Sunday Night market

The 6 Best Markets in Chiang Mai (from Popular to Obscure)

For many centuries, Chiang Mai had an important role in Thai commercial relations with China and the Burmese Kingdom. And these days, considering the number of open-air markets scattered all over town, we could say that trading heritage is still alive. Consequently and to honor that tradition, we’re showing you 6 of the best markets in Chiang Mai.

We aimed for diversity here: there are 3 popular markets, and 3 alternative shopping experiences (the type of market where you won’t find temple pants).

 

1. Chiang Mai night bazaar

Open: every day, from 6 PM to 10:30 PM.
Location:
the i
ntersection of Tha Pae and Chang Klang Roads.

The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is one of the oldest evening markets in Thailand. These days is known as the best spot to buy fake designer goods: from shoes and clothing to fake Rolex and sunglasses.

Have in mind that around here, tourist are the main targets of the vendors so prices will be marked up at least 20%. Get ready to bargain!

 

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar


But Nuno and I share the opinion that the real cultural experience is in the food and drinks area — especially if you like to eat al fresco. There are an array of stalls selling every street food you can imagine, sweet Thai snacks (like banana roti, mango and sticky rice, fruit smoothies), western style restaurants, and bars. All next to a gardened area perfect to socialize and watch the street artist perform.

 

Chiang Mai Street Food

Night market in Chiang Mai (Thailand 2014)

 

2. Sunday Night Market (or Walking Street Market)

Open: every Sunday, all year round, from 4 P.M to 00.00 A.M.
Location: mainly on Ratchadamnoen Road in the center of the walled city, but keeps spreading down many side streets as it gets bigger every year.

Every Sunday afternoon, Ratchadamnoen Road closes to traffic allowing you to walk around without the constant fear of cars. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll experience a relaxed atmosphere.

The Sunday Night Market is the most popular shopping spot in Chiang Mai (both for locals and for tourists) and it can get a bit overwhelming.

Yet, unlike other popular Asian markets, the products on display stand out for its quality and craftsmanship once you filter out the generic bric-a-brac. That’s why it can be the perfect place to purchase souvenirs: you’ll find work from local artisans at great prices.

 

 

Sunday Night Market Chiang Mai

 

But if you’re more interested in the food and entertainment, there’s plenty of that as well. Multiple areas are dedicated to food, so ensure your stomach is empty before arrival. The shows, street entertainers, and musicians start performing after dark on the stages featured either side of the main road.

3. Warorot Market (Kaad Luang) Central Market

Open daily from 06 A.M to 7 P.M.
Located: at the Chang Moi Road, north of Nawarat Bridge near the west side of the River Ping.

Warorot Market (or Kad Luang as locals call it), is less touristy and confined to and around a three storey building, and the goods are organized by floors:

Ground floor: produce and food, particularly Northern Thai dishes such as grilled sausages, sweet curries, crispy pork skin.

 

Warorot Market (41 of 71)

 

Second and third floors: clothing and personal care products.
Alleys around Warorot Market: textiles, hill tribe handicraft, and the beautiful flower market Ton Lamyai.

Here’s where Thais do their shopping: from fresh produce to fireworks, and that’s why a visit to Warorot can be an immersive experience into the local way of life.

 

Warorot Market in Chiang Mai

 

Plus, and as you might expect from a non-touristy place, prices are much cheaper so there’s no need to bargain for a discount.

 

4. Flower Market (Ton Lamyai)

Open 24 hours a day, Mondays to Sundays.
Best time to visit: early mornings.
Location: Thanon Praisani, next to Warorot Market, along the River Ping.

If you’re an early bird looking for a pleasurable market experience in Chiang Mai, head up to Ton Lamyai. This vibrant bazaar specialized in flowers is a beautiful way to start your day.

 

Flower Market


Piles, bouquets, and garlands of fresh blossoms arrive from farms around Chiang Mai in the early hours of the morning, adorning Ton Lamyai with exotic colors and the fragrance of a thousand flowers (so make sure to take an antihistamine before).

 

 

5. The Amulet Market (Kad Kham Tieng)

Open: Thursdays from 7 A.M to 2 P.M
Location: north of the Old City off the Superhighway behind Tesco Superstore.

Kad Kham Tieng is one of the most intriguing bazaars in Chiang Mai and the in-spot for all superstitious people. As most Thais believe that good luck, protection, and fortune can be influenced by wearing ‘charged’ amulets, the inventory around here is quite strange:

• Eyebrow hairs from special monks
• Incense ashes
• Monk blood
• Scarves with magic spells
• Pollen
• Old opium pipes

And thousands of other options — all spiritually charged by ceremonial chanting.

 

Buddhist Amulets

The amulet prices can go all the way up to 10 million bahts when considering its rarity, the monk that performed the ceremony, and the temple that ceremony was held.

