Feb 23, 2024

Don’t go here, go here: Thailand


Shiona Walker

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Welcome to our new series, where we want to shine a light on some of the world’s lesser known destinations and help you off the beaten track. 

Chiang Mai is the largest city in Northern Thailand and is frequented by tourists, but would you consider Chiang Rai instead? As the northern most city in the country, Chiang Rai still retains Thai authenticity, mostly untouched and unspoiled by modern developments.

A blue painted temple in Mueang Chiang Rai by J.R. Bellemore

What can I do there?

The main attractions are a series of stunning temples. The wooden Wat Phra Kaew, set in an atmospheric spot surrounded by forest, is the city’s most revered Buddhist temple. It’s an active temple, monks live and study within its grounds, so you can see them if you visit. Next door is a museum housing Lanna artefacts dating from the 13th to 16th centuries.

Another thing not to miss is the famous White Temple (Wat Rong Khun). This is not real a temple but in fact an art installation.

The bright white ornate temple in Chiang Rai White Temple - Wat Rong Khun by Piya Nimityongskul

Chiang Rai is relatively a small city so the transportation facilities are limited. Most people either cycle or walk and for the far-off places they commute on the tuk-tuks, which are relatively affordable. 

Escape the city whilst you’re there

Nearly every guesthouse, hotel and travel agency in Chiang Rai offers hiking excursions in the hills, villages and countryside surrounding Chiang Rai, not to be missed if you want to Get Lost in the beauty of the region.

Horses grazes on grassy hills under a bright blue sky with a few clouds and further mountains in the background.

How do I get there?

The easiest way to get there is to fly. Chiang Rai is easily accessible, with its own airport offering daily flights to and from Bangkok, as well as airports across Thailand and some international destinations. It’s not connected by the railway, but there are also options for sleeper buses from Bangkok if you are looking for a more low cost option.

When to go?

We think the best time to visit is November-February. This is when the temperatures are still bearable for exploring and trekking, it’s also just after the rainy season which makes the greenery extra lush! 

Chiang Rai forest by Kirandeep Singh Walia


Community highlights 

Our Get Lost community members stressed that the flower festival is not to be missed - a stunning botanical garden is transformed with different themes every year. Others talked about how they loved the laid back feeling of Chiang Rai that it had less of a city feel than Chiang Mai. Join our community to share your own insights and get tips and trips for your next adventure. 


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