Chiang Rai: Why 1 day is enough

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You may have seen my post where I said that biking out the back roads of Chiang Rai was one of my favourite parts of Thailand. It was! Despite that I felt really uneasy there and I would be highly unlikely to go there again in the future.

Tip read: Chiang Mai’s hidden gem

There are some beautiful places in and around Chiang Rai, such as the wonderful views and lovely mountains to the north. There is also the spectacular White Temple which is a must see! It is very crowded through and a Chinese man we met in Chiang Mai advised us not to go inside. He said it was made really modern recently and even had posters of Batman?!

Click here to book cheap tours to the White Temple

For me, the atmosphere in Chiang Rai was enough to leave after 1 day there.

Getting lost

When we arrived at our hotel we found out that a friend of ours had lost his phone on the bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. We were lucky enough to find someone at the reception who was willing to help and called the bus office to ask if they had found it. They had! We organised to go pick it up as they left it at the station for us. The hotel helped us rent some bikes so we could make out way there.

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The guy gave us a map and showed us where to go. Well his directions were completely wrong. We ended up lost on the outskirts of Chiang Rai, our first time on bikes, and in a massive hail storm. Fantastic. It took us hours to find the bus station where we finally got the phone.

Views at Chiang Rai

Trying to get food

Being lost for so long obviously really works up an appetite. We parked up on some side street and restaurant after restaurant turned us away. We were even told some of the places didn’t serve food, food we could see nearby. It was like they didn’t want to serve any falang (westerners.)

Tip read: Chiang Rai Condotel

We decided to give up and head back to the hotel and rest up for a while before trying again. We headed back out and still really struggled. The result was being in a packed, high school cafeteria-like restaurant with the locals. Nothing has made me feel more awkward or out of place. They really couldn’t understand why we were there and were staring at us until we left.

Meeting the teachers

A few teachers and long-term travellers were staying in our hotel and we sat with them until late chatting away. The teacher we met was really blunt and honest and told us how much he didn’t like Chiang Rai. He though it was really boring and the others with him said we would be better off leaving early and heading somewhere new.

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Of course we did leave early and wished we had listened to the people in Chiang Mai who told us 1 day was enough in Chiang Rai. You can get a day trip from Chiang Mai to save you heading up there yourself.

Chiang Rai: Why 1 day is enough
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  • Sorry to hear it wasn’t a great experience–now I know to skip Chiang Rai! Sometimes travel doesn’t always end up the way you want, but maybe your story searching for the bus will end up being funny one day :). Sounds like you had quite the introduction to motorbiking!

  • Too bad you didn’t like Chiang Rai. I think I just drove through the city and stopped in a 7-Eleven, I don’t feel like I missed anything after reading this. I did stop at Wat Rong Khun outside the city and took lots of stunning pictures.

  • That’s a shame that the trip to Chiang Rai was nothing you had hoped it would be. However, when we travel it is all a different and learning experience and I have learned to accept the good with the not so good. And usually there is more good than not and all of it becomes a talking point – hence your post (which I enjoyed reading by the way). Also nice photos and video.

  • Too many “must see” attractions really feel like they could be done in one day. You have to go, but you wonder why you are there. Sounds like type two fun. It will be fun one day.

  • I’m sorry you didn’t really enjoy your time in Chiang Rai. But not every town suits every person. At least you got the see the White Temple which is one of the most impressive in South East Asia!

  • Sometimes it happens so! Our expectations get totally wasted on location! Too bad you got lost, that too in a hail storm! That’s painful!
    But I guess, that’s a learning too! Now, other travelers can refer you blog and take a wise decision!

  • Sometimes you hear about lot of good things about a tourist place and if you find nothing there then it is too disappointing. Also you struggled a lot to get food. People staring at you is also an awkward thing but you got some different experience which you will remember for years.

  • I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t have a good time in Chiang Rai. I totally understand your feeling. Sometimes I got disappointed about over-famous tourist places as well. Thanks for sharing your honest review about the place.

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