Where to stay in Chiang Rai for first time: 5 Safe areas

Chiang Rai is one of my favorite destinations in Northern Thailand along with Chiang Mai and Pai. In today’s article, I will help you to find the safest places to stay in Chiang Rai for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safest areas to stay in Chiang Rai for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map. I’ll also share where I stayed in Chiang Rai and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Chiang Rai is a great tourist destination in northern Thailand. It is known for its picturesque landscapes, cultural attractions, and historical significance. 

At the city center of Chiang Rai stands the Clock Tower. It is an iconic landmark, especially illuminated at night. It was designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat, the same artist behind the White Temple.

One of the most famous attractions in Chiang Rai, Wat Rong Khun is a stunning white temple designed by the Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. The temple is known for its intricate and unique architecture, featuring ornate details and contemporary artwork.

Chiang Rai is located in the vicinity of the Golden Triangle, an area where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong Rivers. This region was historically known for its opium production, but today it is a popular tourist destination.

Another noteworthy temple in Chiang Rai is the Blue Temple (Wat Rong Suea Ten), known for its vibrant blue color and elaborate decorations. It is a relatively recent addition to the city’s attractions.

Chiang Rai is home to numerous hill tribes, including the Karen and Akha people. You will have the opportunity to learn about their cultures, traditions, and lifestyles by visiting hill tribe villages.

Is Chiang Rai safe to visit?

Chiang Rai, like most cities in Thailand, is generally safe for tourists, even for female solo travelers. But like any destination, it’s essential to exercise standard precautions and follow local customs to ensure a safe visit.

Where to stay in Chiang Rai for the first time?

The best and safest areas to stay in Chiang Rai for first-timers and tourists are the areas around the Clock Tower, Riverside, Airport/ Highway 1, Golden Triangle, and White Temple. Remember that securing your belongings and taking common-sense precautions are important regardless of the area you stay in.

Chiang Rai city center, particularly the area around the Clock Tower, is the most popular area in Chiang Rai for a first visit. This area has the highest concentration of accommodations for all budgets and preferences. It also offers easy access to night markets, shops and restaurants.

If you prefer a quieter and more scenic environment, the Riverside area is a great option. It offers a serene riverside setting, beautiful views, luxury stays, and a peaceful atmosphere.

Airport/Highway 1 Area is a convenient base if you have early/late flights. It is farther from the main attractions, with limited entertainment options.

You can also consider booking accommodations near the Golden Triangle and White Temple. There aren’t many choices for hotels in these areas. My recommendation is to book a hotel in Chiang Rai TownCenter and take day trips to the Golden Triangle/White Temple.

During my trip to Chiang Rai, I stayed for 3 nights at the Le Patta Hotel Chiang Rai. It was a great hotel in a central location, an easy distance from the popular Saturday Night Walking Street, Bus Station, Clock Tower, and Night Bazaar. It also has  a 24-hour security service and CCTV. My room was clean with a comfortable bed and delicious breakfasts.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Chiang Rai for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Chiang Rai first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Chiang Rai first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Chiang Rai, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Chiang Rai have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

5 Safe areas to stay in Chiang Rai for first-timers and tourists

1. Clock Tower Chiang Rai

The Clock Tower area is the best base for first-timers who want to stay in the heart of the city. It offers a central and lively location with easy access to the city’s main attractions, shops, and restaurants.

The area comes alive in the evening with the Night Bazaar. You’ll find a variety of street food, local crafts, and a lively atmosphere.

 The Clock Tower itself is an iconic landmark, and you’ll be within reach of other cultural sites such as temples and museums.

Best places to stay in Chiang Rai Clock Tower for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): MORA Boutique Hotel, Great 5-star hotel located on Uttarakit Road in central Chiang Rai, easy distance from Night Walking Street, Wat Pra Sing, Statue of King Mengrai and Clock Tower. It has free bikes, free airport shuttle services, 24-hour front desk, and an outdoor swimming pool. You can enjoy Exceptional Breakfast at this hotel.
  • Mid-range ($$): Nak Nakara Hotel, popular 4-star hotel in a great location, within a short walking distance from the Walking Street, Hill Tribe Museum, and Po Khun MengRai Monument. Also close to the Night Bazaar and Chiang Rai Bus Terminal. It has car rental/ laundry services, an outdoor pool, and family rooms.
  • Budget ($): Sleepy House Chiang Rai, 3-star sustainable good value for money bed and breakfast situated in a prime location, close to Clock Tower and Saturday Night Walking Street. It is also in a quiet area a few minutes away from the night bazaar and Bus Terminal 1.

