Most people visiting Thailand for a holiday tend to visit the more trodden paths of Phuket, Bangkok, Pattaya and Koh Samui. However, one of the most intriguing places in Thailand to visit is the northeast. Many people see Chiang Mai as the most popular holiday destination in the north-east. But if you want to push it to its limits, we would suggest you partake in a Chiang Rai Holiday.
‘The northernmost of Thailand, the border of three countries, the land of Lanna kingdom, and home of Doi Tung Pagoda’ is Chiang Rai’s provincial motto. There is a number of touristic destinations nestled among the mountainous terrains. The region has a cool climate and friendly yet unique culture. Chiang Rai is an ideal place for visitors to experience the beauty of nature and culture of the region.
Here are some of the most popular places of interest for your Chiang Rai holiday to ensure you visit the most awe-inspiring places in
Wat Rong Khun (Temple)
The Wat Rong Khun was designed by the notable Thai painter-turned-architect, Chalermchai Kositpipat. He dedicated this temple to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Wat Rong Khun has now become one of the must-see places when enjoying a Chiang Rai holiday. More well-known among foreigners as the White Temple, Wat Rong Khun is an unconventional Buddhist temple in Chiang Rai. The main building is painted in white to symbolize Buddha’s purity, covered in mirrored mosaics, beautifully sparkling in the sun. The whole compound with nearby ponds full of colorful carps looks so picturesque, like a heaven-on-earth.
Directions: You will find that Wat Rong Khun is located at 772 km. on Paholyothin Road. Parking spaces are available at the entrance of the temple.
Singha Park Chiang Rai
Singha Park was formerly known as Boon Rawd Farm and is a popular destination in Chiang Rai. The golden Singha statue, Singha Park’s landmark, elegantly stands in the midst of the lush green hill, perfect for photos. Opposite to the statue, you will find the center decorated with flowers where food and beverages, including Singha’s products, are for sale.
You could book the tour car to show you around, but make sure you book in advance during the busy times of the year. A tour guide will take you around and pull over at certain points for taking photos. Inside the park, there are a lot of interesting sites. These include a tea plantation, paddy field, monkey apple farm, big ponds and Bhubirom Restaurant that features a beautiful 360-degree viewpoint overlooking the tea plantations along the hills.
Directions: Singha Park is located on 99 Moo 1, Denha – Dongmada Road, Mae Kon, Muang Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai 57000. Drive through Wat Rong Khun for another 6 km, and then turn right at the T-junction. Drive for another 2 km and you’ll see the entrance sign on the left-hand side.
Museum of Field Marshal Por. Piboonsongkram
Formerly built as a guesthouse for Field Marshal Por. Piboonsongkram, during his position as the prime minister, when he was on duty in Chiang Rai. This Swiss cottage-inspired house has now become the military museum-cum-learning center featuring war and military history. The museum has been divided into 4 different zones. Along the ground floor, you will find the history of the Chiang Rai military and the history of WWII arms.
On the second at the foyer, it displays an exhibition in homage to King Bhumibol Adulyadej. On the top floor at the left end is the former room of Field Marshal Por. Piboonsongkram, exhibiting his history and glorious biography. The center room on the east side shows the history of Chiang Rai and The Greater East Asia War. At the top floor at the right end, you can find the history of Thai people.
The surroundings are shady and evergreen, featuring English botanical gardens at the front. There’s a little coffee shop for visitors.
Directions: The Museum of Field Marshal Por. Piboonsongkram is located in the Doi Chomtong community, Vieng, Muang Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai. The entrance is in front of Mengrai Military Camp.
King Rama IX Footprint Pavilion
When you want to visit the most popular places during your Chiang Rai holiday, this is a unique point of interest. This one and only pavilion displaying HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s footprint is located at the Doi Yot, Mengrai Military Camp. This pavilion is also the place where people can learn about the history of the battle between the Royal Thai Army and the communists at Doi Yao – Doi Pha Mon, Amphoe Khun Tan.
On February 27, 1982, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej together with HM Queen Sirikit and the Royal Family visited the local people and his army at the Phraya Pipat base on Doi Yao. On that auspicious occasion, His Majesty King Bhumibol gave his footprint stamp on the plaster as morale for his people. The footprint is installed at the Pavilion in front of the Chiangrai Military Camp and at the hall on Doi Yot. Parking spaces are available, overlooking the beautiful views of Chiang Rai town.
Chui Fong Tea Plantation
Not only regarded as one of the leading entrepreneurs in the tea farm industry, but Chui Fong Tea Plantation is also set as the shooting scene in a popular TV soap opera. Chui Fong Tea Farm is managed under the corporation of Chui Fong Tea CO., LTD. This is one of the biggest tea producers and exporters in Chiang Rai shipping to various countries, mainly to Europe, USA, Taiwan, and Japan.
A number of tea farms have been beautifully planted along and up the mountain ridges, making the whole area picturesque. It’s just a little flaw that visitors are not allowed to visit the tea manufacturing plant. However, there’s a little tea shop selling hot & cold drinks from various kinds of tea, together with a wide range of desserts. One should not miss to order something and sit by the balcony. Make sure you watch the beautiful tea farms below as the site is located 1,200 meters above sea level, with the area of over 600-rai.
Directions: Chui Fong Tea Plantation is located on Baan Phrya Prai, Therdtai, Mae Fah Luang District, Chiang Rai (sharing the same entrance to Doi Mae Salong).
Doi Tung Mountain
Doi Tung was once notorious for the big land of deforestation for opium farms. That was before the late Her Royal Highness Srinakarindra, Princess Mother of Thailand, turned the whole land into a useable plantation for the benefit of highland locals. She named it the Doi Tung Development Royal Project.
Nowadays, Doi Tung is a popular destination for both Thai and foreigners on a Chiang Rai holiday. Mainly because of beautiful scenery with many interesting sites including the 10-rai Doi Tung Palace (Pra Tamnak Doi tung), the royal villa, situated on the slopes of the adjacent Pa Kluay Reservoir. Here you will find a wide variety of orchards that have been planted from places such as Sylvia, Petunia, Begonia, roses, and Datura.
At the center of the gardens, you will also find the statue of ‘Continuity’ designed by notable artist Mesiem Yipinsoi. One of the most popular attractions is the Phra That Doi Tung Holy Relic. This is an old religious site atop the mountain.
In terms of stunning natural beauty there are not many places in Thailand that can match a Chiang Rai holiday. If you want to learn more about the historic roots of the Lanna empire and the local Buddhist culture, a visit to Chiang Rai is essential.