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Have you Googled or Instagrammed Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand, only to have a gorgeous White Temple pop up and catch your eye? Believe me, you’re not the only one! When planning my Thailand backpacking trip, I knew I had to visit this pristine place. Here’s my experience visiting the White Temple in Chaing Rai, Thailand, and how you can visit it, too.

Visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand. • The Wanderful Me

Psst. This post contains affiliate links. Read our disclosure.

If there’s one place in Thailand that really shocked me, it was definitely the White Temple in Chiang Rai. (Aka Wat Rong Khun.)

Why, you might ask?

Because this place is incredibly bizzare and other world-like.

I mean, of course the glistening white spirals, artfully designed architecture, and magical aura only a Thai temple can give off is captivating…

The White Temple shining in the morning sun with clear blue skies behind it.

But this temple is unlike any other.

In addition to all the wondrous things mentioned above, you’ll also find weird statues of hands snaking up from the ground, grasping the air and holding random things, like a microphone…

(Psst, if this is your first visit to Thailand and you’re traveling through Bangkok, make sure to brush up on these first-timer Bangkok mistakes — like taking an overpriced tour boat!)

Sculpted hands reaching up for the sky - a strange feature you'll notice when visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Masks of popular characters from movies, like Batman and Iron Man…

And even an odd makeshift waterfall sculpture adorned with various sized bells and strings to pull.

Intrigued? I sure was!

The White Temple is definitely must-visit attraction in Chiang Rai, Thailand, due to its beautiful blend of an enchanting and eccentric atmosphere.

Ready to visit this place yourself? Here are my tips.

Psst, know what helped me when traveling Thailand? This handy dandy Thailand guide from The Lonely Planet! Get your own here.

TIPS FOR VISITING THE WHITE TEMPLE IN CHIANG RAI, THAILAND

Viewing the White Temple in all it's glory.

How to Get to the White Temple

Although the White Temple lies on the outskirts of Chiang Rai, it’s actually really easy to get to.

If you want to visit this remarkable temple (which I’m guessing you do since you’re reading this post), you have three transportation options:

1. Take a Taxi

Hands down the easiest (and most comfortable) way to get there is to grab a taxi, but this is also the most expensive option.

Although, grabbing a taxi allows you to pay the driver a bit more so he/she will stay there until you’re done seeing the temple. (Dan and I found it difficult to find a taxi or tuk-tuk outside the temple, as many were already paid to wait for other travelers.)

2. Grab a Tuk-Tuk

Another super easy option, albeit a bit less comfortable unless you like wind and dust blowing in your face, grabbing a tuk-tuk is quick, cheap, and dirty.

Similar to the taxi, you can pay a tuk-tuk driver to stay and wait until you’re finished seeing the temple, which is super handy.

3. Hop on the Local Bus

The bus in Chiang Rai which takes you to the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun).
The local bus that takes you to the White Temple.

This is definitely the cheapest option (like literally pennies) but it’s not very quick and you don’t have a definite way to get back to town once you’re done at the White Temple.

Although, this is what Dan and I did to get there and it’s really easy! All you do is head to the main bus station, find a sign that says “White Temple” (or ask around, there’s usually driver standing outside that’ll help you out!), and hop on!

Once the bus gets going, someone will walk through the bus to grab ticket money. From my experience, a ticket from the main station to the White Temple should cost around 20 baht ($.65). Pretty affordable, eh?


Tips for Visiting Chiang Rai’s White Temple

Dan standing in front a different section of the White Temple.

1. Go in the Late Afternoon

Whaaat? Someone telling another not to visit an attraction during horrendously early hours?

Yep, you got it! For Chiang Rai’s White Temple, I highly recommend going later in the afternoon (around 4 pm — the temple shuts at 5 pm).

Why?

Because it’s wildly busy during the morning. Like hoards of crowds clogging the area outside the gates, just itching to get inside. (Not to mention, all the people trying to get solo photos in front of the temple literally run to be the first one there.)

Truth be told, it’s not worth it going in the morning; the light isn’t great due to the positioning of the temple and you don’t want to deal with all the people.

