After spending 2 weeks in the south of Thailand, I was overjoyed and beyond ready to begin my adventure in the North of Thailand, which I had heard so many wonderful things about. Immediately upon arriving, it already had a different feel to it. A more cultural and more traveler type vibe versus the busy, beach bumming, tourist one I felt down south.
I landed in Chiang Rai from Phuket in early evening and got a taxi to Mercy Hostel, which was very highly rated, and for good reason. It was in a good location, it was clean, and I got some great nights of sleep.
Before leaving for my trip, one of my longtime friends from high school contacted me about his upcoming travels and wanted advice since I had solo traveled in the past. He started telling me about his trip to Thailand and I stopped him…
“Wait. You’re going to Thailand? I’m going to Thailand! So I’ll see you there!”
It was an awesome coincidence, so halfway into my trip, and at the beginning of his, we were able to meet up in Chiang Rai and travel for about 10 days together.
The first day in Chiang Rai was a day to discover the city. We went to the local markets and occasionally tried the street food available (Mostly I just got fruit smoothies).
The highlight of Chiang Rai and the reason most travelers visit there is the absolutely incredible White Temple. Tempted out in Thailand, you say? This temple is unlike any other I have ever seen. It is a very modern temple completely white with intricate designs and art surrounding it. The outside was stunning but the inside was what caught my attention. When you walk in, there is the signature Buddha alter and statue with offerings and incense, but as you looked on the walls it was so intriguing, many with deeper meanings. I could stare at the walls for hours on end.
On the far wall, it is all good, peaceful, classic paintings that will take your breath away. However as you look at the walls beside you, the realization begins that this really is not a normal temple. It had images of Pokémon, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and other popular movies and fads spread throughout.
One very powerful, yet controversial painting on the wall was of the Twin Towers ablaze. Snakes wrapped around the towers and ended at the bottom turning into a gas pump. This mural was so intriguing, yet horrifying to see, especially as an American citizen.
Exiting the temple, there was more to lighten the mood like a golden wishing well and famous TV and movie character heads hanging from the trees.
This place took me through all kinds of emotions, and is a definite MUST SEE.