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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
    Bangkok
  1. Pad Thai at Thip Samai, Bangkok Oct 16, 2018
  2. Birthday Walkabout Oct 16, 2018
  3. Coming to Terms with Donations Oct 14, 2018
  4. Feelin' Da Blues at Adhere the 13th Blues Bar Oct 12, 2018
  5. Visiting the Grand Palace of Thailand Oct 12, 2018
  6. A Web Mandate in Bangkok Oct 8, 2018
  7. 29 Days in Bangkok: Thank You and Goodbye Aug 27 - Sep 24, 2018
  8. Calling the Bangkok Police Sep 23, 2018
  9. Movie Review: Mindfulness and Murder (2011) Sep 22, 2018
  10. Yoga Inversions at Now's Fitness Gym Sep 19, 2018
  11. Flow Yoga with Teacher Kea at Now's Fitness Sep 18, 2018
  12. Movie Review: Under Construction (2015) Sep 15, 2018
  13. Walking Tour of Little India Sep 15, 2018
  14. Vinyasa Yoga with Teacher That at Now's Fitness Sep 14, 2018
  15. Abs Workout with Teacher San at Now's Fitness Sep 13, 2018
  16. Exercise Ball Workout with Teacher Bie at Now's Fitness Sep 11, 2018
  17. Exploring the Amphawa Floating Market Sep 9, 2018
  18. Exploring the Tree-Engulfed Wat Bang Kung Temple Sep 9, 2018
  19. Parting of the Maeklong Railway Market with a Passing Train Sep 9, 2018
  20. Exploring Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Sep 9, 2018
  21. Horse Racing at the The Royal Bangkok Sports Club Sep 8, 2018
  22. Fight Class with Teacher San at Now's Fitness Sep 7, 2018
  23. Exploring the Bangkok Art Book Fair 2018 Sep 6, 2018
  24. Circuit Training with Mild at Now's Fitness Sep 5, 2018
  25. Gentle Flow Yoga with Nuch at Now's Fitness, Bangkok Sep 4, 2018
  26. A Yogi Lost in a Modern Gym - Now's Fitness Sep 3, 2018
  27. Abundance at On Nut, Bangkok Aug 30-Sep 1, 2018
  28. Outside Looking In Aug 29, 2018
  29. Back in Bangkok After 5 Weeks Aug 27, 2018
  30. 15 Days in Bangkok July 10-24, 2018
  31. Peoplescape: Bangkok July 10-24, 2018
  32. Hatha and Yantra Yoga Fusion July 10-24, 2018
  33. Revisiting Terminal 21 Mall, Bangkok July 23, 2018
  34. Rope Skipping, 4mins Full-on July 22, 2018
  35. Sunday Visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market July 17, 2018
  36. Fork on the Road: Abundance or Poverty by Choice? July 16, 2018
  37. Loving Bangkok All Over Again Feb 22-26, 2016
  38. Hotel Review: Adventure Hostel Bangkok July 11, 2018
  39. Hotel Review: Riva Surya Bangkok Oct 20, 2014
  40. Exploring the Shopping Malls of Bangkok Oct 6-20, 2014
  41. Bangkok's Street Food Delight Oct 6-20, 2014
  42. Bangkok Revisited 3 Oct 6-20, 2014
  43. A First Timer in Bangkok December 31, 2005 - January 3, 2006


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


  46. Chiang Mai
  47. Mike Chong Aug 8, 2018
  48. An Intimate Conversation with my Universe in Chiang Mai Aug 8, 2018
  49. Kneaded and Pampered at Zira Spa Aug 4, 2018
  50. Savoring a Baht 3,500 Birds Nest Soup at Natural Bird Nest by Burapa Aug 3, 2018
  51. Yoga Exploration at The Yoga Tree with Gernot Aug 1, 2018
  52. Yoga In The Park - Chiang Mai July 31, 2018
  53. Yoga with Adam at Hidden House Yoga, Chiang Mai July 29, 2018
  54. 2 Weeks in Chiang Mai July 25 - Aug 7, 2018
  55. A First Timer in Chiang Mai Apr 9-23, 2016
  56. Dance Mandala in Chiang Mai at The Yoga Tree Apr 19, 2016
  57. Songkran Waterfight Festival in Chiang Mai Apr 13-15, 2016
  58. Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Chiangmai (Thailand) April 9-10, 2016


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


  62. Chiang Saen
  63. Exploring Chiang Saen, Thailand Apr 28-30, 2016


  64. Mae Sai
  65. 4 Days in Mae Sai, Thailand Apr 25-28, 2016
  66. Border Crossing - Mae Sai (Thailand) to Tachileik (Myanmar) Apr 23, 2016


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


  72. Pak Chong
  73. Pak Chong (Thailand) En Route to Siem Reap (Cambodia) Mar 20-21, 2016
  74. Goodbye Thai Plum Village Mar 20, 2016
  75. Yoga at Thai Plum Village Mar 19, 2016
  76. Pond Picnic with the Monastics Mar 14, 2016
  77. Sentence Expansion Mar 12, 2016
  78. Alms Round of the Thai Plum Village Monastics Mar 10, 2016
  79. First Day of Teaching English at Thai Plum Village Mar 8, 2016
  80. Cyber Monk Redefined Mar 6, 2016
  81. Thai Plum Village, Day 6: Plum Village and Vipassana Mar 2, 2016
  82. Thai Plum Village, Day 5: Visa Snag Mar 1, 2016
  83. Plum Village, Day 4: Picnic with the Monastics on Lazy Monday Feb 29, 2016
  84. Plum Village, Day 2-3: Getting Settled Feb 27-28, 2016
  85. Plum Village, Day 1: Arrival Feb 26, 2016


  86. Phan District, Chiang Rai Province
  87. Yoga with Amm Prajna Pitchaya and the Sivananda yoga community of Phan May 16-18, 2016
  88. 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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