Chiang Rai Temples, Markets and Gardens
Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple
Your guide and driver will meet you at your hotel at 0800 for your Chiang Rai Temples, Markets, and Gardens tour. This is a private tour. Our first visit will be to the Wat Rong Khun, aka the White Temple, about 10kms from Chiang Rai. Local artist Chalermchai Kositpipat created Wat Rong Khun, which has become the most popular attraction of Chiang Rai. The White Temple opened for the public in 1997. Since then, they have added several buildings. We will spend some time admiring this remarkable structure. Chalermchai is also an amazing painter. His works are exhibited in a museum on the compound. After this visit, we will return to Chiang Rai and head for the statue of King Mangrai, the founder of Chiang Rai.
Explore Chiang Rai by Samlor
At the monument of Mangrai, our samlors are waiting for us. The samlor is the traditional bicycle taxi, known in other countries as cyclo (Vietnam) or rickshaw (Singapore). Unfortunately, the samlor is disappearing. There are probably about seventy left in Chiang Rai, and the drivers are mostly older men. We want to support the samlors in Chiang Rai. We pass the beautiful old City Hall, which dates back to 1899. Almost next is the Wat Phra Singh, one of the oldest temples of Chiang Rai. We continue our samlor tour, passing through a street with magnificent rain trees.
The Wat Phra Kaew is without a doubt Chiang Rai’s most famous temple. It once housed the famous Emerald Buddha image, which is now in Bangkok. We visit the museum and the main temple before continuing to the Kad Luang, Thai for “big market.” We take our time to chat with the vendors and taste some of the local delicacies that are being made in front of us. Our tour ends at one of our favorite Khao Soi restaurants, close to the spectacular clock tower.
The Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park
After our lunch, the next destination is the Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park. In many respects, it is very different from Wat Rong Khun but certainly not less interesting. The Park houses the largest collection in the region of art items and teak artifacts from the Lanna culture or the Tai culture. The Tai culture includes the Tai minorities in North Thailand, such as the Tai Lue people, who also live in China’s southwestern region of Yunnan, eastern Myanmar or the Shan States, northwestern Vietnam, and western Laos. The Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park is part of the Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage. This extensive park houses some beautiful, traditional Lanna-style buildings such as the Haw Kham (The Golden Pavillion) and Haw Kaew.
Wat Rong Suea Ten, the Blue Temple
We started with the White Temple and end with the Blue Temple. Wat Rong Suea Ten is the real name of this temple that is constantly under development. Buildings are being added. The Blue Temple is stunning and attracts a growing number of visitors. Please note the beautiful statue of one of the most revered monks in North Thailand: Phra Upakhut. Not far from the Blue temple is the imposing Wat Huay Pla Kang. The statue is not a Buddha statue but an image of Kuan Im, aka Guan Yin, the goddess of compassion. There is an elevator in the statue that will take you to a floor where you have a nice view of Chiang Rai and the surroundings.
It is time to return to the hotel. Your guide and driver will drop you off at the hotel. We hope you have enjoyed our Chiang Rai Temples, Markets, and Gardens tour. You can read more about all the things you can do in Chiang Rai City and Province here.