It can be frustrating getting to a temple in Thailand and being turned away because you are not wearing the appropriate clothing. This nearly happened to us at the White Temple / Wat Rong Khun. The White Temple Chiang Rai dress code is pretty simple, so do not worry and read on for the vital information to enjoy your visit to one of Thailand’s most magnificent temples.
White Temple Chiang Rai dress code
The standard procedure is in place; make sure you cover your shoulders and cover your legs below the knees. This means no vests/singlets and no shorts/short skirts. In addition to this, shoes must be removed and you are provided with a plastic bag to put them in.
We thought we were pretty covered up, I was wearing trousers and a T-shirt and Kerrie was wearing a dress to her knees and a long ankle length cardigan with her shoulders covered. However, upon entering the White Temple, Kerrie was stopped and asked to cover up more. Oh come onnnnnnnnnnn.
The problem was the cardigan had a slit which showed part of her leg around the knee, and this is prohibited for entering the White Temple. Great, now what?
Not following the White Temple Chiang Rai dress code?
Do not panic, the day hasn’t been ruined. There are a few things you can do to cover yourself up appropriately to enter the White Temple.
Tie clothing together
If you do not have anything to tie your clothing together, ask one of the people working there if there’s anything they can do. They kindly helped Kerrie tie her cardigan together which allowed us to enter the White Temple. Phew.
Use your accessories
Improvise! Take extra clothing out of your bag, such as a scarf or a towel and use it to cover up your shoulders/legs.
Purchase a sarong
When we were at the White Temple there was an option to rent/buy a sarong for a small fee. This can be used to cover up your shoulders or legs, following the White Temple Chiang Rai dress code and enabling you to enter. It is always worth buying your own sarong and packing it in your backpack because it’s so versatile. Scarf? Check. Bandanna? Check. Beach towel? Check. Extra layer to keep yourself warm when you’re driving on a scooter? Check.
Now you are following the White Temple Chiang Rai dress code, but what is all the hype about?
The White Temple in Chiang Rai, also known as Wat Rong Khun, is very unusual in design compared to other Thailand temples. Nevertheless, this is what makes it so beautiful, it grabs your attention straight away with its striking pearly white colour and its contemporary artistic design. Surrounded by a tranquil lake with white fish swimming in it, it’s almost something out of a dreamland.
Read on for information and pictures on what to expect when visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai.
A bit of history
Designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat, the White Temple was constructed and opened to visitors/tourists in 1997. Unfortunately, Thailand suffered a major earthquake on the 5th May 2014 and it hit Chiang Rai significantly, causing damage to the White Temple / Wat Rong Khun.
It is said Chalermchai Kositpipat could not find funding to refurbish the temple so he has used his own money to fund the process. Although it looks amazing to date, it is still not finished and will take many years to complete.
Eventually, Chalermchai Kositpipat wants the temple to be a place which benefits from Buddhist teachings and be a centre of meditation. The White Temple is his offering to Lord Buddha and he believes the completion of the project will gift him immortal life.
How to get to White Temple Chian Rai / Wat Rong Khun
Address: White Temple, 60 หมู่ที่ 1 Phahonyothin Rd, Pa O Don Chai, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand
The White Temple is only a short 20 min ride by car/scooter from the centre of Chiang Rai.
If you’re anything like us, you can not tolerate the thought of cramming yourself in a bus full of tourists making your way there. Rent a scooter and drive to the White Temple yourself.
Throughout Thailand we used an app called Grab. It was our go-to app anytime we needed a taxi. They offer fair prices and it’s stress free. It’s basically Thailands Uber.
On the other hand, if you do not trust using the app or can’t for whatever reason, the next best thing is to organise a taxi through your accommodation, or hailing down a taxi on the street. Make sure you arrange a price before setting off to avoid scams.
A more traditional way of getting around. Tuk-tuks are better weaving in and out of traffic and lets face it, they’re also a fun experience! Just be sure to arrange a price before getting in the tuk-tuk.
It is possible to get to the White Temple by bus, via Chiang Rai Bus Station. Ask the information desk on which terminal to go to and also the ticket price. Ask for a ticket to ‘Wat Rong Khun’. It should be fairly cheap and the bus ride should not be more than around 30 min.
The White Temple opening hours
8am – 5pm
As with most famous tourist attractions, the earlier you are there the better. It will be less crowded and less stressful. Over recent years, White Temple Chiang Rai has increased in popularity and continues to do so.
