Overbrook Hospital located in the city center in the street (thanon in Thai) Singhaclai.
They have a website:

Silver changes

You will find many distributors and exchange counters in town.


You can get an idea of the prices or book your ticket with

Powered by 12Go Asia system

Join and leave Chiang Rai

By bus

There are two bus stations in Chiang Rai, the old bus station in the city center and the new one seven km to the south (visible on the full map of the city here).

Many shuttles connect the two stations, it will cost you 15 baht in a pickup taxi (Song Taew), but after 5 pm you will have to take a Tuk Tuk or a taxi and pay 50 baht.

The former bus station mainly serves the cities of Chiang Rai province and also some cities in Chiang Mai province.

The new bus station serves the main cities of Thailand.

The Chiang Rai – Bangkok journey takes about 11 hours; there are many buses, the buses arrive at Mo Chit station.

The Chiang Rai – Chiang Mai journey takes about 3 hours, there are also many buses.

The Chiang Rai-Sukhothai / Phitsanulok trip takes about 7 hours.

By train

There is no train; the nearest station is at Chiang Mai.

By plane

Chiang Rai has an international airport: Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport, located 10 km north of the city.

The main low-cost airlines are present: Nok Air, Thai Smile, Thai Air Asia, and Thai Lion Air, and the company Bangkok Airways.
The flight Bangkok – Chiang Rai lasts about 1h30.

Traveling in the city

In Song-taew

A songtaew is a pickup truck transformed into a collective taxi, blue on Chiang Rai, which makes it possible to travel economically.

You indicate your route, and it takes you there while taking other customers who are going in the same direction.

You can also use it privately as a tuk-tuk by arranging with the driver.

In Tuk-tuk

A faster but more expensive way, you should not hesitate to bargain with the driver.

In Sam Lo (rickshaw)

A practical and ecological way to make short trips

By bike or motorcycle

You will find many places to rent a bike or motorbike in town, most guesthouses offer some, but you can see:

ST Motorcycle: located in the city center, they have the widest choice of motorcycles.
Chiang-Rai Big Bike Rental: located 869/79 Soi Thai Viwat.

See also:
Transport in Thailand, travel to the country of smiling

Photos of Chiang Rai

Video: presentation of the city

A short video to see how the city looks like:

Chiang Rai maps

City center map

Map of Chiang Rai City Center

You can find other maps on the forum: Chiang-Rai maps

See also:
What to do in Chiang Rai: activities and visits guide
Chiang Saen north of Chiang Rai, discover the golden triangle
Travel to Thailand, the complete guide to prepare your trip

Source: Wikitravel Photos : Chiang-Rai seen from above : Bee; Golden Clock Tower: Roundtheworld, Statue of King Mangrai: Oatz; Emerald Buddha Statue: JFL; Wat Rong Khun: AN: D; Golden Clock Tower: Aranas; White Temple wat Rong Khun: NorthThailander; Bandaam Museum Black House : Guswandhi; Guardian of the Klong Wiang Temple: Jpatokal : Wat Ming Muang : Jpatokal : Jade Buddha : Elgaard ; Entry of Wat Sing : Elgaard ; Chiang-rai River : Jtaubrey ; Night Bazar : Jpatokal



Settled in Thailand since a few years (with trips to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia), I love this country and its inhabitants, the real country of Smiles! Sorry for any translation errors that may occur. Feel free to mention them in the comments, I will correct them. Thank you.

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