Chiang Rai is another exciting destination in northern Thailand that you can reach by motorcycle or car from Chiang Mai. It is filled with beautiful attractions, including mountains, view sights, cultural villages, and art places. Today, we take you on religious and ascending journey to the temples in Chiang Rai. Let’s go check-in!
The main temples visited by foreign tourists in Chiang Rai when they rent a scooter or motorcycle in Chiang Mai from us are the White Temple of Wat Rong Khun, the Blue Temple of Wat Rong Suea Ten, the Black House Museum, and Wat Huay Pla Kang. They look the most unusual and impressive, and therefore the eyes of tourists in the first place are directed there.
However, in the province of Chiang Rai, there are many more amazing temples of important historical significance to local Buddhism. Moreover, some of these temples were built when Thailand did not exist. Their construction was the reason for the further development of cities, which then played an important role in the emergence of the modern Kingdom of Thailand.
On this map, we have marked the religious sites described in our guidebook and visually indicated the directions and road numbers leading to temples beyond the visual area of this map. In addition, each temple description has a link to a Google map, allowing you to use your phone or tablet to find exact directions from wherever you are. This is very convenient.
Also, in the descriptions of some temples, we’ve included links to our travel guides that tell you more about these religious buildings, including the hours of operation and entrance fees.
The most famous temple in Chiang Rai province, and even in the north of Thailand, Wat Rong Khun is undoubtedly the most beautiful white temple in the kingdom of Thailand.
It is not the only white temple in Thailand. Still, it is Wat Rong Khun that is the most famous of all the white temples due to its original design and the fact that it was created by the most famous Thai artist, namely Chalermchai Kositpipat (เฉลิมชัยโฆษิตพิพัฒน์).
It is also the most touristy place in Chiang Rai, benefiting from impeccable marketing. So when you type “Chiang Rai” into the Google search bar, the first picture you see is this white temple.
Read our travel guide about Wat Rong Khun
Address: 60, Moo 1, Phahonyothin Rd, Pa O Don Chai, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai, 57000
Opening hours: from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Less famous than the other temples in downtown Chiang Rai, Wat Ming Muang is nonetheless a pure architectural masterpiece.
Wat Ming Muang is a historic monastery founded in 1262 by Queen Maha Thewi Usa Payako (มหา เทวี อุษาปายะโค), wife of Mengrai the Great (พญามัายััยั), founder of the Lanna Kingdom and Chiang Rai City.
This monastery is famous for being located on the site of the old city gate, and its stupa houses the relics of Queen Wah Ming Chom Muang ( อ็ัวะมิ่ง จอม เมือง ), mother of Mengrai the Great.
Many centuries after its founding, it was slightly abandoned. Still, in 1870 the monastery building and surrounding areas were restored by the Shan peoples, hence the unconventional style of Ubosot in Thailand and its rich decoration on the outside.
Address: 2415 Ruangnakron Rd, Tambon Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai, 57000
Opening hours: from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Located in the heart of Chiang Rai, Wat Phra Kaew is one of northern Thailand’s most important Buddhist monasteries.
According to legend, in 1434, the stupa located on the temple grounds split after a lightning strike, revealing to the world the famous Emerald Buddha, the most revered image of Buddha in the Kingdom of Thailand, which since the late 18th century was located in the eponymous temple of Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok.
In 1978 the temple was designated a Category III monastery and is now under royal patronage.
Read our travel guide about Wat Phra Kaew
Address: 19, Moo 1, Trairat Rd, Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai, 57000
Located just 200 meters from Wat Phra Keo (วัดพระแก้ว), Wat Phra Singh is another prominent temple in the center of Chiang Rai. However, some travelers confuse it with the Wat Phra Singh Woramahawihan temple of the same name located in Chiang Mai.
According to belief, these two temples have the same name because the sacred image of Buddha, which today is in Chiang Mai’s Wat Phra Sing, was once located in Chiang Rai. And when the original image was moved to Chiang Mai, the temple to which it was moved was also named after the Buddha image.
Phra is the Thai word for priest or priest and is also used to refer to images of the Buddha. Singh means lion, but it may be a corruption of the Thai word for Sri Lanka, where the Buddha image is said to have originated.
Since the people of Thailand predominantly use descriptive names, when the Phra Singh Buddha image was moved from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai, the Chiang Mai temple was named after the sacred relic. Just like the temple in Chiang Rai.
