Visiting The White Temple Of Chiang Rai In Thailand – Wat Rong Khun

December 11, 2016

No visit to Chiang Rai is complete without a stop at the White Temple. It may, arguably, be the best attraction in Chiang Rai and what draws most visitors to this small, northern town of Thailand.

The artist, Ajarn Chalermchai Kositpipat, who is known throughout Thailand, has made this project his life's work. With many years of dedication in designing and constructing this beautiful temple, he continues to grow and improve on it, claiming it will take 90 years to complete.

Additionally, he does not accept any monetary donation from anyone and has financed the project himself so that he can have complete control over it. He believes that funding it himself will allow him artistic freedom. Aside from the project itself, there are continued cleaning and maintenance efforts year-round to keep this temple and it's surroundings in perfect shape.

Unlike other temples in Thailand which are mostly gold, the decision to make it all white was based on representing the purity of The Lord Buddha. There small, reflective mirrors throughout the building are also symbolic in that they represent the wisdom of Buddha shining through the universe.

Every detail that has gone into this temple and it's surrounding grounds and structures has been done with Buddhist teachings and symbolism in mind. The goal is to provide visitors with feelings of peace and happiness and that is exactly how we would describe our experience visiting this beautiful place.

White Temple - Chiang Rai
Wat Rong Khun - Top Chiang Rai, Thailand Attraction

The temple is located about 20 minuted outside of the town of Chiang Rai and there are multiple option on transportation to get there. You can have your hotel hire a taxi for you for about 500 THB each way ($14 USD), negotiate a Tuk Tuk for maybe 300 THB round trip, or get on a bus for about $0.60 USD (20 THB). If you're making the trip from Chiang Mai, it will be a 3 hour ride on Greenbus.

Travel Tip: Here are some great tours that will make your trip easy and fun. Check them out below:

Songthaew - Chiang Rai White Temple

Getting a ride back to town on a Songthaew

Being up for adventure and the kind of travelers that like to mix with the locals, we got on the bus. We got on at the same location our Greenbus dropped us off when arriving in Chiang Rai. It was a fun ride on a quirky blue bus with rickety seats and oscillating fans attached to the roof. To us, you just can't beat the fun that comes with doing it the way locals do!

The bus drops you off on the side of the highway, so it's a bit tricky crossing over to the other side where the temple is. You'll be able to see the top of the temple popping up from behind the building that is on the actual highway. You'll just need to go down that street about 2 minutes to get to it.

Exploring Wat Rong Khun

The admission is 50 THB per person ($1.40 USD), so for about $2 you get to go and see one of the coolest places in Thailand. How's that for budget travel?!

Wat Rong Khun - Top Places to see in Chiang Rai, Thailand

As you can see in these photos, the temple has fantastic detail in it's design with images that certainly can paint a picture in anyone's imagination. To walk the path to the temple's entrance is an experience in itself. Desperate hands reaching up from the "pit" below and structures of  beasts and heavenly figures surround you as if encouraging to go inside and pray so that you can escape them.

White Temple - Chiang Rai, Thailand - Top Things to See

The lake by the temple, along with the long pathway to the entrance that is lavishly decorated with sculptures and intricate carvings give Wat Rong Khun it's massive appearance. Once you step into the actual temple, however, you realize that it is quite small as compared to the average temples that you may find in Chiang Mai.

Wat Rong Khun Entrance - Chiang Rai, Thailand Travel

The entrance to the temple building only allows one way traffic, so after you have visited the inside, you will have to walk out from the exit at the rear. As you walk out, you'll follow the pathway along the side of the building which will provide a different perspective of the place. Make sure to take some photos from this angle on your visit!

The area around the White Temple has a few more attractions to offer. There is a wishing well where visitors can throw in a coin or two and make a wish. There's another opportunity for wish making if you purchase thin, metal ornaments that can be written on with black markers. The markers are provided at a table near the " where you can hang them.

Chiang Rai Things To Do - Visit Wt Rong Khun, White Temple

Once you purchase your ornament (3oTHB each) you can take a few minutes to write down your wish on them, then take them to one of the tree-looking structures and hang them from one of the "branches." There is also a tunnel that you can walk through featuring thousands of hanging ornaments with wishes on them. It's quite a spectacular feeling. As if the energy from the souls walking under them will help the likelihood of them becoming true.

hands reaching up - Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai, Thailand - Must See

There is also an art gallery with no additional fee to enter. The art featured inside are those of Ajarn Chalermchai as well as his pupils. It is not a very big gallery, but contains many beautiful pieces of artwork. It gives visitors a further glimpse and understanding into the inspiration behind erecting this temple. - visiting Wat Rong Khun, White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Golden Toilet - The Most Beautiful Bathroom

If I hadn't read about this place beforehand, I might have mistaken the golden, beautifully decorated, building as another temple. Nope. It's a bathroom! As in toilet, WC, washroom, or what they are referred to here in Thailand, "hong naam" - ห้องน้ำ.

