The best family things to do in Chiang Rai offer a glimpse into the real Thai way of life. Tourists come to Thailand’s northernmost major city to visit the famed Golden Triangle, but the city itself also has much to offer for those traveling with kids. It’s relaxed, safe at night, and small enough to get to experience over a few days.

    Chiang Rai has a lively night market, along with plenty of museums and temples that will provide an insight into Thai culture. With several family-friendly attractions in or close to the city centre, it's a good choice for families looking to enjoy a laidback vacation in Thailand.

    1

    Singha Park Chiang Rai

    Farm-turned-park southwest of central Chiang Rai

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    Singha Park started out as Boon Rawd Farm, spanning 1,280 ha of barley fields, fruit orchards, and tea plantations. Today, the park’s emphasis is now firmly on leisure pursuits – great for those who love outdoor activities and lush settings.

    Standouts include a climbing wall and zipline, as well as a petting zoo. It's easy to cover the distance between attractions in this agricultural landmark thanks to an electric streetcar, plus scooter and bicycle rental options. Singha Park is around 12 km southwest of Chiang Rai.

    Location: Mae Kon, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)91 576 0374

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    2

    Nava Land Water Park

    Splash around and have some fun

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    The Nava Land Water Park is a family favorite in Chiang Rai, with waterslides, inflatables, and a wave pool to keep children amused throughout their visit. Out of the water, model dinosaurs will delight anyone with a predilection for paleontology.

    Poolside dining and plenty of sun loungers encourage parents to relax while their little ones have fun. As with most waterparks, it’s likely to be most crowded at weekends, so time your visit on a weekday if possible. The Nava Land Water Park is within a 20-minute drive west of central Chiang Rai.

    Location: Wiang Chai, Wiang Chai District, Chiang Rai 57210, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)53 768 088

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    3

    Garden of Reeds

    Pretty garden along the Kok River

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    The Garden of Reeds is one of Chiang Rai’s most beautiful parks. Brimming with floral displays and hosting a small waterfall, this is a popular place for families to take a stroll along the Kok River. Stands of mature trees provide welcome shade during the heat of the day.

    Meandering paths lead to a formal English rose garden and glorious swathes of chrysanthemums, lillies, cyclamen begonia and azaleas. Ornamental plants provide structure and form in the garden. More than anything else, young kids will probably most appreciate its onsite playground and musical water fountain.

    Location: Tambon Rim Kok, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

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    4

    Wat Rong Khun (White Temple)

    The décor here might come as a surprise

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    Wat Rong Khun looks like a regular temple from the outside, albeit one that’s completely white. It has all the familiar architectural details that you might have seen on temples across Thailand.

    Step inside and you’re in for a bit of a shock. Alongside Buddha, you’ll encounter an eclectic array of modern-day and fictional icons. Spot sculptures of Michael Jackson and Spiderman, as well as characters from Harry Potter and Kung Fu Panda. The temple’s restrooms are housed in an ornate, golden temple-like building.

    Location: 60 Village 1 Phahonyothin Rd, Pa O Don Chai, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)53 673 967

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    5

    Clock Tower Chiang Rai

    Be sure to come at the right time of day

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    The Clock Tower of Chiang Rai has rapidly become a popular Chiang Rai landmark since it was installed in 2008. It’s an elaborate structure that was designed by Thai artist, Chalermchai Khositpipat, who was also responsible for the city’s famous White Temple.

    This golden traffic circle centerpiece glitters in the sunshine by day, but comes into its own after dark. The tower becomes the focal point of an impressive sound and light show, which takes place at 6 pm, 7 pm and 8 pm. Don't be late, though, as the show's over in 5 minutes.  

    Location: Tambon Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

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    6

    Baan Dam Museum (Black Temple)

    Unusual and unconventional museum complex

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    • History
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    The Baan Dam Museum is often referred to as a temple though, in fact, it isn't a place of worship. This complex is full of temple-like buildings crammed with artifacts. Artist Thawan Duchanee is an avid collector of animal parts and he turned bones and skins into furnishings and architectural embellishments, including a treehouse with steps fashioned from antlers.

    Note that some of the museum’s displays can be rather confronting. It’s wise to do some research to consider whether your children will be engrossed or appalled by those neighborhoods of the museum.

    Location: 333 Village No. 13, Baan Dam Museum, Nang Lae, Mueang Chiang Rai District 57100, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)53 776 333

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    7

    Khun Korn Forest Park Waterfall

    Easy hiking spot for the whole family

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    The Khun Korn Forest Park Waterfall offers an easy half-day trip from central Chiang Rai. A mostly flat hiking trail winds from the park’s parking spot through stands of mature bamboo, though it gets a little steeper and rockier as you near the waterfall.

    If you’re walking with very small children, you might need to carry them as the path crosses a shallow stream via a bamboo bridge. The gorgeous waterfall is a great reward for your efforts – its clear water is a cooling treat after the hike.

    Location: Highway No. 1208 Mae Kon, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm

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    8

    Golden Triangle Park

    Take in the view over 3 countries

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    The Golden Triangle Park sits on the banks of the mighty Mekong River, close to the confluence with the Ruak River. From here, you can look out over 3 countries: Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. Hop on a boat for a tour along the river. Back on dry land, there are plenty of scenic spots for those all-important selfies.

    It's a good idea to delve into the fascinating history of the opium trade at the nearby House of Opium Museum. Also, don't leave without visiting Tung Luang Chalerm Phrakiat, a delightful park and garden, and Phrathat Doi Pu Khao, known as the Temple of the Ancient Buddha of Chiang Saen.

    Location: 370 Tha Phae Road, Soi 4 Tambon Wiang, Amphoe Chiang Saen, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57150, Thailand

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    9

    Choui Fong Tea Plantation

    Learn about the process of growing tea

    The Choui Fong Tea Plantation dates back to 1977, serving as an established tourist attraction in Chiang Rai. The climate and soil of this highland area are ideal for growing varieties of tea, including such as assam, green, oolong and black tea.

    From up here, you can enjoy panoramic views of rows of emerald-green tea bushes. Step inside the onsite cafe for a tea tasting demonstration. Getting to the Choui Fong Tea Plantation from Chiang Rai takes around 1 hour by automobile, but the scenic journey is well worth the effort.

    Location: Pa Sang, Mae Chan District, Chiang Rai 57110, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)53 771 563

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    10

    Chiang Rai Night Bazaar

    Shop for souvenirs at this lively market

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    The Chiang Rai Night Bazaar is a market that takes place when the sun dips low behind the hills of northern Thailand. After a day of sightseeing, visitors browse its many stalls for handicrafts and other goods, such as clothing and jewelry. Good-humoured bartering is all part of the fun.

    Musicians and dancers provide fun entertainment at the night market. It’s also a great place to sample Thai street food – just follow your nose to the vendors cooking up delicious dishes and let them suggest what you should try first. This is also one of the best places in Chiang Rai to pick up cheap souvenirs like bags, T-shirts, or fashion jewelry. 

    Location: Tambon Wiang, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 6 pm to 11 pm

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    Julia Hammond | Contributing Writer

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