Our last stop in Chiang Rai, Thailand
Updated: Mar 5, 2019
This is our last stop of our 17 day trip before heading back home on Tuesday. Boy, that went by fast.
Day 1 - Baan Suan Jantra Homestay and the City of Chiang Rai
After leaving Luang Prabang on a sleeper bus Friday night, we finally arrived in Chiang
Rai Saturday afternoon around 12:30pm. The experience on the sleeper bus wasn't quite as bad as the first time. We actually got a decent place on the bus instead of being stuck in the back, and it made a huge difference.
We arrived at the bus terminal that was located outside the city so we had to take a local bus (bus fare $.60) to go into the city. Since we had some time before checking in at our guesthouse, we decided to explore the city a little bit and grab some lunch.
By chance, we found this highly rated Thai restaurant in the city called "Barrab" restaurant. It was a restaurant that was also connected to a small guesthouse ($20/night). The meal was fantastic! We ordered a vegetable dish in peanut sauce (my favorite), a stir-fry vegetables, and a veggie pad thai. All three were outstanding and even the service was great. Everybody spoke good English and were very friendly. It feels good to be back in Thailand. I feel very welcome here.
After lunch, we were planning out our three days here and decided to rent a motorbike. We figured this is a quieter town than Chiang Mai with less traffic so it'll be safer, and we'll be able to travel farther to see more places. Luckily, the staff at the restaurant was also able to help us with renting a motorbike for 250 baht/day ($8/day). So, conveniently, we got on our newely rented motorbike right from the restaurant and headed over to our new home for the next 3 days.
We booked "Baan Suan Jantra Homestay" through Airbnb ($103.44 for 3 nights including breakfast and cleaning fees). When we booked it, we had no idea it was 30 minutes away from the city. Good thing we had our motorbike. We got to our guesthouse around 5:30 pm. It's situated in a lovely countryside with lots of exotic trees and a lagoon. It feels like I'm staying at a treehouse somewhere in the jungle. It's definitely a lovely and peaceful place.
The owners, Nee and Aoy (husband and wife) runs this entire place and are super
friendly. Nee does all the cooking making everything from homemade bread to muffins, jams and awesome thai food all from scratch. Her husband, Aoy, does all the maintenance and building for the property. There are only four guesthouses here so it's super quiet and peaceful. Nee told us that her husband's passion is building a beautiful place so his guests can enjoy it. I highly recommend it if you're looking for an interesting and relaxing place to stay with great hospitality.
After settling in, we headed out to the night market. The city is not what I had expected. I heard that it was a smaller city than Chiang Mai so I had expected to be a sleepy town with not much excitement. Well, I was quite wrong. Maybe it's because we were in a touristy area, but there were a lot of big hotels along with fancy shops and restaurants. It feels a lot more modern here than where we were in Chiang Mai.
The night market was interesting. There were a lot of music and shows with locals doing traditional dances. If you're interested in shopping, it's a good place to visit. I also noticed that there are a lot of bars here. As we walked around, we saw many locals as well as tourists hanging out at the bars, and purely by accident, we walked right through the red light district. I'm getting the feeling that this area of the city is not a place for families.
Day 2 - Doi Chang Coffee Farm & Khun Korn Waterfall
We woke up to the sounds of roosters crowing and geese honking. We headed down to the outdoor dining area overlooking the lagoon where we enjoyed our breakfast. Our host, Nee, served us homemade bread and jam, carrot cake and local coffee and tea. After breakfast, Nee, made some recommendations on the things we can do while we're here. She recommended that we go visit the famous "Doi Chang Coffee Farm" in the hills of Chiang Rai, an hour motobike ride from where we are staying.
It was a beautiful ride up the hills passing small villages on a very winding road. Unfortunately, once we got there, we found out that the harvesting season had passed. No wonder it was so quiet coming up the hills. So, we ended up finding a nice coffee shop at one of the coffee farms and took in the beautiful view.
Coming back, we stopped by one of the tallest waterfalls in Thailand, "Khun korn Waterfall", located about 40 minutes from Chiang Rai. It was also recommended by our host. We got there pretty late around 4:10. The park was closing at 4:30 so we were rushing to get to the waterfall so we don't miss it. Once we got to the gate, we asked the person at the gate if we can still go up to the waterfall. It was going to be about half an hour hike up to the waterfall so I thought he wasn't going to let us through. Even though he spoke very little English, he understood and let us through with a big smile. I think I said this before but Is everybody always so nice here? Seriously, even though most people speak very little English here, everybody is always super friendly and smiling. I can't say enough about how people are so nice here.