Kad Kham Tieng may not a very large market, but it is a unique spot to spend your Thursday mornings in.

 

6. Jing Jai Organic market

Open: Wednesdays, Saturdays from 6 AM to 9 AM and Sundays from 6 AM 12 PM.
Location: 45 Assadathon Road, Chiang Mai

For the health conscious people wanting to move away from the touristy markets, Jing Jai is the best option. On Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sunday mornings the market complex becomes a source for everything organic and locally grown: food, vegetables, fruits, and fresh pressed juices.

 

 

On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays from 10 AM to 18 PM, you’ll still find a similarly relaxed atmosphere in the area, but there’s no Organic market. There are coffee shops and restaurants to sit back, and a few vendors selling second-hand furniture and antiques. In the evenings, the surrounding area comes to life with a myriad of outdoor Thai-style bars.

If we missed your favorite local market, feel free to shoot us a note in the comments!

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

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Songthaews and buses in Chiang Mai

All transportation from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

There are several transportation options to travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Below, you’ll find a set of alternatives to do so along with costs, timetables, and trip durations so you can decide which works best for you.

 

Buses from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Bus trips take 10 to 12 hours.
You can book your trip at one of the many travel agencies in town (but preferably near your accommodation), at the desk of your hotel, or at Mo Chit Bus Terminal.

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dgmckelvey/6907009264/

Tourist Buses

Tourist bus tickets fees to Chiang Mai start at 530 THB.

Most buses depart from Khao San Road every hour. If you opt for the overnight bus and need to put a backpack on the luggage hold underneath, make sure to carry your valuables with you on the bus.

Deluxe Buses

Deluxe bus tickets fees can go up to 850 THB.

All deluxe buses heading to Chiang Mai depart from Mo Chit Bus Terminal (easily accessible via Skytrain).
You can buy your ticket for that day once you arrive at the station. There are complimentary snacks and water for the road.



Bagkok Skytrain
Bangkok Skytrain BTS

 

From Chiang Mai Bus Station to the city center

Chiang Mai has two bus stations: Arcade Bus Station and Chang Puak Bus Station.
The Arcade Bus Station is located at Kaeo Narawat Road. Terminals 2 and 3 is where all the long-distance buses coming from outside the Chiang Mai province arrive and depart (Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Phitsanulok, Ubon, Korat, Nan, Luang Prabang, Mae Sot).

From the Arcade Bus Station, you can quickly arrange a songthaew to take you to the city (Tha Phae Gate). The songthaews fare is 100 THB, but if you’re willing to wait for the songthaew to fill up, you can lower the price to THB 20 per person (expect to pay more if you want them to take you to the hotel). The trip takes around 15 minutes.

 

Songthaew

 

By Airplane

Chiang Mai International Airport receives domestic and international flights. There are daily flights coming in from Bangkok at almost every hour.

 

Air Asia X A330

 

The low-cost airlines operating at this airport are:
• Air Asia
• Nokair
• Thai Smile

Plane tickets from Bangkok to Chiang Mai can cost around 500 up to 1500 THB, and flights take an average of 1h20m.

 

From the Airport to Chiang Mai:

There are taxis waiting at the northern end of the airport, and trips to the city center should cost around 160 THB.

In the southern end, you’ll find the Airport shuttle buses (not very frequent) charging 60 THB, and songthaews charging 40 THB. Both only tend to only leave when they’re full.

Tip: If you’re willing to walk a few hundred meters on the main road outside the airport, you’ll be able to get a songthaew for 20-25 THB.

 

By Train

You can travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train during the day or at night. Check the timetables here: www.railway.co.th

Trips can take 14 to 16 hours, therefore, to optimize your time, you can travel at night on a sleeping train. As this is a very sought after option, buy your tickets in advance. And to avoid commissions stay away from travel agencies and buy the ticket at the Station counter yourself.

 

Hua Lamphong Railway Station, Bangkok

 

Costs will vary according to the class you want to travel in: starting at 791 THB up to 1650 THB.

Have in mind that Chiang Mai train station is located 3 km from the city center, but there will be songthaews at hand on the train station.

 

If you have any question or some extra info to add, let us know in the comments.

Nuno and Mario

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Yee Peng and Loi Krathong

The lineup for Chiang Mai Festivals (Year round Program)

Brahmanic, Buddhist, and Lanna heritages endowed Chiang Mai with a plentiful array of cultural expressions. Over time (and thanks to a community with artistic aptitude), traditions evolved into festivals and celebrations that won the hearts of Thais and the interest of the world.

Planning a visit to Chiang Mai? Festivals spread out year round, so there might be one coinciding with your visit. Check the program below:

 

January. Bo Sang Umbrella & Handicrafts Festival

When:

Every year on the third weekend of January, for 3 days.

