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How to spend 2 days in Chiang Rai, Thailand?

Visiting Chiang Rai in northern Thailand is part of your next trip to Thailand. Discover how to spend 2 dream days in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Between the Golden Triangle and some of the country’s most beautiful temples.

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The northern Thai city of Chiang Rai is still slightly overlooked by travelers compared to Chiang Mai or Pai. Between magnificent temples and breathtaking nature, Chiang Rai is a city to discover!

When we think of Chiang Rai, we usually think of the White Temple. But the city and region of Chiang Rai are brimming with activities and little-known places to discover! Easily accessible from Chiang Mai and Bangkok, Chiang Rai is the place to be!

Discover in this article how to spend 2 days in Chiang Rai, Thailand, and many other tips for a dream stay!

picture of the street in Chiang Rai, Thailand

2 days in Chiang Rai, Thailand: the perfect itinerary

If you spend 2 days in Chiang Rai, you’ll already have plenty of time to discover some of the most beautiful places in this northern Thai city. Of course, if you have the opportunity to stay longer, you won’t be disappointed by the scenery and the region.

Personally, I stayed for 2 days and thoroughly enjoyed my time in Chiang Rai. The magnificent temples are, in my opinion, some of the most beautiful I’ve seen in Thailand.

I’ve decided to share with you a 2-day itinerary, as this is often the time most people have to discover Chiang Rai! Enough said, let’s get down to business!

Day 1 – White Temple and Blue Temple

My short 2-day stay in Chiang Rai begins with a 3-hour drive from Chiang Mai. I arrived in the late morning. I was able to drop my bag straight off at my hostel, the Baan Mai Kradan Hostel, which I highly recommend. My first impressions of Chiang Rai are pretty good, a city a little quieter than its cousin Chiang Mai.

My first visit of the day is to the White Temple, Wat Rong Khun, about 15km south of Chiang Rai. To get there, I decide to take the local bus to Chiang Mai’s terminal number 1. The journey takes around 20 minutes and costs 10 baht per person.

The White Temple, or Wat Rong Khun, is one of Thailand’s most beautiful temples, unique in its architecture and color. The temple was renovated by a local artist at the end of the 20th century, hence its somewhat fanciful architecture. The main temple is made up of several parts, each with a specific meaning. I really enjoyed walking around the complex. Don’t miss the golden temple next door in the same complex. Entrance to the temple costs 100 baht per person.

Find out more about the White Temple in this article!

in 2 days in Chiang Rai you should check the white temple
The white temple in Chiang Rai, which is one of the best things to do there

After this visit, I headed back towards the center of Chiang Rai to discover the blue temple, Wat Rong Suea Ten. In all honesty, I’ve never seen a temple as beautiful as this one. First and foremost for its color and all the details that make this place a must-see during a stay in Chiang Rai. The temple’s blue color symbolizes purity, wisdom and non-attachment to material objects. I was lucky enough to visit at the end of the day, with very few people and incredible light! Entrance to the temple is free!

To round off the day in the best possible way, I went to Chiang Rai’s Night Bazaar Market, the best place to sample local cuisine on a budget. There are plenty of stalls to suit all tastes.

beautiful statut at the blue temple in Chiang Rai
Blue temple of Chiang Rai in Thailand

Day 2 – Big Bhuda

For this 2nd and last day in Chiang Rai, I decided to head for the temple of the Goddess of Mercy, Wat Huay Pla Kang, which lies to the north of the city. The easiest solution for me was to take a Grab Bike for 60 baht.

Once there, I discovered the magnificent statue of the Goddess of Mercy, a small white temple and a Chinese pagoda. This place is really worth the detour! I recommend taking the stairs to get to the foot of the statue. Yes, there is a mini-bus that will take you there. It’s also possible to go up to the head of the statue for an incredible view of the Chiang Rai region. The elevator costs 40 baht per person.

I then wandered around the various temples in the complex. I found the small white temple very similar to the large white temple I’d seen the day before. The Chinese pagoda houses a magnificent wooden Buddha and offers a taste of the culture of this neighboring country.

Once my visit was over, I took a Grab back to the city center and let myself be guided through Chiang Rai’s narrow streets. Don’t miss the famous clock tower in the middle of a crossroads. After a quick stop at a street-food stall, it was already time to head to my hostel, Baan Mai Kradan Hostel, to collect my bag before catching my bus back to Bangkok.

