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White Temples and Black Houses: Exploring the sites of Chiang Rai.

Wat Rong Khun aka The White Temple
Wat Rong Khun aka The White Temple

A lot of people head up to Chiang Rai on there way to Laos, or simply to go and see the two main sights it has to offer. The White Temple and the Black House. These are situated outside of Chiang Rai on opposite sides of each other. They both are well worth a look, and deserve the time to go and explore them.

To get to them is quite easy with local transportation. You can go to the local bus station(Terminal 1) and take the locals buses that head towards these sites. The local buses will only drop you off at the side of the highway and then you have to walk the rest of the way. The walk to the White Temple is quite short but the walk to the Black House is about 800m. The buses only cost 20 Baht one way. TukTuk’s and Taxis will offer to take you on a round trip at quite a higher price point around 250 baht to one of the sites(this is what was offered to me I’m sure you may be able to get a lower price). I also saw tours taking people from the hostel starting at 1000Baht! That seemed way to high to me. So I took the local bus.

Local bus to White Temple.
Local bus to White Temple.

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I first went to the White Temple. After talking to an information desk they pointed me to the bus I needed to go on and I then let the bus know I wanted to go to The White Temple.You pay for the bus while your already on it. When we got close the lady on the bus told me when to get off. The bus pulled over to the shoulder I jumped off and then it was gone. I could see the temple from the road. I then crossed the busy Highway to get to my destination.

Dropped of at the side of the highway. You can see the tips of the White Temple.
Dropped of at the side of the highway. You can see the tips of the White Temple.

Work began on the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in 1997, and is not expected to be completed for several decades. The Temple was designed and built by an artist by the name of Chaloemchai Khositphiphat. It is filled with many buddhist elements along with many pop culture characters. Inside the temple this is most evident. You are not allowed to take pictures inside of the temple but the walls are covered with many characters you’ve seen before. From Podracers and battle droids to Kung Fu panda to Avengers to Sailor Moon to Terminators all surround the Buddha in the center.

Traffic cones outside the temple.
Traffic cones outside the temple.

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Hands towards the entrance of the temple.
Hands towards the entrance of the temple.

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Familiar faces.
Familiar faces.

To get back to Chiang Rai all you have to do is go back to the highway where the bus drops you off and wave down a bus or songtaew heading back that way. This should cost about 20 baht to get back to the bus station. But my experience from here was a bit different. I got to where I thought was a good spot to get picked up, at the side of the highway. I was told that you can wait for 30 minutes or more for a bus to come by. I was waiting next to a rest stop and a car pulled over and an older man got out sat at the table and began having a cigarette. I looked around and no buses were around and I decided I would just go sit down. I sat down across the table from the man. We chatted a bit about weather and he said he had been driving for awhile today and was getting tired. He asked, where I was going. I then told him I was waiting for a bus to get back into Chiang Rai. He then told me “oh, I’ll take you to Chiang Rai. Where you want to go in Chiang Rai?” I then told him I just wanted to go to the bus station Terminal 1. He then said “I’ll take you there.”. I then asked “oh, how much you want?”, figuring that he wanted money to take me into town. “oh, nothing its fine.” he replied. I was a little hesitant but he seemed genuine. FIRST OFF I do not suggest anyone do what I do next. So I jumped in the strangers car and off we went to Chiang Rai.

The man told me he was 63 years old. His children both lived in America and his son once lived in Canada. I then told him I lived in Canada. He told me he wished he could live in Canada. We then joked about how Canada is too cold and Thailand too hot! Where was the middle ground? And then his next comment made me uncomfortable. “My wife she really bad. She in jail now” the old man told me. I didn’t know what to say. Had i just jumped in the vehicle of a man who possible is criminal to? Then maybe my silence showed my fear and he then said “But its ok now I got a new wife.”. The rest of drive went well and he drove me to the bus terminal I needed to go to. I thanked him and then began my search for my next local bus to go check out the Black House.

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The next bus!

Then again, I asked the information both and they pointed me toward the bus I needed to take. I then was on my way. The bus will drop of at the side of the highway again and then you will have to walk down the road about 800m(even tho the tuk tuk drivers assured me it was at least 2 km) . It is very well marked down the road as you go. The Black House itself is quite different from anything else like you see in Thailand. Its full of animal skulls and skins. It also has a very gothic feel to it. Just like the White Temple it was created by an artist, by the name of Thawan Duchanee. To get back to Chiang Rai just walk back to the highway and wait for a bus going back to Chiang Rai. It should cost around 20 Baht.

Markers to the Black House.
Markers to the Black House.

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Overall these are very unique Temples to check out in Chiang Rai. As much as they both have a very dark tone to them, they are unlike anything else in Thailand. This country has so much to offer to so many people. Whether your into food,culture or just the party scene this country has it all. It’s all filled with wonderful, kind, amazing people who are willing to help a lost tourist.

Hopefully you enjoyed this post! Have you been to the Black House or White Temple or anything like it? Please comment bellow.

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