The White Temple & Golden Triangle

This was my last day in the North of Thailand and in advance I had decided that I’d participate in a full days trip which would take in The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle, which is where the countries of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos all meet, split by the mighty Mekong and Ruak rivers which converge here.

As with all my other trips in this area I booked with Travel Hub Chiang Mai.  A really nice and professional company.

Starting early in the morning (and I mean wayyy too early!) we got picked up in the bus and started driving North.  First stop was at The White Temple, Chiang Rai.  This is a spectacular sight (even the toilet block is magnificent – but sadly not yet opened for us!).

After a short while here it was back in the bus to head up to The Golden Triangle.  We experienced some pretty stormy weather on the way up and I lost count of the times we aquaplaned.  We had a schedule to keep to!  My seat belt was firmly fastened I tell you!  The Golden Triangle was interesting to see (despite the downpour) and it was fascinating hearing about the history of opium in the area.

The trip included a visit to Don Sao island, which technically is in Laos.  On arrival we were given a free shot of ‘Cobra Whiskey’.  This is supposed to help men with sexual ailments and to ‘make you strong’.  I got given two shots – I wonder if I looked like I might need help in that department?

We then headed up to Wat Phra That Doi Wao, which is a temple overlooking the town of Mae Sai, an official border point into Myanmar.  The views were pretty great and we had some lovely golden afternoon light making it really special.  I was so engrossed taking photos that I nearly missed our bus leaving!

On the way back we stopped in a hill village (just like the previous day).  Again a bit too touristy for me, but then again this I think is what you should expect and I certainly didn’t begrudge our time there.

We got back into Chiang Mai mid-evening.  Most of the day seemed to be spent travelling, yet it was completely worth it to see such an interesting part of the country.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

The next day however … I’d be heading off down to Phuket!


Chiang Mai

Bangkok was a lot of fun, but after 4 nights I was ready to get moving.  Big cities are an adventure (Bangkok especially) but I’m a country boy at heart and already I needed some space.  Next up was a flight to Chiang Mai (for a ridiculously cheap price) where I was set to spend 3 nights and then head down to Phuket.

One thing I’m sure now, with the benefit of hindsight is that 3 nights wasn’t nearly enough.  Chiang Mai is one cool city.

I arrived just as evening hit.  So, I grabbed my tripod to see what I could find.  Aiming for the city centre and stepping out the hotels front door I immediately took the wrong direction and walked out of town.  This wasn’t all bad though and fairly quickly realising my mistake I used the opportunity to grab some long exposures of the traffic. After that it was a quick stop for food and a beer and then a good nights sleep – the next two days would be busy.

I woke up early (erm … maybe 9am?!) with the intention of spending the morning exploring as many of the temples I could find.  Chiang Mai is absolutely littered with beautiful temples – I think it would be possible to spend days seeing them all.  From my hotel I walked down to Wat Phra Singh (with a few pancake and coffee stops – Chiang Mai is a goldmine for coffee shops!).  After this Wat I had plans to head to Wat Chedi Luang, which looked ace in the guides I’d read.  I had spent a bit too long at Wat Phra Singh though and needed to be back to my hotel for the afternoons tour.  On my way back I was able to pop in and see Wat Mahawan and Wat Beppharam.  Both small and very beautiful.  And handily located almost on my hotels doorstep!

The afternoon tour was a group one I’d booked with Travel Hub Chiang Mai which would take me up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – a famous, beautiful Wat overlooking the city.

On the way we called in at Hmong Hill Village.  It was a bit of a tourist trap (at least the part of it I saw) selling a lot of the typical fare you’d find all over, but it was nice to be up out of the city and there was a pretty waterfall garden I could explore.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep was really busy, but incredibly beautiful.  we got there as the light turned golden and it was a wonderful sight to behold.  The view over the city and beyond was stunning.

Returning after dark I headed out to the Night Bazaar, which handily was only a short walk from the hotel.  My bartering skills were pretty terrible, but at least I now have a nice leather passport holder!  I also managed to find a bit of a red light area with lots of bars and a boxing stadium.  Which was nice. I hung about a short while and watched a few minutes of Muay Thai – but dashed off before being dragged into a bar.  As you’ll later see, the following day was going to be a bit of a lang haul and I needed an early night.

It’s worth me mentioning that I stayed at The Small Hotel – I’d really recommend it.  Walking distance to everything, very close to the night market.  Clean and super friendly staff.

For now, here’s night 1 and day 2 of my Chiang Mai photos.  Sorry for the lengthy post and vast number of pictures.  This I think is probably the post with the largest content from my trip!