Unlike Kuang Si Waterfall in Luang Prabang, there is no entrance fee here. It was an easy half an hour hike up the mountain that eventually led us to this magnificent waterfall. It was not touristy as Kuang Si Watefall, and we were able to get very close to the waterfall. The trail led us right to the bottom of the waterfall with a spectacular view.
Once we got back to our place, we went for a short walk. Our guesthouse is on a large property surrounded by the rice fields and tea plantation. We went out for a walk right as the sun was going down and saw one of the amazing sunsets we have ever seen.
After we got back to our guesthouse, we ordered some Thai food for dinner. Nee is not just an amazing baker but also an amazing cook. We ordered a tofu pad thai, veggie and tofu green curry, and some pineapple fried rice. Nee did warn us that it was going to be a lot of food and she wasn't kidding. All the dishes were amazing, and the portions were huge, perhaps twice as much as the restaurants at half the cost.
Day 3 - The Temples
On our last full day here, we packed our day with the itinerary of visiting the temples. After having another great breakfast including homemade banana muffins and local tea (for me) and coffee (for my husband), we got on our motorbike with the intention of visiting four of the most famous temples in Chiang Rai. Well, we ran out of time and were only able to visit three of the four temples.
Wat Rong Khun - "The White Temple" of Chiang Rai
Our first stop was the White Temple. The cost for the entrance fee is 50 baht ($1.60). It was about 4 km (10 min ride) from our guesthouse located outside the city of Chiang Rai. It was the most spectacular temple I had ever seen. It was pure magical. Seriously, the pictures don't do justice. It's even more amazing in person. This was definitely my favorite of the three.
Baan Dum - "The Black Temple" of Chiang Rai
Our second stop was the Black Temple. The cost for the entrance fee is 80 baht ($2.60). On the contrary to the White Temple, everything here is very dark. Most of the structures are in dark colors as well as all the artifacts. In my opinion, it's not as impressive as the White Temple but worth seeing. It was also 40 minute ride from the city.
Wat Rong Seur Ten - "The Blue Temple" of Chiang Rai
Our last stop was the Blue Temple. There is no entrance fee here. The Blue Temple is a lot smaller in scale than either the White or Black Temple but still quite beautiful. This temple is only about 10 minutes away from the city and easy to get to.
Unfortunately, we had hoped to see another temple called the Jade Temple of Chiang Rai but ended up running out of time. We had scheduled a Thai massage on our last night here for 5 pm at our guesthouse. So, after having a late lunch in the city, we headed back to our guesthouse for a relaxing evening.
Nee had arranged to have two therapist come to our guesthouse for a 1 1/2 full body Thai massage 300 baht ($10/person). Can you believe it? How can anybody pass this up when it's such a great deal. Thai Massage is like doing yoga but somebody is doing it for you while you lay there. Pretty amazing :)
Wrapped up our last day here in Chiang Rai with another amazing dinner prepared by Nee and an awesome Thai massage. While we were here, we also met some really nice couples from Japan and Cananda. We had a great time here in Chiang Rai.
Before arriving here, I didn't have high expectations of this city. I expected to be very small and kind of mellow like Luang Prabang, Laos. Well, I was pleasantly surprised but what made this visit so unique and special was the people we met along the way especially our hosts, Nee and Aoy.
Nee and Aoy truly took very good care of us and made our visit very special. We could tell the special touches they put into providing their guests with the utmost care and generosity. Their warmth and hospitality made us feel like we were part of the family, and it made all the difference in the world. Did I mention how nice people are here?? :) I can't say enough about the people here. It makes me want to live here.
As far as the food, people do eat a lot of meat here and is included in a lot of the dishes. So, if you're a vegetarian or vegan like me, you're going to have to make special requests. This is very easy to do at most restaurants. If you're eating on a budget, stick to the local food. We found that it costs a lot more to eat western food and it doesn't taste as good.
The temples were amazing and the motorbike experience was a lot of fun. We'll definitely be coming back very soon.