How has 2021 treated you so far now that it’s past mid-January? I can’t believe that I was in Ho Chi Minh City this time last year to start my Indochina trip that ended up with me getting sick in Vientiane.
One of the results of the situation was that I had to reroute my initial itinerary and skip some destinations that I was planning to visit, including the city that we’re going to cover on this week’s $10 series. Yep, I was planning to stop by Chiang Rai at the time, but due to the pandemic rising, I had to cancel everything.
So, thanks to Natalie of Voyage Scribe, today we’re going to talk about how you could spend your $10 in Chiang Rai… And this time, she even shares a 3-day itinerary around the city on the budget!
3 Ways to Explore Chiang Rai for $10 a Day
Chiang Rai, Thailand isn’t on most travelers’ lists, but I thought it was a great place to relax and explore, especially when you’re on a budget. A lot of people use this town as a starting or ending point for the slow boat into Laos, but spending a few extra days there is definitely worthwhile.
Here is how you can spend several days in Chiang Rai, Thailand on a budget of $10 per day!
Day 1: Temples, Market and Massage
Chiang Rai is known for its unique temples, and temple hopping is a great way to spend your first day.
Did you kow?
The White Temple, or known as Wat Rong Khun by the locals, was created by a Thai national artist, Ajarn Chalermchai Kositpipat. Born and bred in Chiang Rai, he was the person behind the breathtaking architecture and design of the temple. He has also dedicated his life to restore and develop the White Temple ever since.
First, head to the White Temple, which requires a paid ticket for foreigners. Don’t let the fee deter you; it’s so worth it!
It’s more art than a spiritual building, as it’s privately owned as an art exhibit. Inside, there are paintings of popular cartoons like Darth Vader, Spider-Man, and Hello Kitty. Weird, huh? It’s definitely the most unique temple you’ll go to!
Next, head to the Blue Temple. As the White Temple is white, the Blue Temple is, you guessed it, blue. This is a functioning Buddhist temple, so please be respectful.
In the evening, head to the night market, which is a great place to try lots of different foods. I tried a grasshopper there; don’t judge, it’s not as gross as you might think!
End your night off with a massage at the market. While not the most relaxing environment for a massage, it’s definitely an authentic one, with Thai people getting a massage right next to you.
- White Temple – $2 (60 baht)
- Blue Temple – Free
- Street Food – $4 (120 bath)
- Massage – $2.65 (80 baht
Day 2: Stay at Get Hi Hostel
Get Hi Hostel is a bit on the higher side in prices for most backpackers, but you’ll still remain below your $10 daily budget. The atmosphere at this hostel is among the best I’ve ever come across, and there are daily activities that will fill your day with fun.
Start your day off with some breakfast. This hostel is homier than most hostels, so instead of having breakfast available only during a set time, the kitchen is stocked with food you can take at any time of the day.
Spend the rest of the day meeting new travel buddies (I met people to travel to Laos with here!), lounging on the couch, watching TV, and playing with Piggy, the adorable dog living there!
Also, if you’re a writer who travels like me, check out my Writer’s Guide to Thailand. Chiang Rai is one of the places featured in it, and this is the perfect day to get some writing done.
Later in the day, participate in one of the activities at the hostel. I’d recommend staying there on a Monday because there are cooking classes at the hostel on those days. For only 50 baht, you can make yourself an authentic Thai dinner! When I was there, we learned how to make a papaya salad.
Other activities on other days of the week include an excursion to a waterfall, beer pong and trivia nights.
- Accommodation – $7.40 (225 baht)
- Activities – Free, or $1.65 (50 baht) for cooking class
Day 3: Tea Plantation
One of my favorite excursions from Chiang Rai was the Choui Fong tea plantation. It’s a bit far from the town itself, but it’s worth the trip if you love tea!
The easiest and cheapest way to get there is to rent a motorbike. Once there, you can explore the rows of tea trees free of charge!
Once you’ve had enough exploring, head to the tea shop where you can buy some of their freshly brewed tea and a yummy cake. There’s a pretty terrace where you can enjoy your tea with a beautiful view of the tea fields.
- Motorbike half-day rental – $6 (200 baht)
- Tea and cake – $4 (120 baht)
Contributor: Natalie from Voyage Scribe.
Natalie Czarnota is a traveler, writer and the founder of VoyageScribe.com. She loves gaining writing inspiration from her travels and sharing her experiences on Voyage Scribe with other writers who travel.