Historic Chiang Rai is situated at the heart of a region which offers a varied choice of activities. City walking and bicycle tours take in historic temples while a boat cruise on the Kok River is a delight. Elephant riding, adventure treks and zipline rides await the intrepid. Traditional massages and Thai cooking courses are the other two in-demand activities. More details about each of the activities follows.
Last Updated: October 2018
Boat trips on the Kok River
The Kok River is one of the main northern Thai waterways and is a magnificent sight as it flows through Chiang Rai. A cruise on the river is a popular activity for visitors and affords passengers glimpses of pristine landscapes. Longtail boats for trips on the Kok are found at a pier close to Mae Fah Luang Bridge. Unless taking the boat all the way to Tha Ton, passengers generally have to hire the whole boat for the cruise. The most popular destination for the cruises is Karen Ruammit Village. Elephant riding and authentic Karen hilltribe houses are the highlights of Ruammit.
Karen Ruammit Village: M. 2, T. Mae Yao, A. Muang, Chiang Rai 57000 | Open: 08:00-16:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 53 737 359-11, +66 53 750 009 | Map
Chiang Rai City Walking Tour
The distance between the Chiang Rai Clocktower and the south bank of the Kok River is less than one kilometre. Many of the city’s key attractions are contained within this area and a walking tour is an easy option. The day market, Darul Aman Mosque, the 14th century Wat Phra Sing temple and the more modern Wat Klang Wiang are iconic sights on walking tours. Those with an interest in Thai history might find the home of one-time Thai prime-minister Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsongkram an interesting stop.
Field Marshal P. Pibulsongkram House: T. Rop Wiang, A. Muang, Chiang Rai 57000 | Open: 08:00-15:15 (Daily) | Tel: +66 53 711 202, +66 81 291 4145 | Map
Elephant treks from Karen Ruammit Village
Karen Ruammit Village is a firm favourite when visiting Chiang Rai and offers the chance of taking an elephant trek through the terrain of the north. There are 30-plus elephants available for treks and a number of different routes to choose from. Trek durations vary between thirty minutes and two hours and are led by experienced mahouts (elephant trainers).
Karen Ruammit Village: M. 2, T. Mae Yao, A. Muang, Chiang Rai 57000 | Tel: +66 53 737 359-11, +66 87 176 2090, +66 81 706 9066 | Map
Trekking companies such as Akha Tour and Lanna Trek offer combo tours varying in length from one day to three days and two nights. Knowledgeable local guides lead the trekking tours. These generally begin with a short drive to the start point. Treks stop at Lisu, Akha and other hilltribe villages, waterfalls and go across forested landscapes. Longer trekking tours often come with boat rides and elephant treks included. Treks include overnight accommodation in hilltribe villages, meals and all transportation costs from the trekkers’ Chiang Rai hotel.
Akha Tour: Tel: +66 91 747 9499, Website, E-mail, Map | Lanna Trek: Open: 08:00-17:00 (Daily), Tel: +66 80 671 2252, +66 83 318 8379, Website, E-mail, Map
Renting a bicycle or joining a cycling tour are alternate activities for visitors wishing to gain illuminating insights into the local area and get some exercise at the same time. Some accommodation establishments like Bed & Bike Poshtel offer bicycle hire. Fat Free Bike on Klang Wiang Road has a collection of rental bicycles ranging from city bikes to hybrids. Both Chiangrai Bicycle Tour and Chiangrai Bicycle Trip are city based and operate fully-inclusive bicycle tours of between half and five days in length. These cover tourist destinations such as Wat Rong Khun (The White Temple), Singha Park, Chiang Saen, the Golden Triangle and Chiang Khong.
Bed & Bike Poshtel: Tel: +66 64 848 6566, Facebook, E-mail, Map | Fat Free Bicycle Shop: Tel: +66 86 430 5523, Website, Facebook, Map | Chiang Rai Bicycle Tour: Tel: +66 53 774 506, Website, Facebook, E-mail, Map | Chiangrai Bicycle Trip: Tel: +66 83 315 2498, Website, Facebook, E-mail, Map
Soaring across Singha Park on a zipline is a major attraction at this Chiang Rai agro-tourism amenity. The zipline sees riders strapped into harnesses before zooming down from an eight-floor tower. The views over the tea gardens and across to Doi Chang mountain are awe-inspiring. Singha Park has a 50-metre high adventure climbing wall too and this provides views of the park from a different angle.
Singha Park: #99, T. Mae Korn, A. Muang, Chiang Rai 57000 | Open: 09:00-18:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 53 160 636-7, +66 61 387 7592 | Website | Facebook | E-mail | Map
Thai Cooking Classes
Thai food has won the hearts of people from all over the world. Being able to cook dishes such as pad Thai noodles, green curry and tom yam gung in the comfort of your own home is immensely satisfying. There are several Thai cookery schools in Chiang Rai and the Akha Kitchen comes highly recommended. Five-hour courses at this school teach the basics and have the added bonus of learning how to prepare som tam spicy salad and a spicy Akha dip known as sapi tong. Suwannee Cooking is another premier Thai cookery school and offers a choice of courses.
Akha Kitchen Thai Cooking Class: Tel: +66 90 331 8485, Website, Facebook, E-mail, Map | Suwannee Thai Cooking Class: Tel: +66 84 740 7119, Website, Facebook, E-mail, Map
Thai Massage Treatments
No visit to Thailand would be complete without getting at least one Thai massage. Both relaxing and curative massages are available at Chiang Rai spas such as Arisara and Panmanee. Arisara provides superior experiences in the form of traditional Thai massages, four-hands massages, oil massages and foot reflexology massages.
Arisara Thai Massage: Open: 10:00-22:00 (Daily), Tel: +66 53 719 355-6, Facebook, E-mail, Map | Panmanee Thai Massage: Open: 11:00-21:00 (Daily), Tel: +66 81 914 4466, Map