Where:

Bo Sang, a village 9 km southeast of Chiang Mai.

How to get Bo Sang:

By songthaew or by bus (White Bus). You can catch either near the river by Warorot Market. The trip takes 25 minutes and should cost roughly 20 THB.

Bo Sang is home to skilled craftspeople in the making of rice paper fans, lanterns, and umbrellas. During the festival, the village streets and alleys are illuminated by lanterns, while hundreds of paper parasols decorate the outside of houses and shops.

 

Umbrella Festival, Chiang Mai

 

It all gets particularly magical after the sun sets, so take the time to go for a night stroll and visit the umbrella making shops.

 

Chiang Mai 2016-24

What to expect:

• Old school carnival games,
• Umbrella making workshops,
• Umbrella painting competition (locals compete to win the year’s most beautiful umbrella),
• Concerts,
• Lanna style dancing performances,
• Parades (2:00 PM)
• Northern Thai food festival,
• A local beauty pageant.

 

Chiang Mai 2016-26

 

February. The Chiang Mai Flower Festival

When:

On the first weekend of February (1, 2, and 3 of February 2019)

Where:

The key spot is Nong Buak Haad public park.
The Flower Parade goes through Nawarat bridge to Thapae road, Kotchasarn Road, Changlor Road and Arak Road.

Running for over 40 years, the Chiang Mai Flower Festival is a 3-day celebration that showcases Chiang Mai’s unique flowers and plants (all in full bloom at the beginning of February).

 

IMG_1040

 

What to expect:

• Rare flowers exhibitions,
• Dancers and entertainers,
• Musical performances,
• Plenty of Thai food and drinks,
• Miss Flower contest,
• The Flower Parade.

 

Chiang Mai flower parade
Photo by Devon Sampson

 

On Saturday morning (starting at 8 A.M), the long-awaited Flower Parade goes out to the streets. Floats are decorated with millions of natural flowers and accompanied by dancers in traditional costumes.

 

Flower Festival Parade 2015-13

Chiang Mai Flower Festival

The floats are considered the highlight of the event. For many months in advance, thousands of locals participate in the building of the floats, making them items of great pride to the community.

As many Thais travel to Chiang Mai for the festivities, streets are not the only place that gets packed with people — so do accommodations. Make your reservations in advance!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/_motormouse_/26373726011/

 

February. Jai Thep Art and Music Festival

Where:

Lanna Rock Garden in Hang Dong, south of Chiang Mai.

When:

February 2, 3, and 4.

Ticket price:

850THB (1-day ticket)
1.500THB (2-day ticket)
1.900THB (3-day ticket)
You can camp there for free if you take your own tent.

Jai Thep is a family-friendly festival created by a collective of artists, and defined as a “3-day celebration of art, music, and magic”.

 

 

Along the enclosure of the event are 4 stages occupied by bands and DJs from Thailand and the international scene.

Music genres:

• House
• Drum’n’bass
• Psytrance.
• Electro-chill

You’ll find hundreds of art installations and a great number of creative workshops that’ll suit adults and children.

For more information on Jai Thep go to www.jaithepfestival.com

 

April. Songkran the Water Festival

When:

April 13th, 14th and 15th 2018.

Where:

All over the city center, but the key celebration spots are near the Tha Pae Gate.

Marking the new solar year, the high energy ceremonies last for 3 days, and they’re the perfect time to let the child in you come out and play. The most popular custom of Songkran is the water fights all over town.

 

Songkran_2014-35

Songkran_added-3

Have in mind that what to us Westerners seems like a good laugh, represents to Thai people the purification of the body and soul. Songkran is a beloved symbolic tradition, therefore some etiquette is required:

• Don’t take your shirt off, no matter how soaked or how hot it is that day
• No bikinis and no short-shorts.  
• Don’t through water to monks, babies, and the elderly.

Tip:

Being the most anticipated public holiday for Thais, expats, and backpackers, book your accommodation early.

 

November. Yee Peng and Loi Krathong Festivals

When:

during the full moon of November, so the date is subject to change. If you write “Loy Krathong” on to Google, you’ll get the correct date for that year.

For 2018 the dates are November 21, 22 and 23.

Where:

Tha Pae gate, particularly between the Nawarat and Iron Bridges.

Loi Krathong or Festival of lights is celebrated for 3 days, once a year. Most ceremonies take place in the evening on various venues throughout Chiang Mai.

What to expect:

• Lantern procession,
• A beauty pageant,
• Parades,
• Boat races on the Mae Ping river,
• Krathong making competitions,
• Lantern release
• Krathong launch

The day before Loi Krathong takes place the Yee Peng ceremony. People decorate their houses, temples, and streets with paper lanterns of many shapes and colors.