There are smaller crowds in the evening, and you can take advantage of the golden hour lighting. (FYI — it’s even better if you visit on a weekday!)

Tourists standing in front of the White Temple, waiting to take a picture ( with cameras at the ready!).
This was about 1/8 of the crowd initially waiting for a photo.

2. Plan Your Return Transportation

As mentioned earlier, Dan and I decided to take the bus to the temple from Chiang Rai city center… and it didn’t work out in our favor.

Sure, it was definitely the cheaper option, but we were pretty much left stranded once done seeing the temple, as most tourists visit by scheduled tour or hire a driver for the day.

So, unless you’re on a tight budget, I suggest planning your return transportation by hiring a taxi or tuk-tuk for the duration of your White Temple visit.

(Also, if you’re just like, “hey, I can order an Grab!” Keep in mind most Grab — which is the local Uber app — drivers refuse to drive out to the temple, as it’s pretty out of the way and not worth their time.)

Another Golden Temple, also located on the grounds of the White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

3. Wear Appropriate Clothing

As with all temples in Thailand, you need to cover up. No knees or shoulders allowed here!

Thus, one of my top Southeast Asia backpacking tips is always carrying around a light shawl or kimono to easily cover-up with when necessary!

(Travel Tip: I like to carry around my travel essentials in a light backpack! This one from Amazon is completely vegan, totally cute, and has enough room for my Sony Alpha camera, shawl, and Grayl water bottle!)

Sophie posing in front of the White Temple, wearing modest clothing (a top tip for visiting Wat Rong Khun!).

4. Pack Along Some Refreshments

As I said above, I always carry a few essentials with me when traveling around Thailand! A filtering water bottle is hands down the number one essential I don’t travel without (as the water is questionable here!).

Not to mention, the White Temple has free clean drinking water! Which is, like, unheard of in Asia. So bring a water bottle and hydrate yourself!

Additionally, bring some snacks if you get hangry easily! It’s hot, humid, and — most likely — packed with tourists at the White Temple. Which is not a good combo if you’re hungry!

Chiang Rai's White Temple and its meticulously groomed grounds.

5. Bring a Good Camera

…or at least know how to turn the exposure down on your phone camera!

The first thing you’ll notice when visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai is how freakin’ bright this place is! In fact, this temple is so strikingly bright because there are tiny little mirrors embedded into the temple architecture. Cool, right?

Well, not so cool for photos, as this place really shines!

Thus, I recommend bringing along a good quality camera to capture the beauty (and turn down the brightness) of Wat Rong Khun.

My personal favorite is either the Sony a5000 (I used this for years and it never let me down!) or the Sony a7 (which I recently upgraded to!).

The White Temple entrance and main door.

Essential Things to Know

White Temple Hours: 8 AM to 5 PM
White Temple Entrance Fee: 50 Baht
Temple Location: About 13 km south of city centre
Wat Rong Khun History: Read About it Here


Where to Stay in Chiang Rai

Find more great accommodation options on Booking! My all-time favorite site for checking into perfect places.

The view from Sophie and Dan's hostel in Chiang Rai, Thailand, during sunrise.
The view from our hostel during sunrise in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

There are my top tips for visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand! As one of most beautiful (and strange) temples in Thailand, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Are you planning a trip to Thailand and have the White Temple on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments or if you have any questions about the place, don’t hesitate to ask!

Sophie xx


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Ever seen the notorious, overly-Instagrammed White Temple and NEED to see it for yourself? I feel you! Here are my top tips for visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand (transportation, time, and essential things to know!). | #chiangrai #thailand #whitetemple #southeastasia #asia #tips
Want to visit the gorgeous White Temple in Thailand everyone seems to Instagram? The White Temple is Chiang Rai is notoriously popular amongst Southeast Asia travelers and backpackers - and for good reason! It's incredibly beautiful. BUT there are a few tips you should know before you go! Here are my top tips for visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand. | #chiangrai #thailand #whitetemple #tips #travel #southeastasia #asia

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