This morning we left the beautiful city of Chiang Mai to spend the day travelling north through Chiang Rai to the border town of Houay Xai in Laos. Any border crossing will always be a long day, but we luckily were able to stop firstly at the hot springs and then at the magnificent White temple of Chiang Rai. I want to focus on the temple so I won’t go into too much detail about the border crossing and if you are traveling from Thailand to Laos then you can read up more info here.
The White temple of Chiang Rai or ‘Wat Rong Khun’ is quite honestly spectacular. I have heard, read and seen photos on insta and to be honest I thought it would be another tourist trap, but it is not. NOT AT ALL! Pretty much the temple looks brand new…because it kinda is. It was in such a disastrous state that one of Thailand’s greatest artists – Chalermchai Kositpipat bought it and decided to renovate the whole thing with his own cash!
It costs 100baht to enter which is $5NZD but since 1997 more than 40million Baht has went into creating the most unique temple we have ever seen.
What is very interesting about this temple is that there are a lot of hidden meanings intertwined in the delicate temple’s details. The white colour represents the purity of Buddha while the mirrored surfaces seen throughout represent his wisdom shining across the world. Essentially the meaning is about escaping greed, desire and temptation to reach Nirvana.
It was a really special experience and I am stoked that after 8 Thailand trips I was able to finally tick this off the list.
Day 1 – Bangkok – Overnight train – Chiang Mai. It’s our first day of our 40-day tour through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and as much as I have pretty much covered all these countries before I am still buzzing to get to visit the again! Luckily Leo hasn’t been to any of these places yet so I am stoked I will be able to be excited with him! We checked out our Air B n B and were welcomed at the Stray shop at 3pm where we met our guide Chao and were given information about how everything works on our tour.
From there we hopped aboard a couple of small mini vans to the train station and after buying FAR TOO MANY delicious snacks we boarded the new sleeper train we would be getting to Chiang Mai 13 hours later. I have previously traveled on these trains twice over the past 8 years and I can tell you now…. BOOK THE NEW TRAIN! Man, it’s flash, we had lights, power points, a great menu if you needed dinner and it was comfortable and clean.
If you do not want to want to eat on the train then there are plenty of places to buy food at the station and just bring it with you. We totally over-killed and bought enough food that I could easily set up my own stall for the journey but still managed to eat it all (what the F**k is wrong with me?) **Top tip** - bring ear plugs, a good book and download Netflix on your phone so you have things to watch. It’s also freezing overnight so I would recommend bringing some extra clothes to wear through the night as even-though a little blanket is given, I prefer being toasty warm. It may not be the best sleep of your life but as trains go, it’s really comfortable and quite the adventure.
We have hit a milestone! We have just reached day 300 of our trip and we are in Thailand. I can honestly hardly believe it. It has been such a crazy adventure up to this point and I am so thrilled to be able to be where we are. Exploring this chaotic metropolis this past few days has been a crazy adventure.
So unfortunately, we are visiting during the Coronavirus outbreak and we are definitely feeling it. Everyone has a certain ‘on edge’ kinda look about them and there is definitely a sense of panic everywhere we have been. Luckily, we rented an Air BNB so we have been nestled away in privacy and away from any coronavirus outbreak – it’s been lovely. The Air b n b is lovely, it’s a 1 bedroom apartment but with a huge TV, Netflix and a gym so I have been in heaven. It cost us just over $50nzd a night but it is worth it to have some sort of privacy and more importantly A WASHING MACHINE! God, I will never not appreciate a washing machine again in my life.
So, what have we been up to? Well, I won’t go into too much detail of a day to day breakdown, but I will let you know a few of the highlights.
RECLINING BUDDHA – Costing 200Baht pp will allow you entry to the infamous reclining Buddha situated in the temple of Wat Pho which is probably the most famous in Bangkok, if not the whole of Thailand. Standing at 15metres high and 46meters long it is a truly amazing sight. The surrounding temples are also amazing so we recommend spending around 1-2 hours to really get to explore the Buddha as well as the other temples. **Tip** No singlets, short shorts, or ‘sexy’ outfits, so make sure to cover your shoulders and knees girls, otherwise you have to rent some clothes and they are expensive**
There are also many food stalls around the temple so you can easily pick up some delicious street food, fresh fruit and drinks. We loved this temple and felt it was worth the entry fee unlike the Grand Palace which regardless being here 8 times, I have yet to venture into based on the price and amount of scammers that surround the palace making it a very unwelcoming place.
CHAOPHRAYA RIVER – We decided to do a tour with ‘Tuk tuk boat’ for sunset with a few of Leo’s friends and family. This is a fairly new company which has taken the concept of a tuk tuk and decorated his boats to look exactly like a tuk tuk. We found it to be expensive but it was very enjoyable and we got to see all the sights of the city from the water and over sunset is really lovely.We took our own beers and snacks and for 2 hours were able to really enjoy the river and all the famous landmarks along the way.