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Traveling

Visiting the White Temple of Chiang Rai (Wat Rong Khun) May 15, 2016

Visiting the White Temple of Chiang Rai (Wat Rong Khun)

GPS waypoint: 19°49'27.7"N 99°45'47.2"E
Location: Chiang Rai Housing 1, San Sai, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000
Features: open all year round, open 8am until 6pm, admission is free

2070 Completion
Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple is Chiang Rai's biggest crowd drawer. Temples are usually gilded in Thailand, or the rest of the Buddhist world for that matter. But an iconoclast artist broke the mold and built a Snow White Buddhist temple 13 kms south of Chiang Rai City in 1997. It's the first installment of many. The entire project is set to complete in 2070.

Snow Blind White
The temple grounds are massive with many structures in place, most of them immaculately white. The Ubosot, or the main temple structure with its fiery white presence dominates the templescape in the middle of a pond. Some parts of the temple system are embedded by small mirrors to reflect the sun giving it an illuminating presence and glow - it's dazzlingly sparkling! The whole scene came across as both intense and insane!

Visiting the White Temple of Chiang Rai (Wat Rong Khun)
in front of the Ubosot in all its white purity

Chalermchai Kositpipat
The temple was already pre-existing before it became the White Temple - but it was in bad shape with no funds to give it a facelift. Then came Chalermchai Kositpipat. Normally, artists make a small statement in their gallery to give themselves credit for their body of work. At the White Temple however, Chalermchai Kositpipat, the artist who made it all happen, is making a single-handed attempt to eclipse his work by featuring himself - like a master showman taking the limelight. You see his face everywhere, his cut-out (for people to take a picture with), self portraits, pictures of him with celebrities and royalty, etc. His omnipresence cannot be missed. Going beyond his self-aggrandizing though, he spent his own money to build the temple, B40 million as of last count. Without argument, he is a very dedicated and talented artist.

Wish Hanging Ornament
You can buy for B30, a hanging ornament where you can write a wish. It is then hung to some of the temple structures en mass...by the hundreds of thousands serving as part of the structure itself. And it stays there for as long as the temple system stands - probably forever. This reminds me of the Temple burning in Burningman. An ornate and grand temple made of combustible wood and paper is erected in the desert where people who have lost a loved one can write something for them in a piece of paper. They then insert the paper within the wedges of the temple structure. On the night of the burn, the entire Temple is set to flame and fire engulfs the whole structure. People watch with tears in their eyes. The White Temple wish-feature isn't exactly as moving and profound as that of Burningman.

Ending Thoughts
The artist could have stopped building when the Ubosot was done - afterall, it's the main deal and he would have cast the die on his immortality by that. But he continues to build and even after his death, the construction will continue...with his money. I guess there is something profound to be said about that.

For its uniqueness, surrealism and bold statement, you should see the White Temple when in Chiang Rai.

--- TheLoneRider

it was a 13.1 km ride and it was good to be back in the saddle finally arriving at the White Temple it would seem like the guardian of the temple came from the Underworld with a cardboard cut-out of the artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat
the White Temple spurred tourism in the area - merchandising, food stalls, souvenir shops, etc these rest stations are crafted from solid hardwood feeling close the White Temple is not short on tourists
Hollywood meets Buddhism this should be the official residence of Snow White it would seem odd, but there is also a gilded temple expansion is still on-going
a white gazebo maintenance is all around to keep the place clean and immaculately white more white structures...they are everywhere the pond spanning several white structures
a plea to the Philippines' newly elected president, Rodrigo Duterte - written on a 'wish ornament' that would forever hang on the temple system these 'wish ornaments' hang by the thousands on the some ceilings ...and the 'wish ornaments' are probably hung in the million across the entire temple system a monk busy with his writing
this structure looks like a stupa with a silhouette of Buddha more structures being built this would seem like a furry temple some structures are made with a mosaic of mirrors to give it a shiny glow when the sun reflects on it
a meditation hall where a monk sits in front of Buddha surreal trees on a surreal temple tourist monks (I saw them taking pictures and posing for the temples) sculpture...bad people drowning in Hell...many corrupt politicians come to mind
regal elegance the Buddha in meditation hmmm...not sure about brown wooden windows on a Snow White temple satellite temples in signature white
Suknirand Hotel

Suknirand Hotel

Location: 424/1. Banphaprakarn Rd., Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand
Coordinates: 19°54'24.0"N 99°49'48.1"E
Tel: (053) 711.055, 711.801, 712.036, 713.702
Fax: (053) 713.701
Email: suknirand99@hotmail.com
Features: clean and affordable hotel near Clock Tower

Chiang Rai FYI / Tips

  • the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located around the Clock Tower area
  • it's not beneath the elites to eat street food (but I suspect that's all over Thailand, not just Chiang Rai)

How to Get to Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai being a big city, nearly all cities and towns connect to it by bus or plane (no trains though).