 

Yi Peng Lanterns

At night the paper lanterns are lit and tossed into the air, carrying a wish for good fortune in the new year.

 

Untitled

 

Simultaneously, on the Mae Ping river are released hundreds of krathong (baskets made of banana leaves, adorned with incense and candles), to honor the Water Spirit.

 

Loi_Krathong

 

The krathong symbolizes letting go of all sins and misfortunes of the previous year.

 

 

Extra

For on and off festivals and upcoming events, check the website City Now!- Chiang Mai. 

Cover photo by Rodney Ee

Nuno and Mario

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Quick Guide to Chiang Rai Night Markets

The night markets in Chiang Rai may not be as big as the ones in Chiang Mai, but is size that important? Around here, what they lack in size they make up for in organization and the laid back character you’d expect from a small-town bazaar.

So if you’re looking for inexpensive night-time entertainment and food, keep reading.

 What to expect from a Thai Night Market

– Northern Thai food and drinks;
– Handcrafted products;
– Thai massage;
– Clothing;
– Thai dancing shows;

– Folk concerts;
– A good time.

Thai people love night markets, and they do so for a reason: it’s so hot during the day, that it is much more pleasant to do your shopping at night. For us foreigners, these night hubs are more than a place to shop for souvenirs. They’re communal places for entertainment, music, and good food — it’s Thailand after all!

 

Saturday Night Market

Open every Saturday from 04.30 P.M to 00.30 A.M.
Located on Thana Lai Road, right in the city center.

Every Saturday by mid-afternoon, Thana Lai Road closes to traffic and opens up for people to wander through the stalls. After a bit of browsing, you’ll find the quality work of local artisans standing out from the generic bric-a-brac.

Still, if you’re not planning on buying anything due to a full backpack, there’s an abundance of Thai snacks and desserts to fill your empty stomach.

 

Khanom Bueang

 

If you’re there to eat, we recommend an early dinner — by 8:00 P.M the place will be jammed packed with people and the queues for buying food get long.

 

Stalls at Saturday Night Market Chiang Rai

 

Having said that, this is also when the market starts to get it going: when the Chinese lanterns are lit, and entertainers start to perform.

Have in mind that if you’re a tourist and look like a tourist you’ll have to bargain. Chances are that vendors doubled the price just for you.

 Sunday Happy Street (Snag Khon Noil)

Open Sundays from 5:00 P.M to 11:00 P.M
Located on Sankhongnoi Road near the Chiang Rai Hospital. Just a 10-minute walk from the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar.

The main feature of the Sunday Happy Street is its family-friendly atmosphere. The eating spots on this one are a great way to relax, mingle with locals, and enjoy typical northern Thai cuisine.

 

Thai grilled Squid

 

Even though this street market is smaller than the one on Saturdays, the shops along Sankhongnoi Road open their doors to help even it out.

 

Chiang Rai Night Bazaar

Open daily from 6:00 P.M to 11:00 P.M regardless of the weather.
Located near the Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1, off Phaholyothin Road.

We found the Night Bazaar to be more touristy than the weekend markets. Not by the amount of tourist walking around, but for the type products being sold — the same overpriced knick-knacks repeated on every stall. Although touristy, vendors were never pushy though.

 

Fresh fruit at Night Market

Fresh orange juice

 

Most locals hang out near the food and beer area. Next to it is a temple yard with benches and tables where they eat, socialize and watch artists perform. When the crowd is familiar with the music, they’ll get up and dance (and everyone is invited to join).

 

The Municipal Market Food Court

Open from 7:00 P.M to 11:00 P.M.
Located near the Night Bazaar is a tin-roofed Municipal Market.

The food court inside has stalls all around the perimeter specialized in fried treats, and hot pots.

 

Hot Pot stall Chiang Rai

Photo by Marvin Wan


In the center are hundreds of chairs and tables to eat on, and a stage where local entertainers perform while you munch a crispy deep-fried whatever.

 

Dining area Municipal food Court.

Image by Marvin Wan

 

Kaad Luang (The Big Wet Market)

Open daily from 17:00 P.M to 00:00 A.M
Located on Uttarakit Road, three blocks north of the Clock Tower.

Chiang Rai Kaad Luang starts the day as a regular bazaar but transforms into a street food paradise when the sun sets.

 

Fresh produce Night Markets

 

Vendors hit the streets and set up their stalls around the main building. In almost no time, the entire street block is occupied by a myriad of fresh fruit and pick up meal options: from fresh seafood to desserts.

If you don’t know where to begin, let the scent of the stir-fried garlic guide you.


Cover photo by Maxim B.

Nuno and Mario

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Public bus to the bizarre Black House (Baan Dam) in Chiang Rai

If you want to save some money and don’t mind walking for a bit, the public bus is the cheapest option to get to The Black House (Baan Dam) in Chiang Rai.
Still, if you’re looking for an untroubled ride all the up to the gates of Baan Dam, there are some alternatives at the bottom of the post.

