Important things to know before visiting Chiang Rai
You’ll probably need to take a flight to Bangkok first in order to travel to Chiang Rai by air According to the Chiang Rai Times. You might not need a visa or be able to obtain one once you arrive in Bangkok. For further information, see the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Domestic flights operate to and from both Bangkok airports from Chiang Rai International Airport (Suvarnabhumi Airport – BKK or Don Mueang Airport – DMK).
I traveled with AirAsia for this trip and was pleasantly impressed by how simple the flight was from Bangkok Don Mueang Airport to Chiang Rai Airport in just under 90 minutes.
You can check in for your flight up to 14 days in advance, despite the minimal amenities.
For a nominal cost, you may upgrade to what AirAsia calls “hot seats” for priority boarding and greater legroom. The seats are comfortable enough for short-haul flights.
The quickest and easiest method to get to your accommodation is to take a taxi from Chiang Rai International Airport to the city center.
Once you are at the arrivals area, make a left and proceed all the way to the terminal’s conclusion. For the flat charge of 160 Baht (5 USD), I was driven to my hotel in 10 minutes.
Get a local SIM card at the airport to stay connected. I frequently use DTAC and have fantastic connectivity across Thailand, not just in Bangkok.
You can get your DTAC SIM card online in advance and pick it up at the BKK or DMK airports, as well as in the city at Siam Center if you’re traveling to Bangkok before Chiang Rai.
For about 131 Baht (4 USD), you can purchase an 8-day DTAC SIM card here. For 149 Baht (4.5 USD), you can purchase an 8-day DTAC SIM Card if Chiang Mai is your first stop before Chiang Rai.
The Thai Baht is used as money in Thailand. The exchange rate is roughly 1 US dollar to 32–35 Baht. Cash is king, so exchange some money at the airport or take out cash from an ATM when you get there. Around the Night Bazaar neighborhood, there are a number of ATMs.
Although Chiang Rai is significantly colder than Chiang Mai and Bangkok, the best time to come is from November/December to February, just like Chiang Mai. Bring a light jacket for the mornings and evenings because Chiang Rai has a less humid and drier climate.
Additionally, Chiang Rai is typically less congested than Chiang Mai. However, as there aren’t many significant tourist attractions in Chiang Rai, people tend to cluster in the same places, the White Temple, Blue Temple, and Black House were all crowded with visitors when I went in December.