If you’d heard of Chiang Rai you’d know the famed magic of the White Temple. But beyond the pictures, this is a wonder you need to see, feel, and experience for yourself.
So without further ado, here is all you need to know about the White Temple.
History Behind the White Temple
Despite being holy ground, the White Temple is actually an art exhibit, privately owned by renown visual artist Chalermchai Kositpipat.
The previously Buddhist temple was fated to be taken down after nearly being in ruins with repairs much needed.
But Chalermchai saw this as an artisitic opportunity to restore the site himself, personally funding this passion project that would take up nearly two decades, bringing Wat Rong Khun aka the White Temple to life.
The temple is filled with mythical creatures, guardians and deities, all religiously symbolic of Buddha’s teachings to trade greed and desire for the path of enlightenment.
Why You Should Visit the White Temple
Although the White Temple has long attracted the likes of tourists, I still think it’s one of the more hidden gems of Thailand, plus it strikingly breaks tradition.
I mean, the entirety of the site is drowned in pristine white to idle the likes to Buddha himself.
The details, the craftsmanship, it’s unique, it’s bizarre and it’s breathtakingly beautiful and yes, it’s well worth the visit.
Essential Info for the White Temple
Getting from Chiang Rai to the White Temple
If you’re coming sans tour groups (which we did) I highly suggest renting a car as the White Temple goes a bit beyond the city center. This will take you out around 13km or 15 minutes.
Otherwise ordering a Tuk-Tuk or Taxi is your best option 🙂
Entrance Fee & Opening Times
The temple complex is free, however, as a foreigner, you should have 50 bhat on hand to enter the main temple.
You can wander the grounds from 8 am-5 pm on weekdays and til 5:30 pm on weekends. It’s also best practice to carry some form of ID with you, just in case.
What Should I Wear?
Although it’s not “technically” sacred as an art exhibition, all locals dress modestly, meaning you should follow suit.
In general, this means covered shoulders and knees. I wore legging, a flowy white top and for some added charm, a colorful Thai scarf.
Best Time to Visit?
Going against common suggestion, I highly suggest you save your trip for the late afternoon. People are buzzing to get in first thing in the morning, and the crowds show it.
In addition, the lightning hits the temples best in the afternoon, which leads me to…
Best Photo Spots
Waltzing over the bridge of “The Cycle of Rebirth” feels cinematic. Hundreds of hands reaching symbolic of chaotic desire and the curved narrow walkway make a perfect spot for a dramatic shoot.
Outer Left Side
If you do happen to come during the more touristy hours a good way to bypass the crowds without too much of a photobomb is taking a picture on the outer left side of the temple.
This gives you plenty of time to play around with poses, even if they don’t all hit the mark.
The most picturesque opportunity in my opinion lies in the Ubosot, this can be found on the inner sides of the temple (but the left is aestecially preferred), with stunning details that make for a lovely frame.
Extra Tips & Spots to See
After you view the White Temple I highly suggest (before or after) soaking in the beauty of the grounds.
Wat Rong Khun is covered in beautiful sculptures, installations, sceneries and lesser-known Golden buildings to wander, giving you all the ooh and ahh moments.
So, has the White Temples made your bucketlist? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram @candaceabroad, until next time.