Bright and beautiful – one of the landmarks of Chiang Rai
The Wat Rong Khun – White Temple in the most northern province Chiang Rai is not typical for Thailand. The white color is actually the color of mourning and the temple is not consecrated. Unlike the other nearly 30,000 temples in Thailand, no monks live there. Nevertheless, this site is a tourist attraction in Chiang Rai with thousands of visitors from all over the world. The beauty and purity of the color symbolizes the purity of Buddha. The fine ornaments everywhere do not let the eyes rest. There is much to discover. In the outside area there are already some creepy masks to be seen. When looking down on the bridge to the main room, hands stretch out to the visitors. Inside, the wall paintings invite to discover the many details. The artist Chalermchai Kositpipat has incorporated influences from the western world to create a horror scenario. Unfortunately I can’t show any photos, because taking pictures inside is prohibited.
In May 2014 an earthquake destroyed the crazy paintings inside and left damage to the roof and walls.
At first the builder announced that his life’s work was irreparably destroyed. But after he had overcome the first shock and received much encouragement, the temple was restored and expanded. The damages have been repaired and the temple is open again to search for pictures of Michael Jackson and Osama bin Laden, rockets and Batman.
Again, thousands of visitors from all over the world come to see the radiant beauty of Chiang Rai province. Mainly Chinese travel groups and in the winter months local tourists populate the site. Postcards, posters and the like can be bought in an exhibition in an outbuilding. The entrance was free in former times, now you can get in for 50 Baht.
By the way, the facility is far from being finished. It should be ready around 2070. So we can look forward to a lot more, which is why it might be worthwhile to go there more often. Why the construction is taking so long is easily explained: To be independent of major donors, Chalermchai accepts a maximum of 10,000 Baht as a donation. Even with the entrance fees of the many, many visitors it takes some time. (Source: Wikipedia)
My personal tips
At GET YOUR GUIDE you can find many different, individual offers for tours in and to Chiang Rai. Day tours from Chiang Mai are also on offer. However, it is better to make a 2- or more day trip, because the journey can take two to three hours.
If you only want to take pictures from the outside, you can do so without having to pay admission. Only the inner area with the wall paintings inside costs entrance.
If you want to avoid the big crowds, you should come early in the morning. In any case the chances are higher outside the main season. That means not in the winter months or around Chinese New Year or Songkran.
Important to know
Situation: Wat Rong Khun lies few kilometers south of Chiang Rai at the highway No. 1. GoogleMaps
Directions: Easy. E.g. from the bus station in the city center take a public bus in the direction of Phayao or Lampang and get off at the big intersection to walk two hundred meters. Or take a tuk-tuk or taxi directly to the entrance. If you come with your own car, you can use a large parking lot behind the complex.
White Temple Chiang Rai opening hours: 8 am to 5 pm throughout the year. There was only one exception when the White Temple was closed to Chinese tourists for a half day in protest.
Food and drink: In front of the temple there are the usual cafés. No one will starve or die of thirst. Opposite is a simple restaurant. The prices are generally higher than in other places in Chiang Rai.
Overnight stays: On Booking.com or Trip.com you will not only find many good hotels and resorts in Chiang Rai, but also two hotels with very good ratings right next to the White Temple: Latisha-House und 777 Food & Bed
The contrary: The black house or Ban Dam at the other end of Chiang Rai: www.stefaninthailand.de/en/black-temple-chiang-rai