If you are travelling in South East Asia, you’ll see some strange sights; from the family of 5 and their chickens on the back of a scooter, to the family of pigs casually roaming around the café you’re eating at.
As well as these strange sights, which are normal to locals, South East Asia is home to some strange tourist attractions, the strangest of which most definitely is the White Temple in Chiang Rai.
Officially, the White Temple is called Wat Rong Khun, and is a Buddhist Temple. This piece of work was thought up by Chalermchai Kositpipat, a Thai Architect, and is unconventional to say the least.
I only had one day in Chiang Rai, before heading into Laos, so I thought I’d check it out.
Temples are the main vocal point of many places in SE Asia; primarily due to the main religions being Hindu, and Islam. I’ve visited a number of temples, and temple ruins on the past three months, but this was quite a different experience! The only way I can describe it is like a cross between something out of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Lord of the Rings. Demons coming out of the ground, skulls hanging off trees and a sparkly White Temple.
I’ll let these pictures do the talking, to give you an idea.
In May of this year, there was an Earthquake in Northern Thailand, and the Temple was temporarily closed. Earthquake damage was still evident, something I’m used to after living in Christchurch, New Zealand. They are hoping to restore this within two years.
Visiting the White Temple
Tours are offered from many places in Northern Thailand (namely Chiang Mai), and take in some other sights in the region, but are often overpriced, and give you limited time at the sight itself.
Like most things, the best way to see the White Temple is to do it yourself. If you’re in Chiang Rai, head down to the bus station and catch a bus from stand 8, there are frequent buses, but no real timetable. The bus costs 20 THB (less than 50 cents or about 25p!) one way and takes about 40 minutes. The bus driver will indicate where you need to get off, usually by shouting “you you .. temple”. You have a short walk across a busy highway, to get to the main entrance. Getting back was a challenge. The bus leaves from the opposite side of the road that you got off, but there is no real timetable. I waited an hour. In the meantime, various shady looking local people offered me a ride in the back of their Ute. I waited for the bus (my parents will be pleased to hear!)
There are toilets, a small art gallery (which was closed on my visit) and various shops and cafes.
Note: Wear long pants, if you’re female. I wore shorts and was unable to gain access to some of the smaller temples (this is a mistake I make on frequent occasions in Asia!)
If you’re in Chiang Rai, I’d have a wander out to this place, it was certainly the most unusual experiences of my trip. Chiang Rai was also brief, but had amazing street food and a night market, and has much more to explore, including tramping trips and a beautiful countryside.
Have you visited the White Temple in Chiang Rai?
What is the strangest place you’ve visited on your travels?