Catching the Green Bus

Go to the Chiang Rai old Bus Station (in the city center, near the night bazaar) and find the green bus going to Mae Sai usually parked on Platform 5.

Timetable: green buses departure every 15 to 30 minutes, or when the bus gets full.
Bus ticket price: 20 Baht one-way trip.
Duration: around 20 minutes.

 

Green Bus Chiang Rai

 

As you buy the ticket inside the bus, let the conductor and ticket holder know that you’re going to the Black House so they can signal you at the drop-off point.  When you leave the bus there are two route options:

 

Route to the back entrance (the shortest)

Right next to the drop-off spot is the correct lane to walk on. After walking 50 meters, The Black House buildings will become visible to your left.

Turn left at the wooden-gazeebo-looking-sign indicating Soi 13 and walk a further 10 minutes. This path will take you through some houses and up to a small clearing where you’ll see the back entrance of The Black House.

Heads up: as visitors are now charged a fee to enter the park, we can’t guarantee that there will be a ticket office at the rear entrance. 

Route to the front entrance

Alternatively, instead of turning left on Soi 13, keep walking straight on the paved road for approximately 400 meters and then turn left into a small Soi that takes you to the front entrance of Baan Dam. Check the map below.

 

Map to Baan Dam the Black House

 

Baan Dam – The Black House

Opening hours: opens daily (weekends included), from 09:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Closes for lunch from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM.
Entrance fee: 80 Baht.

In a 100 acres parkland in the Ban Du district, north of Chiang Rai, Thai artist Thawan Duchanee spent 25 years creating Baan Dam (the Black House).

 

Black building at Baan Dam

Black House exterior

Main building interior

Baan Dam whale room


There are 40 buildings spread around the park along with art pieces and installations. Most buildings are made of black wood and decorated with macabre elements like bones, animal skins, pelts, and dead animal parts.

 

Animal skins in Baan Dam

Baan Dum (Black House) - By Thawan Duchanee - Chiang Rai - Thailand - 09

Baan Dum (Black House) - By Thawan Duchanee - Chiang Rai - Thailand - 13


Duchanee’s art mixes traditional northern Thai design with Balinese, Burmese and African influences
and it’s all open to interpretation. 

 

Balinese influence

Ganesha sculpture

 

Some people see it as a commentary on Buddhist philosophies, while others state that his intention was to remind us of the darkness inside ourselves, and the imminent death of all things.

 

Buffalo skulls

 

There’s a palpable, creepy vibe as you stroll around the park (some buildings are off-limits to the public), but also a subversive sense of humor. 

 

Mario and Nuno at the Black House

 

It’s like the artist was trying to tell us: “Don’t take life too seriously, we’re all going to die”.

 

Portrait of Thawan Duchanee (1939-2014)

 

Back to Chiang Rai Bus Terminal

Head back towards the highway where you got off the bus and hail to any bus you see going in Chiang Rai direction either the green ones you came in or the grey mini-buses. Have in mind that there’s no bus stop there.

The trip back to Chiang Rai is a further 20 THB.

 

Transportation alternatives

Hire a songthaew in Chiang Rai for about 300 Baht for the round trip. They’ll try to charge you more, so be ready to negotiate.

Any travel agency in Chiang Rai sells organized tours to Baam Dam that often include a visit to Wat Rong Khun.  Prices will vary from agency to agency, so look around for the best deal.
Have in mind that departure and arrival times will be scheduled to fit everything on a tour. So you will be rushed.

 

Can we ask for a favor?

If you try the rear entrance route, let us know if it is still a viable option—it can help other travelers out. Thanks in advance! 😀

Nuno and Mario

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Taking the public bus to the White temple

As the White Temple is located 13km from Chiang Rai center, you’ll need some sort of transportation to get there. The long distance and busy roads don’t make the bicycle a viable option, and the 300 TBH charged by taxis and songthaews sure don’t make them the cheapest.

Whenever this happens we make sure to find the next cheapest alternative, that in this case was the public bus.

We walked to Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1 (in the city center, near the night bazaar) to find a bus that could take us to our destination. As we arrived at the bus station, we came across a rickety old blue bus with a tarpaulin saying “White Temple” on it. That was easy!

 

Public blue bus to Wat Rong Khun

Public bus to White Temple

Banner on the blue bus

 

The banner and the unsolicited ticket revisor that kept expansively confirming that was the “only bus to the White Temple” made us a little suspicious. But after several locals bought the ticket at the station kiosk and got on the bus, we took a change and did the same.

