Temples and churches
Bandaam Museum (AKA Black House or Black Temple), 414 Moo 13 Nanglae, Muang, Chiang Rai, 57100 (Located about 10 km north of the city. After driving 1.9 km past Chaing Rai University on Hwy 1, turn left into Soi 13 (the first left after the blue sign reading National Artist Mr. Thawan Duchanee; located at 19°59.69'N, 99°51.86'E), go 470 m & turn left into a small soi (the third left, and last before the road forks; there is a red/white painted tire on the side of the road), proceed 360 m and it is on the left on a right hand corner.), ☎ +66 53 705 834, +66 53 776 333, +66 81 673 1155 (email@example.com), . 09:00-17:00, closed from 12:00- 13:00. Free. edit
Created by Thailand national artist Thawan Duchanee, the grounds include nearly 40 small black houses made of wood, glass, concrete, bricks, or terracotta in various unique styles and design scattered around the temple area. The cluster of houses accommodates Thawan’s collections of paintings, sculptures, animal bones, skins, horns, and silver and gold items from around the world. Several of the houses exhibit Balinese and Burmese architecture and art dating back to the Ayutthaya Period. The artist uses bones as a source of inspiration to paint. It is definitely not a place for animal lovers. There are also various kinds of baskets and drums from many regions and countries on display at Baandam. Not all exhibits are open to public. Open to everyone except tour groups, and admission is free. For more information or to arrange group visits, call +66 89 767 4444 or +66 53 705 834.
You can travel to the Black House by public transport. There is a public bus from the Chiang Rai bus station (18 baht, 30 min, platforms 5 & 6, but ask driver or counter). The bus will drop you off on the highway and you'll have to walk about 500 m down a side road to get there. To get back, walk back to the highway and flag down a public bus or songthaew. You shouldn't have to pay more than 20 baht.
Chiang Rai First Church, its largest, was built in 1914 at PratuSiri corner. It's Presbyterian.
Munniti Chiang Rai Across from Sammakkhi Wittayakhom School on Banpaprakan is this Taoist and Mahayana Buddhist temple, a rare sight in Theraveda Buddhist Thailand. There is a Shan house nearby. And on the road to Pattaya Noi is a temple dedicated to to the Chinese Goddess of Mercy featuring a large statue. In the Ban Kheck area is another Goddess of Mercy temple.
Wat Klong Wiang. Dating back to 1432, this is an excellent but little-visited temple showcasing exuberant Lanna-style at its best. Noteworthy are the colourful guardian statues, the elephants in the back and the "No Killing Area" admonition at the entrance.
Wat Ming Meuang, intersection of Banphaprakan and Trairat Rds. Small temple housing the spirit of the city (ming meuang) in an exquisitely carved and decorated Lanna-style, almost Laotian wiharn.
Wat Phra Kaeo This beautiful Buddhist temple on Trairat Rd right in town is famous for having housed, in the 14th century, the Emerald Buddha, one of the most famous Buddha images in Thailand. According to legend, the statue was (re)discovered when a bolt of lightning hit a chedi (stupa) on the grounds, cracking it open and revealing the Buddha inside. The temple grounds are lush with greenery and house a compact but excellent two-story air conditioned museum, with a near-exact replica (1 mm shorter!) of the Emerald Buddha. The original is now housed in Bangkok in the temple of the same name, on the grounds of the Royal Palace.
Wat Phra Sing (วัดพระสิงห์) is located near the townhall used to house a major Buddha statue, the Phra Buddha Sihing, which is now enshrined in Chiang Mai. Like Wat Phra Kaeo, the temple now houses a replica instead. A special feature is the Lanna-style Ubosot and the wooden door panels carved by Chiang Rai contemporary craftsmen. Tel: +66 53 745 038.
Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong (วัดพระธาตุดอยจอมทอง), located on Doi Chom Thong on the banks of the Kok River within the town area, contains what is believed to be the oldest holy relic even before King Mengrai built Chiang Rai. The chedi containing the holy relic was probably renovated at the same time the town was being built. A major religious site in Chiang Rai. It was from here that King Mengrai spotted the strategic location on which to establish the town. Tel: +66 53 716 055.
White Temple (วัดร่องขุ่น Wat Rong Khun), located at Ban Rong Khun, Tambon Pa O Don Chai, along Phahonyothin roadside at Km816, approximately 13 km from the city. This unique modern temple was designed and built by artist Chaloemchai Khositphiphat starting in 1998. A beautiful white ordination hall—Phra Ubosot—is decorated with silver glittering pieces of mirrors. There are large mural paintings of the Lord Buddha in different gestures. A gable is decorated with a gable apex, a leaf-shaped gable-edging in the shapes of Phya Naga, dragon and mythical creatures, which are entirely made of white stucco. There are viharn, small halls for recitation surrounding the ordination hall, museum, and reception pavilion. The gallery exhibits paintings of Chaloemchai Khositphiphat. Work on the temple continues, and it is not expected to be completed for the next few decades. It opens daily at 08:00-18:00. Tel: +66 53 673 579 Fax: +66 53 673 539. Entry is free. It's easy to get to the temple by public transport: there is a public bus from the Chiang Rai bus station (20 baht, 30 min; platform 8, but ask driver or counter). To get back, flag down a public bus or songthaew from the police station on the left side of the road leading back to the main highway.
The Chiang Rai Cultural Centre is just north of the new airport, to the other side of the highway, next door to Rajapat Teacher's College.
Cultural Hall Museum Near the TAT building on Singhaklai Rd is a large white building that has a huge statue of King Mongkut at the main entrance. Visitors can find prehistoric tools, two medieval cannons, costume examples, ancient pottery, and examples of ancient Lanna literature in the Dhamma script. There are also videos available, a model of the city and a display of five major areas of Tai culture. Admission for adults is 10 baht, for children 5 baht.
