It is always a fascinating experience to witness a different culture showcasing the uniqueness of its identity. Thailand is one of the countries that I am always at awe. And aside from it is my favorite country to date, I think I will never get tired of its beauty. The beautiful people, the rich culture, the cheap shopping and most of all the tasty Thai food are the reasons why I can’t get enough of Thailand.
It was my 3rd time in the country but it was my first in Chiang Rai. I stayed in Chiang Mai, 3 hours away from the White Temple’s location. Around the city, there are plenty of tours that you can purchase to go to Chiang Rai or you can rent a car for 800 – 1200 baht a day. The tour package I purchased took me to different beautiful tourist destinations in Chiang Rai for only 1200.00 baht including lunch and entrance fees.
- Tour packages available around the city are cheaper compared to what is available online or tour offers in your hotel.
The tour started 8:00 in the morning. The weather was perfect and we were ready for the trip. It was a long drive; however, it was worth it.
We arrived at the white temple around 11:00 in the morning. The place was packed with foreign and local tourists. Since my tour package sorted out my entrance fee, I conveniently went in after our tour guide handed my ticket. Some of the tour participants didn’t have the option to have their entrance fees waived so they paid 50 baht at the ticket booth before entering. We were given 30 mins to explore the place.
Wat Rong Khun (Thai) or known as The White Temple of Chiang Rai is a private owned art exhibit by Chalermchai Kositpipat, a well known Thai artist. He created and designed the Buddhist Temple as an offering to Buddha and believes that it will give him immortal life. It was projected that the temple will finish by 2070, however, our tour guide said that the artist doesn’t want to finish the project, forever his work will continue. Maybe, metaphorically speaking.
The main structures composing the temple are the “The Bridge” which means the cycle of rebirth, the “Gate to Heaven”, the “Ubosot “(holiest prayer room) and the “Golden Building”.
The Bridge – Before you can get to the main temple or the Ubosot, you need to pass by a bridge. This part of the temple is one of my favorite. On both sides of the bridge, are skulls and hands reaching out for help like souls trapped in hell for eternity. It symbolizes that life is a struggle between good and evil.
Gate to Heaven – After passing the bridge and before entering the next section of the temple called the Gate of Heaven, two mythical creatures from Buddhist mythology called Kinnaree, half-human, half-bird creatures stand at the entrance. Before entering the Gate of Heaven another two god-like creatures are guarding the entrance, representing Death and Rahu, they decide the fate of the dead.
Ubosot (Holiest Prayer Room) – the Ubosot is an all white structure with mirrors entrenched decorating the interior design of the shrine. Inside the temple, are paintings that at first will get you confused. Paintings of Michael Jackson, Harry Potter, Superman, Hello Kitty, The matrix and even the scary Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare of Elm Street, a depiction that the world at present is confused, sinful and astray. And by the way, picture taking is prohibited inside.
The Golden Building – It was astonishing to see the beauty of the white temple yet, the golden building made me admire more about the artist idea. We always think that if it is made of gold, it should be something expensive and grand, but having it as a toilet is extra ordinary. Not so sure to why the artist decides to have the toilet as a stand out, but it represents how people focus on worldly desires and money while the white temple symbolize to focus on the mind.
Entrance Fee: 50 Baht
Best Time to Visit the Temple
If you are staying in Chiang Rai, it’s best to be in the temple’s location as early as possible probably 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning. If you arrive at around 9:00AM, expect a pack of tourist at that time. The temple is open whole-year round.
Bus Schedule to White Temple to Chiang Rai
For DIY travelers who doesn’t want to take a tour, there is a bus departing from the old bus station located in the town center.
From 10 AM to 2 PM every 30 minutes
- It takes 20 minutes to the White Temple. Bus Fee: 20 Baht
Going back to town from the white temple is easier, go out from the temple complex, look for the bus stop nearby and ask for a bus going back to the town center.