When we arrived there early, even before it opened, around 7 am, there were a lot of people already there. We were so shocked! We wanted to try get a picture there on our own, so did everyone else it seems.
It was quite misty and cloudy when we first arrived, however, later in the day the sun broke through the clouds and shone on the White Temple, making it look 10 times better. So do not worry if you arrive early and it is a bit misty.
The White Temple entrance fee
To enter the White Temple it costs 50 TBH. To make things easier, try to have small change, especially arriving early as they might not have a lot of change to give back.
The White Temple exterior
As mentioned before, the pearly white colour is the instantly eye catching. However, what makes the White Temple even more exclusive, is that there is glass within the structure. This makes for a sparkling viewing when the sun hits it, reflecting the rays and glowing magnificently.
The white colour is said to symbolise the purity of Buddha whilst the integrated glass is to symbolise the wisdom and the Buddhist teachings, known as the Dhamma.
Outside the temple are various Buddhist figures and sculptures. The detail in each of them is quite impressive and we had fun coming across different ones.
The grand toilets
To date, the White Temple’s toilets are the best toilets we have ever seen. Seems a funny thing to say right?? But just look at how extravagant they are. I mean, if there’s ever a place to excrete your load, it’s here.
Perhaps the most impressive of all, for us, was the bridge leading up to the entrance of the main temple. As you walk along the bridge you are surrounded by a swamp of arms and hands, reaching up to you almost pleading for help or trying to suck you in. Some are even holding offering bowls.
The White Temple interior
Cameras are not allowed, so we followed the rules and were respectful. We’re not going to give you too much detail about the inside as it’s nice to have an element of surprise.
What you can expect is elaborate bright art, featuring dragons and Buddhist figures.
For us, the outside of the temple and its surrounding structures were more impressive, but each to their own. In our opinion, it is the most impressive and unique temple we have visited during our stay in Thailand.
Others places to visit in Chiang Rai
Visit the Blue Temple / Wat Rong Seur Ten
Another temple that is not to be missed is the Blue Temple, also known as ‘Wat Rong Seur Ten’. With a blue pearly finish, it continues to the tradition of the White Temple by being more contemporary in design.
Visit The Black House Museum / The Baan Dam Museum
One of Thailand’s most weird and interesting places to visit. Created by Thai contemporary artist Thawan Duchanee, the Black House Museum has a multitude of quirky, modern buildings blended in with traditional Northern Thai buildings.
Watch the Clock Tower Light Show
On first impressions, the Clock Tower doesn’t seem that significant. Fast forward to night time, and the Clock Tower comes alive. Watch in awe as the Clock Tower lights up and shows off all its colours to the rhythm of music.
To be honest, we were personally underwhelmed, but hey, it’s something to see and it’s better than being inside scrolling the Facebook feed.
The Clock Tower lights up at 7 pm, 8 pm and 9 pm every night.
Hug fur balls at CAT ‘n’ CUP Cat Café
Are you a cat lover? Snuggle up with cats whilst you sip on coffee and eat a slice of cake. This was the first time we visited a cat café and we enjoyed ourselves. The place is clean and the cats are really friendly. One even had a nap in our hat! Cat in a Hat.
Where to stay in Chiang Rai
We personally stayed in Ann Hostel for 2 nights had little complaints. It was just used for a bed, a hot shower and Wi-Fi, nothing spectacular and it was cheap. They have some decent rooms for couples like us.
Grand Vista Hotel Chiang Rai – Featuring a restaurant, a bar, outdoor swimming pool, air conditioning, 24/h front desk and free parking, you could not ask for any more. This is one of the top hotels in Chiang Rai.
Baan Nukanong Guesthouse – A little more luxurious than Ann Hostel, where we stayed, it features double rooms including your own fridge and most importantly, air conditioning.
Mercy Hostel – Probably the most well-known hostel in Chiang Rai, situated right in the middle of the city. It is the perfect place to meet other backpackers whilst you have a game of pool in their games and lounge area. There’s a mix of dorm rooms for both male & females, as well as private rooms.
- Pack your own sarong to cover up just in case
- Arrive early, the White Temple gets VERY busy
- Need a taxi? Use the Grab app for a fair price and hassle-free booking
Spending more time in Thailand? Have a look at our Thailand blogs