 

Bus timetable (2017):

Mornings 06:15 – 07:10 – 08:10 – 09:10.
From 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM every 30 minutes.
Afternoons 14:35 – 15:10 – 15:45 – 16:20 – 17:00

Cost: 20 Baht, one-way trip.
Duration: 20 minutes.

 

The bus was old and worn out, but chock filled with character and was worth the trip itself. From the weird proportions, the rickety noises, and the dashboard decorations of Buddhist memorabilia, photographs, and every happy meal toy under the sun.

 

Old Thai bus interior

 

The revisor lady from before proved to be quite helpful by waving at us at the nearest bus stop to the White Temple: a generic spot just off Highway 1 (Phahonyothin Road), that we wouldn’t be able to identify on our own.

On the opposite side of the road, a few meters ahead were the grounds of the Wat Rong Khun.

 

Robot Sculpture Wat Rong Khun

 

White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

Opening hours: from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, closes at mid-day for an hour.
Ticket fee: As from October 2016, non-thai people will be charged 50 Baht.

What to wear: shoulders and knees must be covered, and as always, shoes must be taken off before entering the main temple.

If you’re tired of visiting temples by now, suck it up and don’t miss this one — it’s one of Chiang Rai’s most visited attractions for a reason!

 

White temple bridge details

 

The lavishly decorated temple is unlike anything we saw around Thailand. Every element was consciously designed by the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat and is full of symbolism.

 


On the bridge leading to the temple, you’ll find depictions of the anger, suffering and worldly temptations that you’ll have to leave behind to find happiness.

 


The temple is white to represent the purity of the Buddha, and the glistening intricate mirror work embedded on the plaster is there to reflect his wisdom to the world.

 

Wat Rong Khun

 

The interior of the main temple is all gold (and much smaller than it appears to be). On the back walls are paintings of pop culture reference like Hello Kitty, Spider-Man, the Terminator, and George W. Bush. These represent life without faith, they’re the false heroes incapable of saving the world from war and destruction.
On the walls in the front, where the altar is, you’ll see paintings of humans flying freely through the clouds. These represent the people who followed Buddha’s teachings and achieved peace. Sorry for the lack of pictures, but taking photos is not allowed in the main building.

 

The site grounds

On the outside of the temple is a canopy of prayer plates and by walking under it you’ll reach the meditation hall, the famous golden restroom, the art gallery and the museum. 

 

Canopy of prayer plates

Prayer plates at Wat Rong Khun

Predator sculpture

 

The museum is dedicated to the works of Chalermchai Kositpipat: many of his works are a satirical commentary on international politics and the destruction of the planet. You’ll need an hour for the visit.

The temple site is still under construction and expanding. Only by 2070, the artist complete vision will be finished.

 

White buddha

Esculpture at the Golden bathroom

 

In front of Wat Rong Khun is a small area with cafes, restaurants, and shops.

 

About Chalermchai Kositpipat

 

 

Back To Chiang Rai

Head back towards the highway where you got off the bus and find a wooden pergola/ bus stop on the opposite side. Hail to the first bus you see (every half hour-ish). The trip back is a further 20 THB.

 

Bus Stop Wat Rong Khun

 

If you have any questions or new info to share about buses to the White Temple, leave it in the comments below.

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

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Golden Buddha in Ayutthaya

The ancient town of Ayutthaya

The town of Ayutthaya is a great place to visit for a few days if you feel like resting from the nonstop buzz of Bangkok.
It’s a small town surrounded by three rivers and it once was the state capital of the Kingdom of Thailand, only a 76 km train ride away from Bangkok.

 

Train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya

 

It’s a picturesque 1.5-hour train ride that only costs 15THB in 3rd class, on an old train filled with Thais of all ages. The train passes through sugarcane fields, small villages, temples, rice paddies, and plains.

Being dry season we got to do the entire trip with windows opened, feeling the breeze in our faces, smelling the dust from the land and listening to birdsongs. We reached Ayutthaya painted in black freckles from the dust.

 

Comboio

If you need a snack during the trip, there will be enough vendors with food and drinks to sell at every stop. Some inside the train and others from the outside, through the windows.

As soon as we got to Ayutthaya train station, a flock of tuk-tuk drivers started touting to every tourist in sight, including us.

– Sir, Tuk-tuk? Where are you from? Where are you going?
– No thank you. We’re good!

 

From the train station to the city

To get into town, you need to cross the bridge or get a boat (4THB).
Stubbornly, we decided to decline every tuk-tuk offer, taxi, boat crossing opportunity and did it all by foot, carrying 4 backpacks under intense heat, at 12:00 PM. Did we mention the dry season? Yeah.

We ended up walking for 40 minutes until we found our hostel: One Baan Love.

