When you are staying in the northern part of Thailand, there are so many different things to go and see. Therefore we have chosen to make our suggestion for a good one day tour in Chiang Rai region.
First off – you have to get up pretty early, so rise and shine and get on your way. We rented a a van with a private driver, which was quite cheap, compared to the luxury of having you own driver, and own timetable. This is highly recommendable.
We took of from Chiang Mai and had the first stop after about a hour. Our driver and bulter told us that they thought we should see one of the hot springs, so we topped at the Thaweesin Hotspring, which is really nothing special to see. The hot springs is very popular for sightseeing among tourists, and are combined with mineral baths, which is said to be good for your health. Honestly, in our humble opinion, the hot springs is really not anything to spend time on a one day trip.
The next stop was The White Temple in Chiang Rai, a modern version of a traditional thai temple, with millions of small special details, curves and edges. This is something you should remember to see, even if it seems a little artificial. You can read our full review here
After the White Temple, we headed towards the mountains to visit Khun Jae Waterfall, unfortunately the waterfall was closed because the rainy season has caused to much mud in area. But after what we have been told about this waterfall, you should really go here of it is open.
On this specific day, it was pretty rainy, and as we turned the minivan towards the next destination, the rain just got heavier and heavier. As we arrived at The Golden Triangle, the rain was pouring down and as we hid under our umbrellas, we could enjoy the views over Laos and Myanmar from the spot where the Mekong River meets the Ruak River. The thai side of the golden Triangle hosts a series of big golden buddha statues, elephants and a big treasure ship. When the weather i more friendly, it is possible to board a boat and have a little trip up and down the rivers, to see the triangle from the riverside. The golden triangle is said to be one of the biggest tourist traps in northern Thailand, but as we where hiding under the umbrellas, it was quite peaceful here.
The last stop on our one day tour in Chiang Rai, was the Long Neck Karen village, which is a version of a human zoo, but still very fascinating to see, and the possibility to take some great shots of the Karan tribe members living here. Beware that this is also quite an tourist trap, where you quickly can spend a lot of money on a lot of thing you never knew that you couldn’t live without. You can read our post on the tribe here
All in all the northern part of Thailand has so much to offer, and if you would like to spend one day exploring Chiang Rai, the suggestions above will be possible to see within a day, and have you back in Chiang Mai around 8 pm in the evening. A great way to spend one day sightseeing, on our own without a lot of other tourists around you.
During our time in Chaing Mai, we wanted to see what the northern parts of Thailand can offer. So we hired a private minivan to take us to the area of Chiang Rai, and go explore in the area.
The White Temple in Chiang Rai also known as Wat Rong Khun, is a contemporary unconventional Buddhist temple, designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat in 1997. The temple was damaged by an earthquake in may 2014, but is now opened again as it showed that the main building structures was not servere damaged by the quake.
When we arrived at the temple, the first thing that hit us, was not the shiny white building with thousands of small mirrors, but the huge amount of tourists outside, walking in a strait line towards the brigde to the entrance, to the sound af a guard with a microphone and speakers yelling “Keep moving, and do not touch!” We got into the line, and as we got nearer the temple, we quickly discovered that this has nothing to do with thai culture or history, this is a temple af fantasy and wild ideas. So if you go here to see a traditional thai temple, you will be disappointed, this is a shiny white plastic temple, with guarding deamons, ghostly hands reaching ud from the cycle of death and mirrors everywhere representing the buddhas wisdom shining out across the earth and universe. Much of the temples messages refers to escaping desire, greed and passion to become a sublime buddhist.
In our opinion is the impression that the temple leaves in your soul very artificial, and even though it is a genuine temple, it alle has too much a plastic feel. There are so many different sculptures, paintings and motifs showing predators, superheroes, skulls etc.
Besides the main temple, there are more white building rising from the ground, and the craftsmanship is quite interesting. The shape is mounted in plaster, and mirrors mounted in the wet plaster. Afterwards the entire structure is spray painted bright white, and the workers are hand cleaning each mirror with a sharp blade – what a huge patience these guys must have. The most luxurious toilet building in thailand, is the golden structure which is just opposite the entrance to the park.
So is The White Temple worth a visit? Well – if you are in the area for other reasons, you can drop by and spend 1 or 2 hour here, while you check out this fantasy temple, with all the special details. Traditional thai or not, the level of detail is very impressive.