When planning my trip to Thailand I immediately knew I wanted to make a stop at Chiang Rai to visit the White Temple. When I was younger I saw photos from this place all over the internet and the craziness and beauty of it always kept on fascinating me!
The White Temple, also known as Wat Rong Khun is actually a privately owned art exhibit. It is owned by Chalermchai Kositpipat, who designed, constructed, and opened it to visitors in 1997.
Wat Rong Khun used to be a buddhist temple that by the end of the 20th century was in such a bad state that renovations were absolutely necessary.
Unfortunately funds weren’t present so Chalermchai Kositpipat decided to rebuild the entire temple and funded all of it himself.
The best viewpoints from the White Temple, Chiang Rai
The bridge of ‘The cycle of rebirth’
The bridge is located in the front of the White Temple and tends to be the busiest one as well. Important to know is that once you cross the small part of the bridge you’re not allowed to turn back. There are guards present who will reprimand you if you try to do so so please respect this!
The bridge is surrounded by an enormous amount of hands reaching up towards the sky to symbolise unrestrained desire. The bridge represents the way that you need to follow to achieve happiness without giving in to temptation, greed and desire.
There are 3 pretty cool ways to shoot this particular spot:
- Facing the bridge from the center – This is pretty much the photo that everybody takes here. For some more original shots keep on scrolling down!
- A more original point of view is to shoot this bridge from the side. Your photographer or tripod will stand on the bigger outer circle while you’re walking across the bridge. Here you can choose between the left or the right side.
The Gate of Heaven
The Gate of Heaven is located right across the bridge and an often overlooked place. Don’t ask me why cause my favourite photo was actually taken here during sunset.
You might want to bust out your wide angle lens to get the perfect framing for this shot! I used my 24-70mm on 24 to capture this image.
Ubosot – the main building
The sides of the main building tend to be a lot less crowded compared to the main bridge. The intricate white details of the main building are absolutely exquisite thanks to the mirrored glass in the walls. The white building is supposed to represent the human mind and that people are wicked.
The golden building
You can’t miss this one when visiting the White Temple! Once you’ve made your way through, go through the exit and keep on walking forward. You’ll stumble upon this weird golden building that’s in stark contrast with the White Temple. This golden temple represents the body and it’s colour stands for how people focus on worldly desires and money.
Also, it’s used as a restroom :D.
When in Chiang Rai make sure to visit the ethical elephant sanctuary Elephant Valley Thailand! Read all about my experience here.
Things to know before your visit
What time should I go?
The best time to visit isn’t opening time but one hour before closing time! It will still be busy when you arrive but you can first figure out which photos you want to take. Ten minutes before closing the temple will be almost empty which provides the perfect opportunity to take some beautiful photos!
How to get there?
The fastest way is to stay in Chiang Rai for a couple of nights and go by Grab. Otherwise you’ll most likely end up on a tour bus coming from Chiang Mai which I really don’t recommend!
What’s the price?
Entrance for locals is free, foreigners pay THB50. I would advise to take your passport or other form of ID with you since sometimes they do ask for this in Thailand.
Where to stay?
I stayed at the Nak Nakara Hotel and it was ideally located in the center of Chiang Rai. It has a beautiful swimming pool, includes breakfast and is only 10 minutes walking from the famous food market in Chiang Rai!