As you walk around the premises of the White Temple, there are many beautiful things t look at. So, it makes perfect sense that even the toilets here must fit into the whole theme. The building is wonderful to look at and take photos of. Perhaps it is even the most photographed bathroom?

Golden Toilet - The Most Beautiful Toilet at Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai, Thailand

The White Temple is definitley a MUST VISIT for anyone traveling to or through Chiang Rai. There's lots to enjoy here and you can even feel like royalty if you use the "facilities."

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Taiss Nowrouzi

About the Author

Taiss Nowrouzi

Hi! I'm just a California girl addicted to travel and adventure with a passion for art and dance on the side. Born in Iran, but I consider myself a citizen of Earth, adhering to the belief that "The world is but one country and mankind its citizen." I strive to make a positive impact on everyone I meet and learn as much as possible from them. My degree out of college is in Marketing. However, I entered the hospitality business at an early age and worked my way up to hotel management. After about 13 years in that industry (5 of which I was a hotel assistant manager), I made the decision to move to Thailand and leave the 9 to 5 grind behind. My husband and I set off for a life of living abroad and hopes to continue traveling the world, just 3 months after our wedding. It all started with the two of us, along with our cat, together in Thailand. Can't wait to see where life takes us next!

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Hi, Im travelling to this place on coming March 2019, pls advise nearest airport to alight and how to get to the temple'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    Hi! So exciting that you will visit Thailand! It’s best to go to the airport in Chiang Mai and then take a bus to Chiang Rai. I believe there is now an airport in Chiang Rai as well, so you can fly there from Chiang Mai.'

Great photos! We were debating a short trip to Chiang Rai during our stay in Chiang Mai, but we’ll have to get to it next time. A farm that makes my favorite jasmine tea is over that way!'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    Thank you! Oh, it’s a great place to go for some tea!'
Laveena Sengar

I haven’t really been to this place as of yet, infact didn’t hear about it anytime before I read your post. Seems interesting to me.'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    Try it next time you’re in Chiang Mai!'
Hannah @GettingStamped

The White Temple is a must for all those visiting northern Thailand. We went back in 2015 we rented a car and did a little weekend road trip!'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    must have been so nice having a car! A road trip up there sounds amazing!'
The Travel Ninjas

This temple is amazing and gorgeous. It’s cool that he doesn’t take outside funding so that he can protect the integrity of his spiritual and artistic vision. And wow that is one of the best bathrooms we’ve ever seen.'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    hi! Thanks for the comment 🙂 yes, the artist stays true to his vision this way!'
Beverly Ann Adriano

Surely will add this to my itinerary when I visit Thailand this coming March. This will look good on my Instagram! Thanks for the info and tips! =P'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    cool! it definitely is a very photogenic temple 🙂'
Wendy Maes

I came across a picture of the temple just a few days ago. It looks such a magical place.'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    it definitely is magical! We’re very happy we got an opportunity to see it up close.'

I’m glad you were able to capture such amazing photos of this place! When I went it was packed with people and so bright out that all my photos looked washed out. It was truly a sight, though. I had never heard of The White Temple until I actually got to Chiang Mai and saw a sign for it at a tour agency. Totally worth the drive! Thanks for sharing 🙂'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    Sorry to hear about your photos, but glad you got to see this place in person. It was really crowded when we visited as well, but I was just in such awe of this place, i ignored it 🙂'
Madhurima Maiti

I am amazed at how gorgeous this White Temple is! And the pictures are breathtaking! Plus, the information is all so helpful. The golden toilet – oh so wow! Overall, a lovely post and I couldn’t have asked for more. Hope you travel more to amazing destinations and share with us your lovely posts 🙂'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    Thank you! The temple is truly a work of art! Hoping 2017 will help us bring more of these articles through more amazing travels.'

I just loved this temple, probably the most beautiful I have even visited. The details are amazing and love that it is all white. Plus thought the golden toilets were funny!'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    Hi Anisa! Thanks for your comment! This temple is really a work of art and we were also very impressed by all the details!

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