Chiang Rai is a city even further north than its neighbor Chiang Mai.
This is already the backwoods of Thailand. The city is not at all pleasant and cozy. In the center of Chiang Rai, there is generally a mess of wires, advertisements, and bad catering.
Instead of dividers on the roads, there are golden heart-shaped frames with photographs of the royal family.
In the center of the circle stands a golden stupa with clocks, which plays music in the evening.
The range of products in the local 7-11 is half as much as in Bangkok. My favorite meatballs with mashed potatoes were not even available.
There is no decent food anywhere, even in the center. Only some stale pizzerias and grill bars. Locals eat at street stalls, where each table has a gas burner to reheat the food.
In the center, there are attempts to decorate the city, with flags hanging over the entire street. However, it doesn’t make it any more cheerful. The locals have rough and unfriendly faces. In general, in Chiang Rai, there are constantly encounters with gopniks.
If you turn off the main street, you will end up in a slum.
Some cuteness can still be found in the outskirts of Chiang Rai, there are a couple of flowering rural streets. However, at night, these streets are poorly lit, and packs of dogs roam around.
There is nothing to do in Chiang Rai. Only a couple of churches and a bunch of identical Buddhist temples can be found there.
Why do tourists come here then? Not far from the city, there is a place called Rong Khun — an absolutely stunning white temple.
People, I swear, I have not seen anything more beautiful in Thailand.
A white bridge with sculptures and elephant tusks leads to the entrance of the temple.
Hands stretch around the bridge. Even Gaudi would envy it.
On a sunny day, the temple is dazzlingly white.
Moreover, all the walls and sculptures are decorated with mirror inserts, so it also sparkles and glitters in the sun.
Just look at the amount of details. It’s so cool.
There is nothing special in the temple itself. People come, pray, and leave. However, there is a Buddhist sitting in the center. I walked past him back and forth, but still couldn’t figure out whether it was a motionless living person or a realistic sculpture from Madame Tussauds.
It’s not allowed to take photos inside, and I’m too lazy to google it. Therefore, let it remain a delightful secret for everyone. However, I was able to spot the Buddhist through my telephoto lens.
Yes, in what year was this beauty built? How old is the temple: one hundred, two hundred, three hundred years old?
That’s right! It is a modern building from 1997, built by a Thai artist. Interestingly, the temple has already survived an earthquake in 2014.
That’s it. To travel to the end of the world for a modern building. By the way, as a bonus, there is also a golden temple that comes with the White Temple.
And absolutely incredible road cones.