Somehow, our plan to visit the white temple in Chiang Rai seems to be jinxed. It almost feels like there is some higher power trying to prevent us from visiting the extraordinary Wat Rong Khun generally known as the White Temple. For a few years, the White Temple is now already very high up on our bucket list. Several times we have been very close to visiting the White Temple in the past but for some reasons we never quite managed it. So this time we really wanted to make it happen. Yes, we have been to the White Temple in Chiang Rai but even this time it was no easy task. Read on if you like to know what obstacles we had to overcome.
On the way from our small island paradise in Indonesia to Switzerland, we had a few days in Thailand. We booked flights from Bangkok to Chiang Rai and found a really nice guesthouse run by a lovely Thai Lady. This time we wanted to visit the White Temple in Chiang Rai and see it with our own eyes. Wat Rong Khun, commonly known as the White Temple is definitel one of the main attraction in this area but there are more things to do.
Chiang Rai is also a good place to spend a few days if you are on a trip through Thailand. Compared to Chiang Mai, it is very quiet. In the night there is almost no traffic but you still have a good range of restaurants and bars. We found a really nice coffee place with great Cappuccinos and we can also recommend the night market and the weekend markets.
We spent three nights in Chiang Rai. Plenty of time to visit the White Temple and other attractions in and around Chiang Rai. That’s at least what we thought. But then Marcel lay in bed for two days and at the end there was only one day left to visit the White Temple before we had to catch our flights back to Bangkok.
With the scooter to the White Temple in Chiang Rai
The White Temple is located about 13 kilometres south of Chiang Rai. We like to be independent and so we hire a motorbike to drive to the White Temple. You can also travel by bus, taxi or joining a guided tour. To hire a scooter is very cheap. We pay THB 250, that’s about USD 7 for a day and there are even cheaper offers available.
There are a few clouds in the sky but there is also some blue sky and the sun is strong and it’s very hot. Perfect conditions for a motorbike ride to the White Temple.
We drive along the Highway No. 1 in southern direction. Suddenly our scooter starts stuttering and then the engine stops completely. And now? We try to start the engine again but without any luck. It feels like there is no fuel but we just filled the tank.
Fixing our scooter the first time
Luckily we are still in the city and just on the other side of the road there is a motorbike mechanic. There seems to be a problem with the fuel hose but after 20 minutes the mechanic is confident that the problem is fixed. Now it is really time to drive to the White Temple.
Unfortunately we are not getting very far. After another 10 kilometres our scooter starts to make trouble again and the engine stops once more. The first repair was cheap. It only cost THB 100, around USD 3 but it seems that they didn’t do a very good Job.
This time we are somewhere along Highway No. 1 in the middle of nowhere. There is no garage close by. The only option is to start pushing the scooter along the highway. We choose to walk back in the direction of Chiang Rai because we passed a car garage a few 100 metres away.
Thai people are very helpful
The guys from the car garage cannot help us because they are specialized in changing car tires but we can use his mobile phone to call the owner of our scooter. He even helps us with translating because the lady on the phone barely speaks English.
There is a motorbike mechanic about one kilometre down the highway and so we start pushing the scooter in this direction. Again we are moving away from the White Temple. We push our scooter along the highway, the sun is burning down and there is no shade and no buildings in sight. Fortunately it doesn’t take long until we have another friendly Thai helping us. A guy stops and we are lifting our scooter onto his pickup.
A few minutes later we stop in front of a motorbike shop and the guy that just gave us a lift even helps with explaining our problem to the mechanic. Again we have to wait. But only a few minutes. A guy with a motorbike arrives in front of the garage and hands us the keys of his motorbike. He apologizes for the hassle and explains us, that the owner of the scooter sent him to exchange the scooters. Our new means of transport is a very stylish, light blue scooter.
In the meantime it’s already 11 but we are not giving up. We really want to see the White Temple today. Again we are on the move and this time hopefully without another stop. It’s only a few more kilometres and that should be possible without another incident.
Just before lunch we arrive at the White Temple. We have seen so many pictures of this extraordinary and beautiful temple and now we are just standing in front of it. We feel fantastic!
Wat Rong Khun – The White Temple in Chiang Rai
It is a really popular tourist magnet and the visitors are being hauled in with big buses. A constant flow of visitors is walking through the gardens and the temple. Many of them Chinese. During lunch time, the temple grounds are closed and during this time it’s relatively peaceful.
As always, we like to spend a bit more time and so we see many different groups arriving, walking around, taking selfies and disappearing again in their air conditioned buses after 15 minutes.
The creator Chalermchai Kositpipat is an extraordinary artist and architect. The White Temple is his lifework but he also built many more things in and around Chiang Rai. There is still construction work going on at the White Temple. We watched some artists painting the walls inside the temple.
We have also learned that the temple was heavily damaged during an earthquake in Mai 2014 but most of the damage is patched and the temple is absolutely stunning.
We are surprised that there is no entry fee to the White Temple. It is really touristy but in our opinion it is definitely worth to visit the White Temple in Chiang Rai.
What landmarks are on your bucket list for a long time already? Let us know your story. We are looking forward to read your comment.