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Make Wishes at the White Temple in Chiang Rai

Thailand is home to countless temples, in Chiang Mai it seemed that there was one on just about every street corner, like dogs in Chile. And though they are all interesting in their own right, with so much abundance you start to get immune to their beauty, similar to the plethora of Duomos in Italy. One has to be truly special in order to catch your attention. After traveling for a week in Chiang Mai, I was just about all templed out. But, that was before a short trip to the peculiar White Temple in Chiang Rai.

The White Temple, Wat Rong Khun, is an unconventional Buddhist Temple located about 2 1/2 hours north of Chiang Mai. And it is a vision of pure white. Go figure. The White Temple in Chiang Rai

When we first arrived the initial reaction was “holy crap, there are a gazillion people here”. Dozens of tourists were milling about, but that thought only lasted a millisecond, because behind all of them stands one of the most striking and bizarre pieces of architecture I have ever seen.

The Wat Rong Kuhn is decked out in white, meant to symbolize purity.
The White Temple in Chiang Rai The White Temple in Chiang Rai

Bring your sunglasses, you’re gonna need them. Not only for the brightness of the color, but also for the reflections from the mirrored glass mosaic scattered throughout the grounds.
The White Temple in Chiang Rai

Amongst all the purity the creator has representations of evil too, with its eerie disembodied heads hanging from the trees and spooky hands reaching out from the ground, symbolizing Hell.

I walked by those hands quickly hoping one wasn’t going to grab my leg and pull me in. The White Temple in Chiang Rai White Temple Chiang Rai

There were no photos allowed inside the temple, but I can guarantee that is does not disappoint. The walls are artistically painted with murals depicting modern icons; Superman, spaceships, Angry Birds and even Star Wars characters.

Just outside the temple fence were intriguing tree-like structures filled with hanging metal and I needed to get closer to investigate.
The White Temple in Chiang Rai The White Temple in Chiang Rai

Each of the thousands of tin ornaments hanging from these trees had hand written personal notes on them. A wish for the future. Even though I had just been in Hong Kong making incense wishes at a Monastery, I couldn’t resist making a wish here too. Is there really a limit on wishes anyway?

We purchased two metal hangers for 60 baht ($1.99 usd) and wrote our wishes at the provided stations.

Peter drew a simple peace sign on his and I wrote “Health, Food & Travel” on mine. We then hung them to the bottom of the overloaded tree, hoping to come back in the future to still see them there.
The White Temple in Chiang Rai The White Temple in Chiang Rai The White Temple in Chiang Rai

Have you been to the White Temple in Chiang Rai? Did you leave a wish?

For more Thailand travel ideas: Bucket List of 18 Things to do in Chiang Mai

18 Comments

  1. Stunning! The first image seems like it would be perfect in a winter scene.

    The hands are definitely chill and goose-bump worthy. I’d be running past them.

    I love your wish! Thanks for introducing me to another new place :-)

  2. The hands were a bit freaky, but really intriguing at the same time! I’m heading over to your site right now to read about your trip to Maui. I hope you had a spectacular time!

  3. It took a while but I finally got templed out in Chiang Mai. I had no idea about this heavenly one in Chiang Rai. Ir’a rather perplexing! I’m happy to know about it now.

  4. There were several amazing temples in Chiang Mai that I visited, but this one was especially special.

  5. This was definitely one of my favorite temples in Thailand – so unique. I didn’t see the tree with the tin ornaments when we were there though, they look really cool. I wonder if they are a more recent addition? I believe that the temple is supposed to be under construction for something like the next 60 years, so I’m sure it will continue to change.

  6. I did hear that it was going to be under construction for many years to come, so that is a perfect reason to revisit a few years in the future :)

  7. Wow – breathtaking. The temple looks absolutly beautiful! Great photos.

  8. Thanks!

  9. Looks like a winter wonderland castle. Would love to visit someday.

  10. Wow! how have I not seen this temples before?! Going on the list!

  11. This temple is definitely bucket list worthy!

  12. It looks like it’s covered in frosting! I am kicking myself right now for not scheduling a trip up to see it when we were in Thailand. We’ll just have to go back :-)

  13. It was definitely a spectacle! I hope you get to go back and see it one day.

  14. white temple is a awesome temple in the world. i really like this. really thanks for sharing this.

  15. You can always make it a day trip to see only what you are interested in. Last month I took the bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, (a 3 hour trip) then spent 4 hours visting the White Temple, the Tower Clock and the area around the river. After lunch I took the bus back to Chiang Mai. I had a great time and really enjoyed visiting the White Temple. The VIP bus was comfortable and the roads in Thailand are very good.

  16. That sounds like an amazing trip! Thanks for sharing.

  17. I’m so glad someone else loved this temple as much as I did. After being in CM for 9 months it really takes a lot for a temple to impress me. Lovely photos by the way. I’d love it if you checked out my Wat Rong Khun post here: http://marketofeden.blogspot.com/2013/05/how-to-turn-visa-run-into-adventure.html

  18. There are so many Wats in CM! I did love the Chedi Luang too :)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A Visit to the Long Neck Karen Hilltop Tribe in Thailand - [...] after a visit to the peculiar White Temple of Chiang Rai, there was a quick stop to northern Thailand’s Karen Long Neck Hilltribe, who …
  2. Experience a Temple inside the City Walls of Chiang Mai, Thailand - […] though there was not a Chiang Mai temple that quite compared to the unconventionality of the White Temple in Chiang Rai, …
  3. Bucket List of 18 Things to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand - […] Read about my experience: Make Wishes at the White Temple in Chiang Rai. […]

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