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The 3 Absolute Best Temples To Visit In Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand

Chiang Rai, located in northern Thailand, is famous for its unique, stunning temples full of intricate details.

The temples in Chiang Rai are some of the best and most impressive in the whole of Thailand and are an absolute must-visit on any itinerary.

If you only have a short time in the city, or just want to visit the most well-known temples in Chiang Rai (let’s be honest, we don’t always want to be trapsing around visiting every single temple), these are the most extraordinary ones you need to check out:

Wat Huay Pla Kang Chiang Rai Goddess of Mercy buddha temple

The 3 Best Temples In Chiang Rai

1. Wat Rong Khun (The White Temple)

Opening times: 8am – 6pm daily

Entrance fee: 100 THB

Location: 14km south of Chiang Rai city centre – see Google Maps location

Chiang Rai White Temple In Thailand Wat Rong Khun

Wat Rong Khun is not only the most famous temple in Chiang Rai, but the most popular tourist site in the whole of the city and is a must on any travel itinerary of Chiang Rai!

It is so unique with its striking all-white facade and sculptures of hundreds of hands reaching out from the ground, and absolutely no visit to Chiang Rai is complete without seeing the impressive Wat Rong Khun! 

Chiang Rai White Temple In Thailand Wat Rong Khun

Designed and created by artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the temple is very beautiful, with reflective glass mosaics, intricate details and elaborate carvings all around the temple.

Chiang Rai White Temple In Thailand Wat Rong Khun

The temple blends traditional Buddhist architecture with contemporary and unconventional art, and symbolises purity and enlightenment.

The bridge leading to The White Temple, where you will find the hands reaching out from the ground, signifies the endless desires we as humans have, as well as the journey to a state of enlightenment. It is honestly such an interesting place to visit.

Chiang Rai White Temple In Thailand Wat Rong Khun

There are so many beautiful corners at Wat Rong Khun where you can get stunning photos. As this is the most popular tourist site in Chiang Rai, it does get pretty busy during the day.

Chiang Rai White Temple In Thailand Wat Rong Khun

If you want to visit when it is quieter, the best time to get to The White Temple is at 5pm, which is one hour before closing. By this time, most of the tour groups and visitors have all left.

Chiang Rai White Temple In Thailand Wat Rong Khun

2. Wat Rong Suea Ten (The Blue Temple)

Opening Times: 7am – 8pm daily

Entrance Fee: Free

Location: 5km north of Chiang Rai city centre. See Google Maps location here.

Chiang Rai Blue Temple - Wat Rong Suea Ten  

The Blue Temple is another unique and very impressive temple in Chiang Rai that you must visit, covered in vibrant sapphire blue and striking gold detailing. 

It was designed by Putha Kabkaew, a student of Chalermchai Kositpipat – who designed The White Temple, and you can see elements of similarity between the two.

Chiang Rai Blue Temple - Wat Rong Suea Ten

Outside the front of The Blue Temple you’ll find sculptures of mythical creatures, as well as sculptures of skulls at the back of the temple grounds.

Chiang Rai Blue Temple - Wat Rong Suea Ten

The blue colour symbolises the Dharma, or the teachings of Buddha, and the gold details represent the enlightenment that comes from understanding these teachings. It’s so beautiful, and a lot less crowded than The White Temple!

Chiang Rai Blue Temple - Wat Rong Suea Ten

The inside of the temple is also blue, and the interiors are decorated with murals that depict Buddhist teachings. There is also a beautiful giant white Buddha statue inside the temple. Unlike The White Temple, you are allowed to take photos inside The Blue Temple.

Chiang Rai Blue Temple - Wat Rong Suea Ten

3. Wat Huay Pla Kang

Opening Times: 7am – 9pm daily

Entrance Fee: Free (40 THB if you wish to go up the elevator)

Location: 7km northwest of Chiang Rai city centre. Here is the Google Maps location.

Wat Huay Pla Kang Chiang Rai Goddess of Mercy buddha temple

Wat Huay Pla Kang Temple is another truly impressive temple in Chiang Rai, and is famous for its huge statue of the Goddess of Mercy (Guan Yin), which stands at 23 stories high.

You can reach the top of the statue by an elevator and look out onto the panoramic views all around.

Wat Huay Pla Kang Chiang Rai Goddess of Mercy buddha temple

Wat Huay Pla Kang Temple represents compassion and mercy, qualities associated with Guan Yin.

Wat Huay Pla Kang Chiang Rai Goddess of Mercy buddha temple

The stairs leading up to the Goddess of Mercy are equally stunning and make for fantastic photos, with incredibly detailed mythological white dragon-like naga serpents leading all the way up the stairs.

Wat Huay Pla Kang Chiang Rai Goddess of Mercy buddha temple

The complex actually has three temples onsite, including a really unique 9-tiered colourful pagoda and a temple that looks a lot like a smaller version of The White Temple. All the temples are located next to each other so they are very easy to visit.

Wat Huay Pla Kang Chiang Rai Goddess of Mercy buddha temple

This is one of the quieter temples to visit as many of the guided tours don’t actually stop at this temple, despite it being so beautiful. Sunrise and sunset are a lovely time to visit, and the temples are lit up beautifully at night.

Wat Huay Pla Kang Chiang Rai Goddess of Mercy buddha temple

If you want to go on a guided tour and ensure you visit all three of the above temples, here are two good tours you can book on:

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Summary

Chiang Rai’s unique artistic temples attract visitors from all over the world due to their blend of historical significance with architectural beauty.

If you only have a short amount of time in Chiang Rai, visiting these three temples will ensure you get to see the most impressive and unique temples in the city.