Getting around Chiang Rai

There are several options. It all depends on what you want to do when you get there.

Cab – Grab

Grab, which is Asia’s equivalent of Uber, makes it easy to get from point A to point B in Chiang Rai. You have the “car” and/or “motobike” option, which I recommend if you’re traveling alone.

You’ll also find numerous cabs and tuc-tucs all over the city. Prices can vary according to the customer’s head, so be sure to agree with the driver before you get in.

Public transport

Personally, I don’t have much experience of public transport in Chiang Rai. I’ve only once taken the bus to the White Temple, located a few kilometers from the center of Chiang Rai.

Very easy to use and above all super-cheap, at around 10 baht for 30 min, I can only recommend the bus to get to the White Temple.

Scooter rental

Scooter hire generally costs between 200 and 250 baht per day. This option is perfect for exploring Chiang Rai’s surroundings with total freedom. The roads are fairly well maintained. I found that there was slightly less traffic than in other parts of Thailand.

Where to stay in Chiang Rai?

Chiang Rai is a city full of accommodation to suit all budgets. Whether you’re looking for luxury accommodation with a swimming pool or a youth hostel, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Hostel – Baan Mai Kradan Hostel

This is the hostel where I stayed. I can’t recommend it highly enough! The common areas are really nice and friendly. The staff are great! They also have private rooms if needed!

$ – Sleepy House

The Sleepy House is a small hotel located near the Night Market, with a modern design. All rooms are en suite and air-conditioned.

$$ – Nak Nakara Hotel

Located in the center of Chiang Rai, this hotel is a haven of peace in the heart of the city. The Nak Nakara Hotel boasts a magnificent swimming pool, perfect for a refreshing swim!

$$$ – Meridien Chiang Rai Resort

Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort is a haven of peace by the river. The hotel boasts a magnificent infinity pool!

Where to eat in Chiang Rai

There are many places to eat in Chiang Rai, as well as a large number of cafés where you can relax for a while. Of course, it’s impossible to visit all these places in 2 days in Chiang Rai, Thailand. As I like to eat locally, I can only recommend the Night Bazaar Market. You’ll find plenty of street food stalls to suit all tastes and at very low prices!

I recommend you try the Khao Soi (noodle soup) or the Gaeng Hang Lay curries. Both dishes are specialties of northern Thailand!

Here are a few recommendations from other travelers that I’ve seen or not tried!

Surf and Turf
Fika Caffee
Moommai Restaurant
Ran Lab Sanam Keela

How to get to Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is easily accessible from many parts of Thailand, and even from Laos. Here’s a quick rundown of the possibilities, whether by bus or plane.

Many people also discover Chiang Rai via day trips from Chiang Mai. These tours usually include a stop at the famous White Temple, as well as other places of interest in the city.

From Chiang Mai

This is the most common route used by travelers. The journey from Chiang Mai takes around 3 hours and is possible throughout the day. The journey costs between 5-10 CHF/EURO depending on the bus you choose.

Click here to book your tickets now!

From Bangkok

As Chiang Rai has its own airport, it’s possible to fly there from Bangkok. The flight takes around 1h30 and arrives fresh in Chiang Rai.

Option 2 is to take the night bus between the two cities. The journey costs around 24 CHF/EURO and takes between 10 and 12 hours, depending on traffic and the company chosen.

Personally, I chose the latter option and everything went very smoothly. I recommend you check prices and available buses on the website.

From Laos

Another popular option for backpackers is to travel from Laos. There is a bus route from Luang Prabang that takes around 16-18 hours, depending on traffic. The other option is to take the Slow Boat. The journey is a little longer, however. It takes 2 days to connect the two places.

Book your bus tickets here.

This is the platform I use to book all my bus tickets in Asia. I can’t hide the fact that there’s sometimes a small difference between the price (1-2 CHF/EURO) on 12.go compared with the companies’ direct sites. I’ve tried several times to go directly through the companies, but the sites are very poorly translated or not translated at all into English…

I hope this 2-day itinerary in Chiang Rai, Thailand has given you plenty of ideas and, above all, the desire to discover this magnificent region!

Want to discover Thailand?

🏞 Chiang Rai I How to spend 2 days in Chiang Rai – Visit the White Temple of Chiang Rai
🐘 Pai I The best things to do
🗺️ Itineraries I
🇹🇭 General information I How to move around Thailand – Visiting Thailand as a solo traveler

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