  1. if you are dropped-off at the Bus Terminal 2 Station (the new one), you need to take a blue songthaew to the old Bus Station (B15) which is in the heart of the city. If you checked-in near the Clock Tower, chances are, you can just walk it from the old bus station to your hotel. Otherwise, you may have to ride another blue songthaew from the old bus station to your hotel. If you take the tuk-tuk from the new Bus Station, you may be charged something like B170 to be taken to a hotel not walking distance from the old bus station

Things to do, Places to go in Chiang Rai

  1. Wat Rong Khun - The White Temple - designed by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the construction commenced in 1997 with 2070 estimated completion date. This is probably Chiang Rai's most visited tourist attraction (read blog)
  2. Baan Dam - Black House Museum - a macabre repertoire of Thawan Duchanee, a Chiang Rai artist who expresses his art around the dark side of humanity. 9am - 5pm w/ 12-1pm siesta, free
  3. Night Bazaar - a night market on foot for clothes, food and tourist merchandise. 2 sound stages for cultural shows and live music. One stage is in Thai while the other stage seems for tourists - cultural dance, English music, etc. Big open spaces for eating and drinking, open until about 11pm
  4. Saturday Night Walking Street - similar to Night Bazaar with its food stalls and merchandising, but the stalls are lined up on the streets
  5. Clock Tower - this is an iconic landmark in the heart of Chiang Rai where most of the tourist hotels, restos and recreation areas are clustered. Minor audio and light display at 7,8 and 9pm
  6. Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) - this is the original spot where the Emerald Buddha was first discovered in 1434 when lightning hit a chedi and revealed the Buddha within. The original Buddha has been moved to several locations through its history and finally rests in Bangkok. What resides in Chiang Rai is a jade replica
  7. Singha Park - almost 13km2 in size and 450m elevation, the park houses an assortment of entertaining and recreational facilities - rock climbing, zip lining, view point scenery, tour of tea plantation, bike tours, animal park, etc.
  8. Mae Fah Luang Art and Culture Park - B200 fee, opens 8:30am. Great garden, natural setting, abundant Teak wood carvings on display, quiet, gallery, museum pieces, etc.

Chiang Rai Cost Index

backpacker places (US$1 = Thai Baht 34.89 = Php 46.95 as of May 3, 2016)
  • B50 small bottle of Leo beer at The Night Bazaar (recommended)
  • B35 street Roti with banana, egg and chocolate
  • B40 papaya salad (Som Tam)
  • B30 street hot coffee
  • B40 pad thai at The Night Bazaar
  • B200 one hour massage
  • B50 bicycle rental, 24 hours at Chiang Rai Hotel. Other places charge between B70-B100/day
  • B30/k laundry service
  • B180 dorm bed in a fan room, shared toilet at Big Butter Hostel (too far away though)
  • B14 1.5 liter drinking water at 7-11
  • B500 Standard Room for 2 pax, a/c, ensuite bathroom, tv at Suknirand Hotel during low season (B600 for high season)
  • B150 dorm bed, a/c in May (low season) at Ti Amo Guest House

Thailand Blogs by TheLoneRider

    Bangkok
  1. Loving Bangkok All Over Again Feb 22-26, 2016
  2. Adventure Hostel Review Feb 22-26, 2016
  3. Hotel Review: Riva Surya Bangkok Oct. 20, 2014
  4. The Shopping Malls of Bangkok Oct 6-20, 2014
  5. Bangkok's Street Food Delight Oct 6-20, 2014
  6. Bangkok Revisited 3 Oct 6-20, 2014
  7. Bangkok Dec 31, 2005


  8. Chiang Khong
  9. Ten Days in Chiang Khong, Thailand Apr 30 - May 9, 2016


  10. Chiang Mai
  11. A First Timer in Chiang Mai Apr 9-23, 2016
  12. Dance Mandala in Chiang Mai at The Yoga Tree Apr 19, 2016
  13. Songkran Waterfight Festival in Chiang Mai Apr 13-15, 2016
  14. Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Chiangmai (Thailand) April 9-10, 2016


  15. Chiang Rai
  16. Exploring Chiang Rai, Thailand May 11-16, 2016
  17. Visiting the White Temple of Chiang Rai (Wat Rong Khun) May 15, 2016


  18. Chiang Saen
  19. Exploring Chiang Saen, Thailand Apr 28-30, 2016


  20. Mae Sai
  21. 4 Days in Mae Sai, Thailand Apr 25-28, 2016
  22. Border Crossing - Mae Sai (Thailand) to Tachileik (Myanmar) Apr 23, 2016


  23. Pai
  24. Exploring Pai, Thailand May 19-24, 2016
  25. Visiting the Land Split in Pai, Thailand May 23, 2016
  26. Trekking the Ridges of Pai Canyon May 23, 2016
  27. Climbing up the White Buddha (Wat Phra That Mae Yen) May 21, 2016


  28. Pak Chong
  29. Pak Chong (Thailand) En Route to Siem Reap (Cambodia) Mar 20-21, 2016
  30. Goodbye Thai Plum Village Mar 20, 2016
  31. Yoga at Thai Plum Village Mar 19, 2016
  32. Pond Picnic with the Monastics Mar 14, 2016
  33. Sentence Expansion Mar 12, 2016
  34. Alms Round of the Thai Plum Village Monastics Mar 10, 2016
  35. First Day of Teaching English at Thai Plum Village Mar 8, 2016
  36. Cyber Monk Redefined Mar 6, 2016
  37. Thai Plum Village, Day 6: Plum Village and Vipassana Mar 2, 2016
  38. Thai Plum Village, Day 5: Visa Snag Mar 1, 2016
  39. Plum Village, Day 4: Picnic with the Monastics on Lazy Monday Feb 29, 2016
  40. Plum Village, Day 2-3: Getting Settled Feb 27-28, 2016
  41. Plum Village, Day 1: Arrival Feb 26, 2016


  42. Phan District, Chiang Rai Province
  43. Yoga with Amm Prajna Pitchaya and the Sivananda yoga community of Phan May 16-18, 2016
  44. Visiting the Nam Lot and the Pha Khong Caves of Phan District May 18, 2016

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Reader Comments:

Rea RivasRea Rivas
(May 17, 2016) Am I welcome to live there? haha

May 15, 2016

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Chiang Rai Hotels

Suknirand Hotel, Chiang Rai hotel






Chiang Rai Hotels

Suknirand Hotel, Chiang Rai
Suknirand Hotel
budget hotel
near Clock Tower

Chiang Rai, Thailand




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