When visiting this temple, note the teak wood doors with bas-relief. The design of the temple doors is the work of Tawan Duchani (ถวัลย์ ดัชนี), the famous creator of the Baan Dam Museum (บ้านดำ), or black house (but often translated as a black temple).
Note that we do not mention the Black House in this guide because it is an architectural museum, not a temple. Nevertheless, you can include it in your trip. Read our guide about the Baan Dam Museum. Also, if you are interested in more than just religious sites, you can check out our Chiang Rai travel guide.
Through the four mythological animals (elephant, Garuda, Naga, lion), these bas-reliefs symbolize the four elements, respectively – earth, wind, water, and fire. In the features of the animals, you will recognize the unique style of Thawan Duchanee.
Address: 486/2, Tambon Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai, 57000
Opening hours: from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Founded nearly six centuries ago in the center of Chiang Rai, the Wat Klang Wiang Temple is less visited than some of its neighbors. Nevertheless, its modern Lanna-style Viharn is noteworthy.
It was built in 1432 and was initially named Wat Chan Ta Lok (Wat Chan Lok). After the survey from the perimeter, it was found that this temple was right in the center of the Chiang Rai city district, hence the name Wat Klang Wiang. The temple is decorated with contemporary Lan Na art, and it is where the Sadue Mueang Chiang Rai (lit. City’s umbilicus or City Pillar Shrine) is located.
The golden pediment facing the entrance is decorated with many floral motifs. On the side of the building, appreciate the sophistication of the louvered windows. Under each one, you’ll notice the presence of animals in bas-reliefs. They were not chosen by chance, as they are Chinese astrological signs.
If the exterior already entices you, the interior can only fascinate you, especially the presence of many tung (ตุง), these elaborately embroidered flags, one of the emblems of the Lanna Kingdom.
Among other things, the temple grounds also include a white stupa called Phra That Chang Kham, built in 1995.
Its hexagonal shape narrows as it stretches toward the sky, and niches housing golden Buddhas extend almost to its full height.
As for the base of the stupa, following the influence of Sri Lankan stupas and remnants of the Lanna Kingdom, it includes elephants, a symbol of stability.
Address: Wat Klang Wiang Chiang Rai, Uttarakit Rd., Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai, 57000
Opening hours: from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
One of the most beautiful temples in Chaing Rai. In the past, the location here used to have tigers jumping across the canal, hence the name Rong Suea Ten. The temple is painted blue and decorated with detailed Buddhist art designed by Phutta Kabkaew (an apprentice of Chaloemchai Kositphiphat). Inside lies the Phra Buddha Ratchamongkol Bodi Tri Lokanath, the pearl white statue of Lord Buddha, and there are painted walls that tell the story of the Buddha as well. Other attractions include a large white Buddha image behind the vihara, five Buddha relics of Ket Kaew Chulamanee, the 20-meter Chedi, and the Paya Nak sculpture in the front.
Read our travel guide about Wat Rong Suea Ten.
Address: 306, Moo 2, Maekok Rd, Tambon Rim Kok, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai, 57100
Opening hours: from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Temple with outstanding architecture, sculptures, and paintings, located on a gentle hill in the village of Huai Pla Kang. The highlight is Fob Chok Dhamma Chedi, a 9-story pointed pagoda built in Chinese style. There are dragons on either side of the stairs leading to the chedi. The temple is surrounded by small pagodas according to the 12 zodiac signs. Inside is a large goddess Kuan Yin, carved from fragrant sandalwood from several countries. You will also find here numerous images of the Buddha and various arhats. And, of course, the gigantic 69-meter statue of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, inside which there is an observation deck with a beautiful view of the picturesque surroundings, will not go unnoticed.
Read our travel guide about Wat Huay Pla Kang.
Address: 553, Moo 3, Tambon Mae Yao, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai, 57100
Opening hours: from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
An important temple on top of Mount Doi Tung, where the Buddhist relics of Phra That Doi Tung are kept. Two small bell-shaped chedis, erected over the relics, were located side by side.
According to the beliefs of the Lanna people, this temple brings good luck to those born in the Year of the Pig. Since this temple has absorbed the traditions of not only the Lanna peoples but also the traditions of Laotians and Burmese, every year during the festival, many tourists come here from Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar.
Read our travel guide about Top 7 Doi Tung Attraction.
Address: Wat Phra That Doi Tung, Huai Khrai, Mae Sai District, Chiang Rai, 57220
A few kilometers north of downtown Chiang Rai, away from the tourist routes, is the Wat Khua Khrae temple. Although it is not easy to find, it is nevertheless a magnificent and original temple.
