Wat Rong Khun: White Temple in Chiang Rai
The White Temple in Chiang Rai, also known as Wat Rong Khun, is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Thailand. The history of this temple doesn`t go back too long, because it is one of the country’s new temples. Already from afar, the magnificent building shines in its bright white color, and with its extraordinary architecture and many unique details, this temple has quickly become one of the most beautiful temples in the country. Therefore, a trip to the White Temple is almost a must do on any Northern Thailand tour and should not be missed on a holiday in Chiang Rai. But also from Chiang Mai you have the possibility to do day trips to the White Temple.
In this guide we share all the important information about a visit to the White Temple of Chiang Rai. Additionally, we provide lots of useful tips about getting there, entrance fee, best time to visit and opening hours.
General infos about the White Temple in Chiang Rai
Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple of Chiang Rai, is one of the modern temples in Thailand. This temple jewel was created by the Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, who had financed the construction of the White Temple from his own hand and with the help of donations. The history of this artwork began in 1997, and although the temple has not yet been fully completed, it is now one of the most famous sites in northern Thailand.
A setback came in 2014, when a magnitude 6.3 earthquake severely damaged the White Temple and its murals. However, with lots of work and effort this damage was repaired relatively quickly. The plans for the temples are that the whole project will be completed in 2070. Therefore, we are already excited what will be the final result of this already spectacular work of art. Nowadays, the White Temple is a popular stop while traveling through northern Thailand and a popular destination for tours from Chiang Mai.
What to expect when visiting the White Temple
The White Temple of Chiang Rai is in every way extraordinary. Even the color white is for a temple in Thailand special, because it symbolizes grief. In this art project, Buddha’s white color symbolizes purity and wisdom, which is said to “shine over the earth and the universe”.
First of all, when visiting the White Temple you can expect a lot of bizarre things. Already at the entrance through the turnstile you follow a fixed route, which is a one-way street. Reversing is not allowed here anymore. The snow-white main building is reached via the bridge of the “rebirth cycle“. Just before this bridge, hundreds of hands from hell will reach after you: they are the symbol of unbridled desires. So, the path to happiness symbolically follows temptations, greed and worldly cravings.
After the visitors have crossed the bridge, they come directly to the “heaven’s gate“. This is guarded by two mystical creatures. The Death deciding life and Rahu deciding the fate of the dead. In front of the main building, the Ubosot, there are still several Buddha statues in a meditative pose.
Once inside of the white temple of Chiang Rai, photography is prohibited. Here, the pure white turns into a really weird, colorful and confusing decoration. Murals shows demons, flames, the burning Twin Towers, Michael Jackson, Batman and Freddy Krueger. But also Harry Potter and Superman have been immortalized in this temple. This mix of religion and chaos, malevolence, heroes of the modern age, art and pop is really unique and certainly can`t be found in any other temple in Thailand.
Next to the many white temples you can`t miss the gold-yellow temple building. While the white main temple represents the spirit or the soul, the golden stands for the worldly body. Incidentally, the toilets for temple visitors are also located here. Decorated entirely in gold both inside and out, they are probably the most amazing washing rooms in the country.
When visiting the white temple, you should take some time, because at every corner you will discover something new and interesting. If you need a break, there are a few nice cafes and restaurants in front of the temple. But also shopping possibilities are provided.
How to get to the White Temple in Chiang Rai
The White Temple is not located directly in Chaing Rai. It situated a bit outside the city, about 14 kilometers south of the city center. For getting there on your own from Chiang Rai you can either use TukTuks, Songthaew, taxi or your own scooter. TukTuks or taxis cost about 300 baht round trip. With the Songthaew from near Nightbazar the ride costs around 20 baht each way.
We especially recommend you to use the grab app in Chiang Rai, a taxi app that shows you the fare in advance.
Tip: Near the temple is the popular Singha Park, which can be well connected with a visit to Wat Rong Khun.
Entrance Fee & Opening Hours
Opening hours: Wat Rang Khun opens daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. The best time to visit the White Temple is either early in the morning at sunrise, when the temple is kissed by the first rays of sunshine. Or in the late afternoon, when the afternoon sun gives way to beautiful light plays. Lots of visitors can be expected at any time of the day.
Entrance Fee: The Admission to the White Temple is not for free anymore. The entrance fee is at the moment 100 Baht per person. If you want to admire the temple only from the outside, then you don´t have to pay any entrance fee.
Day Trips from Chiang Mai
If you want to visit this fantastic temple from Chiang Mai, you can also book a day trip from Chiang Mai to the White Temple. Although the journey takes about 3 hours, many still join a tour to admire this unique temple.
Usually there are some even more attractions to visit on this kind of guided tour. For example, you have the opportunity to admire the Golden Triangle, tea plantations or explore the Black Temple and the Blue Temple, another art project.
Tours can be booked on-site, or if value good customer reviews tour can also booked online. So far, we had good experiences with the online portal GetyourGuide. Here you can browse through a huge selection of excursions and most of the tours can be canceled 24 hours in advance.
Best places to stay in Chiang Rai
To explore the White Temple, it is best to book your accommodation in the center of Chiang Rai. Here are our absolute top recommendations, summarized at a glance:
- Hotel: A really great accommodation in a perfect location is the Mora Boutique Hotel. This hotel convinces with a gorgeous pool, really great rooms, unbelievable delicious breakfast and free afternoon snack.
- Hostel: As a budget-friendly alternative we can offer you the Hostel Baan Mai Kradan. This really cool hostel is especially popular with backpackers and long term travellers.
Conclusion: The White Temple of Chiang Rai is just breathtaking – so it´s no wonder that the temple is one of the most famous landmarks in Thailand. Especially the many small details and the art inside are fascinating. Thus the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat has created an incredible masterpiece and therefore a trip to the White Temple is absolutely worth it.
Find the best Accommodation in Chiang Rai:
More about Northern Thailand:
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. Meaning that if you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.