Chiang Rai is a small city, with most services grouped around the main north–south street, Phaholyothin Road, while Singhaklai Road is the main artery on the north side of town, parallel to the river. Chiang Rai itself has few must-do attractions, so a casual walk around the city will take a few hours.
Direction-givers usually orient restaurants, markets, and other attractions based on their proximity to two local attractions: the Clock Tower and Night Market. The gilded Clock Tower in the city center is at the junction of Banphaprakan and Jet Yod Roads. It was designed in 2008 by famed local artist Chalermchai Kositpipat of White Temple fame and serves as a landmark and traffic circle. Every night it is briefly illuminated with multicolored lights and accompanying music nightly at 7, 8, and 9pm. If you happen to be by the Clock Tower, stop for the “show”, otherwise it’s not worth deviating off track.
The other reference point is the Night Market is on Phaholyothin Road, next to the bus station, and the Saturday Walking Street on Thanalai Road, running east to west from just south of the King Mengrai statue. Both the walking street and the night market will feel familiar to counterparts in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. But as with most things, the further from the urban center you go, the more local the patrons and the commodities tend to be. That’s true here, but if you arrive at the Night Market thinking of it more as cultural anthropology rather than a shopping destination, your expectations will be in line with reality.
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