2. Chiang Rai Riverside

The Riverside area in Chiang Rai is a picturesque and tranquil part of the city, offering a different atmosphere compared to the bustling city center. 

The Riverside area provides beautiful views of the Mae Kok River. Many accommodations along the riverfront offer a serene setting with peaceful scenery.

There are several restaurants and cafes along the riverbank where you can enjoy a meal with a view.

While it may not be as central as the Clock Tower area, the Riverside is still within reasonable distance to some cultural attractions, temples, and museums.

Best places to stay in Chiang Rai Riverside for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): The Riverie by Katathani SHA Extra Plus, 5-star hotel located on Kraisorasit Rd  in a peaceful area along the Kok River, 15-20 mins walk to the city center. 
  • Luxury ($$$): The Imperial River House Resort, Chiang Rai, 5-star accommodation located on the banks of the River Kok, offering rooms with views over the river. The hotel offers free airport shuttle, Good Breakfast, and free parking.
  • Mid-range ($$): The Legend Chiang Rai Boutique River Resort & Spa, 3-star riverfront hotel offers stunning views of the hills, mountains and river. The hotel has van transfer service on weekends to Night Bazaar and the walking street. It has family rooms and wonderful breakfasts.

3. Near Chiang Rai International Airport/ Highway 1

If you have early morning or late-night flights, staying near the airport can be convenient, reducing travel time to and from your accommodation.

Best places to stay close to the Airport/ highway 1:

  • Budget ($): One Budget Chiangrai Airport, great 2-star hotel conveniently located close to Mae Fah Luang – Chiang Rai International Airport and Big C shopping mall, featuring 24-hour front desk and free parking for those who drive.
  • Budget ($): Annahouse, great guest house located close to highway no 1 and the airport. 
  • Budget ($): Benja369 บ้านเบญจา, this homestay located right on highway 1, featuring rooms with air conditioning and free private parking.

4. The Golden Triangle Area

The Golden Triangle is a unique and historically significant area, known for its role in the opium trade and as a meeting point of three countries. The views of the Mekong River and the surrounding landscapes can be stunning.

The Golden Triangle tends to be quieter and more peaceful compared to the city center. There are several attractions in the Golden Triangle, including the Hall of Opium Museum and various temples.

You can take river cruises along the Mekong River, providing a scenic and leisurely way to explore the area.

Best places to stay in The Golden Triangle Area:

  • Luxury ($$$): Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, 5-star accommodation located in the heart of the Golden Triangle, offering mountain’s views in Myanmar and Laos. It offers free airport shuttle services. You can try  elephant camp experience, countryside tour, yoga, cycling and boat tour along the Mekong River.
  • Mid-range ($$): Imperial Golden Triangle Resort, 4-star good value for money hotel that has views of the Mekong and Ruak Rivers. It is in a great location within walking distance from restaurants and shops.
  • Budget ($): Buakham Rim Khong บัวคำริมโขง, 2-star charming hotel situated on the bank of Khong Rive, surrounded by tropical gardens. You can find a Seven-Eleven convenience store right at the front of the hotel.

5. The Wat Rong Khun – White Temple Area

The Wat Rong Khun, also known as the White Temple, is one of Chiang Rai’s most famous attractions. It’s located a bit outside the city center, and the area around it has a distinct atmosphere. 

The area around the White Temple tends to be quieter and more peaceful compared to the city center. It provides a serene environment, especially in the evening after the crowds have dispersed.

The White Temple area has attracted various artists and craftsmen. You might find local art galleries and workshops showcasing the work of talented individuals.

Best places to stay in The White Temple Area:


In conclusion, the Clock Tower, Riverside, Airport/Highway 1, Golden Triangle, and White Temple are the best places to stay in Chiang Rai for first-timers and tourists. These are generally safe areas to book accommodations, but it is recommended to always stay alert no matter where you stay.

You can continue reading about other destinations in Thailand in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Chiang Rai. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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