Haw Shan Art Gallery Out NongBua Rd, across from Family Bakery, in a large, dark-wood, Shan-style pavilion. It can be opened for special showings.
Hill Tribe Museum and Education Centre, 620/1 Tanalai Rd, Tel. +66 53 740 088, . Situated in the centre of town, it is aimed at promoting a better understanding of hill tribes and their cultures. The dusty low-key displays include housing styles, tools, utensils and traditional hunting, fishing. and agricultural equipment, but it's worth a visit for an unsanitised view of how the hill tribes are exploited by some Thais and the tourist industry. The centre also runs their own hill tribe tours, where the money actually goes to employ and help the tribes people. Open 08:30 to 18:00. There is a branch of Bangkok's Cabbages and Condoms restaurant downstairs, whose profits go to support family planning and sex education projects in Thailand.
Lanna Museum, at Rong Rian Ban Sang Khong Yai, just southwest of Chiang Rai Hospital at an elementary school. It is opened by request.
Mae Fah Luang Art & Cultural Park, 5 km west of town, has lovely two lakes, a barge and several large Shan-style small ponds. There is interesting Haw Kam Golden Temple with two Shan halls containing accoutrements collected by Princess Maha Chakri and examples of Lanna craftsmanship: seven-armed candelabra, Buddha images, wooden alters, embroidered cloth for wrapping Buddhist scriptures, carved wood screens, swords, and monks' fans.
Oub Kham Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์อูปคำ), 81/1 Na Khai Rd, Tambon Rob Wiang near Den Ha Market, one kilometre from the centre of town. The collection embraces objects used in the royal courts such as Lanna, Khum Chao Phare and Khum Chao Chiang Mai some parts are from northeast Myanmar, southwest China and Vietnam which are about 500-1,000 years old. Visitors can admire 120 year-old ancient fabrics, Sin Mai Kham-golden silk skirt-from the Mandalay, the golden throne, king’s golden costumes and silver ornaments. A golden bowl used by royals, is a masterpiece. All of those show the glory of the kingdom in the past. It opens daily from 09:00-17:00. Admission for adults is 200 baht and for children 100 baht. Tel: +66 53 713 349.
Princess Mother '90 Museum is a sizeable fascinating pavilion dedicated to the life of the beloved Princess Mother (mother of the present king, King Rama IX). On display are fine collections of lacquer boxes, wooden pulleys, pottery, weaving equipment and some old handwritten folded texts with drawings. Admission is free.
The Sirindhorn Chinese Language and Culture Centre (ศูนย์ภาษาวัฒนธรรมจีนสิรินธร)at Mae Fah Luang University was established through the cooperation of Mae Fa Luang University and the People’s Republic of China. The centre was built as a memorial to honour the Princess mother as a symbol of friendship between the two nations. The centre’s design adheres to Chinese principles. Construction took 7 months to complete at a cost of approximately 60 million baht. The architecture replicates the Suzhou Chinese structure, building decorations and the garden ornaments by complying with the design layouts and using authentic materials shipped from China. The roofing tiles, the doors and the marble tiles laid at the entrance are all examples of a few of the materials brought from China. Tel: +66 53 917 093, +66 53 917 097. 
The Kok River (แม่น้ำกก) flows through the town of Chiang Rai and is 130 km long. Chiang Rai Beach lies on the banks of this river and is a popular picnic spot in summer. Long-tailed boats and cruise can be made from town to travel along both sides of lovely sceneries. Stops can be made at hill tribe villages of the Akha, Lisu, Lahu, and Karen, etc. Elephant rides are also available to see the surrounding area. For more information, contact C.R. Pier, Tel: +66 53 750 009. Another river route starts from Tha Ton in Chiang Mai going northward to Chiang Rai. The boat trip takes about four hours. Trips by bamboo raft takes 3 days and 2 nights, contact Tha Ton Boat Club. Tel: +66 53 459 427 or Thip Travel Tel: +66 53 459 312.
Gate of Siam - on the border with Laos - you stand high up on a mountain and Laos is in front of you across the mighty Mekong River.
Phucheefah - great sunset view.
Namtok Khun Kon Forest Park (วนอุทยานน้ำตกขุนกรณ์) can be reached by taking Hwy 1211 from town. After 18 km, turn right and proceed on for another 12 km. Or go along Hwy 1 (Chiang Rai-Phayao) for about 15 km where there is a right turn to proceed further another 17 km, then a 30-minute walk to the waterfall. The highest and most scenic waterfall in Chiang Rai, Khun Kon, is some 70 m in height. Along the route to the site are cool, shady natural surroundings suitable for relaxation and nature walks. It is somewhat of a walk from the parking area, and it is quite hilly, so if you are not reasonably fit for a half hour walk over undulating terrain, then do not try it.
The King Mengrai the Great Memorial (อนุสาวรีย์พ่อขุนเม็งรายมหาราช) is located in town on the intersection leading to Mae Chan. Originally, King Mengrai was the ruler of Nakhon Hiran Ngoen Yang (an ancient town on the bank of the Mae Khong around Chiang Saen) before Chiang Rai was established as the administrative centre in 1262. He consolidated his power by merging the different city in the north and founded the Lanna Thai Kingdom in 1296 with Chiang Mai as the capital.
The King Mengrai Stupa (กู่พระเจ้าเม็งราย) in front of Wat Ngam Mueang atop Doi Ngam Mueang in Muang district was built by King Chaisongkram to contain the remains of his father (King Mengrai).