White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)
Artist Chalermchai Kositpipat started building the White Temple in 1997, and it remains a work in progress: some estimate that the structure and its grounds won’t be finished until 2070. Yet the brilliant exterior—made from a mix of white paint and mirrored chips—makes Wat Rong Khun one of Chiang Rai’s most popular sights.
Things to Know Before You Go
The temple charges a small entrance fee.
Avoid revealing clothing; and wear shoes that you can easily slip off; as at other Thai Buddhist temples, you’ll be required to remove your shoes before entering the White Temple.
The White Temple is accessible for travelers in wheelchairs and has adapted bathrooms.
How to Get There
The White Temple is located just outside the city of Chiang Rai, about 8 miles (13 kilometers) southwest of the city center center, near Highway 1 (and not far from Highway 18, the main road that takes you to Chiang Mai). You can reach the site on a local bus that leaves from Bus Terminal 1, or grab a songthaew taxi (which offers seating in the back of a pickup truck) near the market on Uttarakit Road.
When to Get There
The White Temple opens quite early in the morning and stays open until late afternoon. It is the city’s biggest draw, so to get a good view of the site, consider staying in Chiang Rai overnight so that you can get there early and beat the big tourist buses. The temple is most crowded during peak tourism season (December–January) and on weekends.
How to Spend a Day in Chiang Rai
Much smaller than its better-known neighbor, Chiang Mai, the city of Chiang Rai offers plenty of great sights, from hill-tribe villages, lively street markets, and great food to Kok River cruises and mountain hiking trails. After seeing the White Temple, visit the Baan Dam Museum (sometimes called the Black Temple), the Blue Temple (Wat Rong Sear Tean), and Wat Phra Kaew, the original home of the Emerald Buddha now located in Bangkok.
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