 

Ayutthaya Temples entrance fee (2016)

There’s an entrance fee at almost every temple in Ayutthaya. You can buy a full ticket for 220THB that grants you access to 6 temples for a whole month:

– Wat Phra Si Sanphet,
– Wat Chai Wattanaram,
– Wat Phanan Choeng,
– Wat Phra Mahathat
– Wat Ratburana

Or you can also pay 50THB at the entrance of each one.
We decided to not buy the full ticket and choose the ones we want to get in.

 

Nuno and Mario at Phra Si Sanphet in Ayutthaya

 

As in any other Buddhist temple, you’ll need to dress appropriately: no daisy dukes, bikini tops, or bare shoulders. Ladies, you should wear something appropriate as well. 😉

 

Reclining Buddha Wat Lokayasutharam in Ayutthaya Thailand

 

All temples open for visits at 8 AM, some of them close at 4:30 PM, others at 6 PM.
Tip: if you want to enjoy some of the temples for yourself, visit them at launch hours (12:00 PM to 14:30 PM). Wear sunscreen.

 

Temple in Ayutthatya

 

The temples are designed in Khmer style and most of them are in really bad shape, mainly because of the Burmese destruction back in the day: Buddhas sculptures were beheaded and stones were stolen and sold.

 

Regardless of all that, the ruins of the ancient town of Ayutthaya are impressive!
You can understand their original size and architectural detail in the mockups at the entrances.

 

A mockup model of a temple in Ayutthaya

 

Some of the sites were under some conservation and restoration work to repair the damages caused by the floods in recent years.

 

Phra Si Sanphet in Ayutthaya

 

The temples are solid and tower-like, so even though you can climb the stairs on some, you cannot go inside. Also, some stupas are closed to the public. We were only able to visit the stupa of the Wat Phu Khao Thong.

 

In two days we managed to visit:

– Wat Choeng Tha
– Wat Phu Khao Thong
– Wat Na Phra Men
– Wat Lokayasutharam
– Wat Thammikarat
– Wat Phra Si Sanphet
– Wat Chai Wattanaram
– Wat Ratburana

And left a whole lot to see.

 

Ayutthaya Wat Chai Wattanaram

 

Looking back, we should’ve spent more than 2 days in Ayutthaya. The sunsets at Wat Chaiwatthanaram are incredible and we wouldn’t mind the opportunity to see one more.

 

 

Riding a bicycle around town

The majority of the temples are in the central part of town, so to reach the further temples, we rented 2 bicycles for 40THB each.

P.S- You can find even cheaper bikes if you rent them out of the city center.

 

Mario on a bycicle near a temple in Ayutthaya

Is fairly easy to rent a bicycle anywhere in Southeast Asia, plus the flat terrains and the great weather makes them the best affordable choice to move around.

Ayutthaya, being way less popular than Bangkok is also less touristy

There is less accommodation to choose from and a bit more expensive than the capital. Restaurants do not abound, especially if you come from the jumble of street food in Bangkok—but prices are quite similar. If you get out of the temple area, you can have a good meal for 35THB.

In our quest to find food, we crashed by mistake a local graduation party in an open sports field packed with food stalls and teenagers. We were hungry and new in town, so don’t judge.
While we were waiting in line to get food, some locals approached us and asked to take some photos with them. Maybe the sight of two tall, bearded dudes in the middle of a high school graduation party seemed funny to them.

 

Speaking of locals

In the interactions we had, they were kind and genuine without the ulterior motives you can’t help to feel in Bangkok.
Also in several places, we found warnings about stray dogs that like to jump at people. We never had any problems, probably because our legs are too skinny for them to bother.
If you must, use your tourist sword to scare them away—a selfie-stick can be a powerful weapon, use it wisely.

 

Dogs immitate Buddha?

 

Ayutthaya travel expenses (Daily average for 1 person)

Breakfast: € 2,06
Meals: € 1,35
Water: € 0,20
Hotel: € 9€ (Private double room)
Bicycle rent: € 0,64
Train: € 0,58 (Two way trip to Bangkok)

If you have any questions or some extra info everybody can benefit from, please leave it down in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

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Sad Bangkok Smiles

The sad smiles of Bangkok

After an eleven hour trip, we arrived at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport at 7:30 am and a scalding breeze welcomed us as we left the plane.
Nuno was afraid that they wouldn’t let us pass through the immigration port because we didn’t have a return flight. The process ended up being quite simple, some minutes in the queue, a smile from us, a photo and two stamps from them.
We were officially in Thailand! Kob khun krap!

Hopped on a train to the city center for 45THB in a 25min ride. The train is above ground which allowed us to see the city from afar. First the neighborhoods with terraced houses, separated by greens lakes, waterways and banana trees. Here and there the golden roofs of temples peaked from between the trees. As the city got closer, the train got fuller with quiet locals absorbed by their cell phones and sniffing on Vapex inhalers.

