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In case you didn’t know, Chiang Rai is located in northern Thailand and, compared to its sister town Chiang Mai, it’s a much more laid-back city that’s perfect for a relaxing yet memorable getaway. Yes, locations like Krabi or Bangkok are great and everything, but if you prefer somewhere less crowded and a tad bit cooler (temperature wise), here are some reasons you need to visit Chiang Rai:

1. Baan Dam a.k.a. the Black House of Chiang Rai

Despite the name, Baan Dam doesn’t refer to just one building or house, but a collection of structures with varying shapes, sizes and designs, all of which were designed by the national artist of Thailand – Thawan Duchanee.

What to expect:

  • Immerse yourself among the diverse, outlandish, thought-provoking, playful yet grim designs of Thawan by venturing through approximately 40 different structures
  • Spot the unique, out-of-this-world materials used by Thawan including animal skins, bones and more to create these structures
  • Have a blast interpreting Thawan’s art for yourself and what each structure means while taking a ton of photos

Location: 333 Moo 13, Tambon Nang Lae, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, 57100, Thailand

2. Forget about your Monday blues by visiting the Blue Temple a.k.a. Wat Rong Seua Ten

Didn’t think it’d look that blue, didja?

Completed in 2016, this temple is still fairly new and definitely not something you can find anywhere else. What’s more, compared to other temples in Chiang Rai, the blue temple’s style of artwork and the structure itself looks and feels a lot more modern and contemporary.

What to expect:

  • Admire the intricate details of the paintings all across the walls and ceilings of the temple
  • Check out the larger than life Buddha statue situated inside the Great Hall
  • Because it’s still new, there aren’t as many visitors yet and entrance is free too

Location: 306 Moo 2, Rim Kok, Chiang Rai, 57100, Thailand

3. Get lost in beautiful Singha Park

Owned by Boon Rawd Brewery, the company that produces Singha Beer, this park has everything (except beer). In fact, there are so many different attractions to check out, you’ll probably end up spending an entire day here. What’s more, because the soil here is so fertile, it was once used to grow barley for beer.

What to expect:

  • The fertile soil is now home to many different types of flowers, tea plantations, fruit orchards and more
  • You can opt to walk, run, cycle or even hitch a ride on the trams to get around this park (Note: The park is huuuge so you might want to consider cycling or taking the tram)
  • There’s also a petting zoo for all you animal lovers out there where you can feed zebras and giraffes as well
  • If you’re hungry, drop by the restaurant perched on an elevated hill for some authentic Thai food while getting an amazing view of park and plantations below

Location: Mae Kon, Meuang Chiang Rai District, 57000, Thailand

4. Can’t get enough of tea plantations and hilltop cafes? Drop by Choui Fong Tea Plantation

Located on the highlands of Chiang Rai some 4,000 feet above sea level, not only will you be able to get a gorgeous view here, but the cooling weather will definitely make it an enjoyable experience too. Also, this plantation is actually larger than Singha Park.

What to expect:

  • Drop by the Choui Fong Tea Cafe for snacks and delicious beverages while enjoying a 360-degree view of the plantation
  • Stroll along the plantation and watch workers carefully pick the leaves by hand. If you have a good nose, you’ll probably be able to smell the scent of Assum, Oolong, green and even black tea leaves in the air
  • Take countless photos and shop for fresh tea leaves picked from the plantation itself

Location: 97 Moo 8, Pasang, Mae Chan, Chiang Rai, 57110, Thailand

5. Step into nature when you visit Doi Tung mountain

I mean, who wouldn’t want to visit a mountain, right?

What to do:

  • Make sure you visit the 10-acre large Mae Fah Luang Botanical Gardens that was beautifully set up by Her Royal Highness Princess Srinagarindra (the late King’s mother)
  • Check out the Princess’ royal residence by dropping by the Royal Villa and be inspired by her life and what it was like to live like royalty
  • For the thrill-seekers, make sure you give the Doi Tung Tree Top Walk a try where you’ll be able to get a bird’s eye view of the forest below and overlook trees, dams and even get a clearer view of distant mountains

Location: Daen Lao Range, Chiang Rai

6. Want some affordable yet authentic Thai food? Drop by the Chiang Rai night market

  • From fried insects, hot pots, to authentic Thai dishes, you can get them all here at affordable prices! (Most of the foods here range between 20 and 100 baht. That’s approximately RM2 to RM12 only!)
  • Eat and be entertained by traditional Thai performances
  • They also serve beer here! Besides edible goods, you can shop for clothes, fabrics, household items and more!

Location: Off Phaholyothin Road, Chiang Rai

7. Visit the most rustic, beautiful cafe you’ve ever seen at Chivit Thamma Da Coffee

Located next to a river and surrounded by gorgeous flora and fauna, it’s definitely an experience not to be missed, especially for all you cafe-hoppers out there!

What to expect:

  • English-country-style decor complete with high ceilings, vintage artefacts, a piano, water fountain, classic tables and chairs, even glass roof and windows!
  • You can opt to sit outdoors in the riverside garden or in the air-conditioned glass house
  • European style menu items with a unique Asian/Thai twist plus a wide range of alcoholic beverages. Yummy!

Location: 179 Moo 2, Rim Kok, Chiang Rai, 57100, Thailand

8. Teleport all the way to Japan when you drop by Ryokan Cafe

Who says you need to travel all the way to Japan to experience the true Japanese culture? You can do it all right here in Chiang Rai!

What to expect:

  • A traditional Japanese experience awaits you at this cafe, complete with tatami mats and shared onsens
  • Tons of authentic and affordable Matcha infused food and beverages served in beautiful ceramic teaware
  • Feel free to wander around the Ryokan Farm and check out their paddy fields or even opt to stay overnight in this quaint Japanese spot

Location: 134 Moo 4, Ban San Pu Loei, Tambon Buasali Ampher Maelo, Chiang Rai, Thailand

How incredibly amazing do these places look? So much to do, eat and see! The best part is, they’re all found nearby Chiang Rai, Thailand. Don’t have to worry about long or expensive flights!

Well, if reading this is giving you wanderlust and you’re thinking of dropping by Chiang Rai, you’ll be glad to know that AirAsia flies direct to Chiang Rai and they currently have an awesome year-end promo for you.

Source: j.ontheroad.to.nowhere & marcfoery

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