The massive pediment of the viharn surprises with its marble exterior and the use of stainless steel combined with reliefs and gilding.
The sign above the entrance indicates that this viharn is dedicated to King Mangrai, who lived in the 13th century, the founder of the city of Chiang Rai and the Kingdom of Lanna.
The white Buddha, located here, reaches 10 meters in height! With his hands, he performs dharmachakra mudra. This mudra symbolizes one of the most important moments in the Buddha’s life when he preached his first sermon to his companions after his Enlightenment at Deer Park in Sarnath.
You will also find a square stupa with elaborate architecture, with golden statues of the Buddha at its base. You can also see two other buildings decorated with bas-reliefs, whose halls are decorated with colorful modern paintings and in which religious ceremonies are held.
Address: Moo 1, Tambon Ban Du, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai, 57100
Opening hours: from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A beautiful temple located on the hill of Mon Sen Keo. Built in 2006 by the temple’s abbot Phra Kruba Ariyachat Ariyajitto, and his disciples. A beautiful structure filled with Buddhist art and applied Lanna architecture. Inside the temple are many religious statues and sacred objects. Most prominent is the large, gleaming gold statue of Kruba Sriwichai.
Address: 191, Moo 11, Mae Suai District, Chiang Rai 57180
Opening hours: from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
This is probably the most important temple of Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai Province. Here rises a large bell-shaped chedi in the mixed Mon and Lanna style, 88 meters high and 24 meters wide at its base, built by ruler Saen Phu, the founder of Chiang Saen and son of Phaya Chai Songkhram, king of Chiang Rai. The original viharn inside the temple is decorated with precious woods in the Lanna style. There are also beautifully sculpted statues of Buddha.
Address: 635, Phaholyothin Road, Wiang, Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai, 57150
Opening hours: 24/7
This temple contrasts with other places of worship in Chiang Rai, firstly because of its location and architecture, and its approach to Buddhism with Chinese influence.
Located on a flowery hill, you enter the temple by a beautiful staircase leading to the main pagoda. It is dedicated to Ji Gong (พระอาจารย์เต้าจี้), a Chinese Buddhist monk and popular figure of Chinese folklore from the Southern Song dynasty who lived in the late 12th century.
Ji Gong was known for his eccentricity, some would say his madness, and for punishing villains, encouraging people to do good, and helping those in danger and in need.
As an object of worship in China, his fame seems to have crossed the border, as some statues are found in Chinese temples and shrines in the Kingdom of Thailand.
Address: Moo 15, Ban Wang Chomphu, Muang Kham, Phan District, Chiang Rai, 57120
Dominating the area of Phan (เมืองพาน) in the south of Chiang Rai province, located at the crossroads of the first Thai kingdoms (Sukhothai, Lanna, Phayao), the Wat Prath Chom Wae Temple stands out from afar for its reclining Buddha.
This Buddha is between 40 and 50 meters long! It is impressive in size. Another giant Buddha, but in a standing position, is at the top of the hill. Inside Ubosot are ornate columns and the main Buddha installed on the central altar.
The paintings of the Buddha’s life, painted on the interior walls of the building, are unique. Not so much by subject matter but by the characters’ features, reminiscent more of India than Thailand. In particular, there is a good depiction of Siddhartha Gautama as a child, which is atypical of Thai Buddhism.
And, of course, the stunning views of the picturesque surroundings will impress travelers.
Address: 1, Moo 11, Mueang Phan, Phan District, Chiang Rai, 57120
The most convenient way to get from Bangkok to Chiang Rai is by domestic flight. You can also take an overnight bus. The buses run regularly and will take you to your destination in about 12 hours.
The most convenient and affordable way to travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is by taking a bus. The journey time is around 4–5 hours, depending on the company and route you choose. Alternatively, you can also take a mini van or taxi with driver. Also, you can rent motorbike in our rental shop.
The most popular temples in Chiang Rai include Wat Rong Khun (White Temple), Wat Rong Suea Ten (Blue Temple), Black House Museum, Wat Huay Pla Kang and Wat Phra Kaew. All are worth visiting for their unique architectural beauties.
Before visit Chiang Rai Province, be sure to check our rental rates and read our bike travel tips. You can contact us to book a motorbike on Contact page. Don’t forget that Chiang Rai Province is full of mountainous and hilly roads with long and steep slopes. Therefore, we strongly recommend reading the article on why even experienced riders can have brake failure. See you!
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