 

Airport Rail Link

 

We left the train at the last stop (Phaya Thai) and started to feel the real city: traffic noises, new smells, thousands of locals in every direction and the unforgivable heat. We barely started walking and we were already sweating profusely. We got to Bangkok in a flight from Stockholm, so we were still wearing semi-winter clothes.

 

Notorious Bangkok Traffic, Thailand

Satay vendor, Ratchathewi, Bangkok

 

After some minutes walking, we entered the first building that seemed to have air-con. It was a mall filled with teenagers and a nice food court, an opportunity to freshen up and grab something to eat. We ate Tom Yum Noodle Soup.

 

spicy noodles

 

With a full stomach, the journey to the hostel started. It was quite an adventure under the scalding sun.
We walked and walked, turning and rolling the map* on itself, asking the locals for help, but getting back a smile and Thai gibberish that didn’t help at all. Every kilometer made the bags feel heavier.

*You can get the city map on the airport at the Tourism Authority of Thailand for free.

As soon as we found the right street a thai guy approached us asking where we came from, how many days we’ll spend in Bangkok, and to where we were heading. He told us that being a Friday, some monuments were totally free and the tuk tuks with the yellow license plates were cheaper and would gladly take us there.
He also insisted a hundred times that we should go see the Big Standing Buddha.
We just want to get to our hostel man. Not now.

 

Tuk tuk

 

So here’s the deal: if you go to Bangkok you will get approached by tuk tuks non-stop.
And if not by tuk tuks, by guys working on commission for them, or for a store that makes money selling overpriced crap to tourist. Be prepared.

To them, anything works as an icebreaker:

– Hey ma’ friend. Where are you from?
– When did you arrived to Thailand?
– Nice beard. How long did it take to get it like that?
– Where are you going?
– When are you leaving Thailand?
– I’m an University teacher and I’m not trying to sell you anything, but…
– Need help ma’friend?

Days later a tuk-tuk guy, after we refused his ride, actually lied to us saying the temple we we’re considering visiting was closed that day. After insisting on trying anyways, he sent us in the wrong direction, following us until we got completely lost, trying then to make the sell. Not cool man, not cool.

And the funny part was that in the end, he just wanted to take us to the Big Standing Buddha.
All of this persecution will make you feel like a Big Dumb Standing Tourist.

 

Tuktuk

 

Bangkok is a worn down, full of life, hectic city.
A reflection of that is the famous Kao San Road, a place for the ones who like to party. Neon lights, hundreds of tourists, street shops, vodka buckets and loud music from the bars constantly competing with each other.

 

Khao San Road

 

Parallel to Kao San, is the mellow and bohemian Rambuttri Road. Good music, plenty of street food, fruit sellers, cool restaurants, nice bars, lighted trees, and plenty of Thai massage spots. It’s a great place to have dinner and spend your evening.
Definitely worth a visit.

 

Rambuttri Road

 

Thailand is renowned for it’s cheap and delicious street food. It’s everywhere at any time of day. You can have a delicious pad thai from 50 to 80 THB.

There are plenty of iced sliced fruit to eat for 20 THB. Sweet mango, papaya, dragon fruit, watermelon and pineapples, all peeled off and sliced, laying in huge amounts of crushed ice.

 

Fruit sellers, Bangkok, Thailand.

 

You should also try the egg and banana pancakes, the coconut water, and all the fruit juices at hand.

You’ll also feel the need to drink insane amounts of water. We went to Thailand in March and the heat was intense! Fortunately, water was everywhere, you can buy them at any 7 Eleven scattered all over Bangkok. A big water is only 13THB, the same price we buy them in Portugal, plus, you can buy them cold. It’s also a good excuse to break your 500 or 1000THB bills.

Talking about money, there are ATM machines available everywhere, so no need to worry. But they’ll all charge you a 200THB fee for every withdrawal. To that, don’t forget to add your own bank’s fee.

 

Bangkok slum

 

I believe we’ve all heard about the famous Thai sympathy. Locals do have a constant gentle smile on their faces, especially to foreigners, but they’re also quite reserved. This narrowed our interactions to vendors and merchants, and according to our experience, they’ll drop the smile as soon as you drop the money.
Maybe you’ll get a robotic ‘Bye’ at the end.
But maybe that’s just in Bangkok.

By the way, we ended up finding the Big Standing Buddha by ourselves.
Couldn’t understand what was the fuss all about.

 

Bangkok travel expenses (Daily average for 1 person)

Meals: 1,96€
Water: 0,27€
Hotel: 5,50€ (Private double room)
Subway from Suvarnabhumi Airport to city center: 1,00€
Tuk-tuk to Chatuchak market: 2,60€
Site’s entrance fees: 6,39€

If you have any questions or some extra info everybody can benefit from, please leave it down in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

Read more
FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
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