As we continue sharing our adventures in Thailand, we are still heading north to our next “stay” in the northernmost big city of the country called Chiang Rai. From Chiang Rai, we are heading to the Golden Triangle area – the tripoint of the Thailand, Laos and Myanmar borders – but that is yet to come.
As far as places we’ve stayed on our tour through Thailand and Cambodia , the hotel in Chiang Rai has to be one of the most incredible hotels I can honestly say we have ever stayed in.
The weather has also cooled as we head north bringing us a very welcome relief from the heat. We did not actually do much in the city of Chiang Rai (other than sleep and eat – and celebrate the King’s birthday), but we used our hotel as a base location to visit some of the local temples and villages.
One of the, hmmm can I say “most bizarre”, experiences we had on this part of our trip was visiting Wat Rong Khun temple – known to us “Westerners” as The White Temple.
The White Temple
This temple was left in such a state of disrepair at the end of the 20th century, that a local artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat, decided to remake the whole place using his own money – and dare I say, his own artistic creativity. It opened in 1997 and is also described as an unconventional, privately-owned art exhibit.
My personal interpretation is that it’s a Buddhist temple in a “Dali-esque” style, but I’ll let you make your own call from the photos I took there shown below.
A very different and interesting temple stop indeed. Apparently, the artist doesn’t think it will be completed until 2070 so you have plenty of time to visit and watch the expansion/changes happening there. Most importantly, you should know that I wasn’t allowed to take photographs inside the main gallery where there is an incredibly imaginative “Michael Jackson/Rocketship/Kung Fu Panda” type of mural painted on the wall. Definitely reason alone to visit this temple.
To change perspective completely, while we were staying in the Chiang Rai Provence, we also took a trip to visit some Mae Salong Hill Tribes.
Mae Salong Hill Tribes
The hills and valleys of the Mae Salong area of the Chiang Mai provence have had their history centered on the opium trade in the Golden Triangle. While we weren’t privy to any of that action, we were able to visit a couple of tribal villages where we could see the homes they live in, their tribal costumes, hear them play some tribal music and have a chance to buy some of their handicrafts.
The days on this tour have had such wide-ranging experiences, and I will be sharing many more to come. I hope you will continue to follow along.
If you missed the start of our tour of Thailand and Cambodia trip, please start here. And thanks again for following along. Next, we head further north into Myanmar and then make a quick stop into Laos along the Mekong River to experience all the countries of the Golden Triangle in one day.