Throughout my journey across Thailand the majority of backpackers I met were unfazed by the idea of visiting Chiang Rai: “the only thing to see there is the white temple.” To be honest, that’s all I was really going for. Remembering the research I had done prior to arriving in Asia, the White Temple stood out in my mind like, well a massive white temple, funnily enough. Never seen one like it before, probably won’t ever again and unlike other temples I’d noted down on my to-dos, this one glared eerily back at me through the screen. It almost felt like something from the Chronicles of Narnia. I wondered whether I might find the White Witch along the way.
But actually when I got there I felt very differently about the prior unease. When the sun is shining, this spiritual site glistened even from miles away. There is something very magical about its sparkling structure. It would be made even more magical if you removed the thousands of selfie sticks.
Turn left out of the temple and take your moped along the beautiful countryside roads and explore the mountainous landscape of the north. My travel companion, Cristina and I felt a lot of joy from getting lost on the windy, rocky routes all the way up to the Khun Korn waterfall.
My verdict: if you’re dedicating time to the north you can easily do Chiang Rai in a day. To avoid going back through Chiang Mai, make Chiang Rai your last pit stop in the north. You can venture directly to Sukhothai (ancient capital of Thailand) or even Laos.