One place that you shouldn’t miss while you’re in Chiang Rai is the Wat Rong Khun or famously known as the ‘White Temple’ by the farangs. Wat Rong Khun is a contemporary, privately owned temple in the style of Buddhist Temple. This temple is special in its own way. It is all painted in white and it is owned by Mr. Chalermchai, the man behind of the designation, construction and opening in 1997, making it one of the privately owned temple in the kingdom of Thailand.
Many tourists like me will be fascinated by the designs and architecture of the temple. Each of the design in the temple has its own symbolize meaning on it. As you came across the White Temple, the first thing you will encounter is the ‘presence of Thousands hands and a bridge”. This symbolizes on the Buddhist teachings that show the way to escape from the temptations, desires and greed and focus on the mind instead.
As you pass through the bridge, you will slowly approach the ubosot, where the main building of the white temple. It is reachable by crossing a bridge over a small lake. In front of the bridge is a circular area with hundreds of reaching hands that symbolize desire, This area represent human suffering and hell. The bridge is being labeled as Bridge of The Cycle of Rebirth. It signifies the crossing over from the cycle of death and rebirth into a state free of suffering.
After the second bridge, you will encounter the most important building of the temple, the Ubosot. It is an all white building with fragments of reflective glass in the plaster. The ubosot is one of the important figure in the white temple. On the back wall of the Ubosot is a golden mural of the Buddha.
How to get here?
Wat Rong Khun is at Chiang Rai, approximately 3 hours drive from Chiang Mai. To get to White Temple, one can choose to stay in Chiang Rai for a night before enrooting to Chiang Khong (The border of Thai-Lao). There are lots of songtheaws or tuk tuk from Chiang Rai to White Temple.
If you would like to do a day trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, alternatively you can choose some tour packages offered by the travel agents outside the old city. I visited White Temple using TravelHub Chiang Mai’s service. I would highly recommend to use this travel service if you have time constraint or a guide to escort you. They do provide private tour as per request.
Expectations and recommendations
Since it’s one of the must visit attractions in Chiang Rai, you will expect to see lots of tourists. However, it is best to spend at least an hour in this area. Although it is not that big, but it is worth to get in touch with the surroundings or spending time in taking pictures of the temple. Dress respectfully as it is a sacred place and there is no entrance fee required. Open Daily – 8 am to 6 pm