As mentioned in yesterday’s post, one of the main things I wanted to do in Chiang Rai was visit the White Temple. I’d seen photos of it and thought it looked amazing, but no photos can do justice to how magical it looks in real life, especially against bright blue skies. We’d seen loads of different tours that included the White Temple advertised around Chiang Rai, and one of the places Marcus really wanted to visit was the Monkey Caves so we made sure to pick one that included both of these. We booked a group minibus tour for 900 Baht each (£18) including a buffet lunch. There was a more expensive private car option available, but there ended up being just one other girl in our tour so it was pretty much private anyway!
We booked with a company called So Good travel who ironically weren’t so good! I won’t go into detail ranting about them, but we booked this tour and the slow boat to Laos with this company and neither of which were particularly great experiences. We thoroughly enjoyed all the sights we saw on this tour, just not the hungover minibus driver we were given (a bit dangerous on the crazy Thai roads!) who changed our schedule around to suit him.
First stop of the day was the White Temple, it was already busy even though we arrived around 9am. It was absolutely stunning and by far the prettiest temple I’ve seen, it’s like Disneyland or something, it just doesn’t seem real! You’re not allowed to take photos inside the temple but the inside is actually like Disneyland, with different Disney characters worked into intricate paintings covering the inside walls. The walls inside are cracked in places from an earthquake that happened in May 2014. Next up was the Black Temple, also know as the Black House which was created by a Thai artist and has not long been open to the public. It was very different, it has a strong theme of death with lots of animal remains around the place.
We were then driven to the Hill Tribes where we could pay an optional 300 Baht to go in and visit the tribes which we did. It was interesting, but not something I’d do again. It was ok until one of the guys called some of the ladies over to do a tribal song/ dance thing which no one seemed like they wanted to do, then they collected money from people watching. I get that it’s a tourist attraction it just felt a bit weird, like the place should be the attraction but not the people. The money we pay to get in goes towards maintaining the way they live, but I wonder if it wasn’t a tourist attraction if they would have integrated into a more ‘normal’ way of life?
Next up was the Monkey Caves, although the monkeys aren’t actually inside the caves but all around the bottom of them. I’d read about monkeys going up to people and grabbing their cameras/ glasses etc but luckily this didn’t happen to us! The baby monkeys were super cute. The caves were up a ridiculous amount of steep steps, a good old thigh work out! Inside the caves there was a buddha statue where we both lit a candle. It was both pretty and spooky inside the caves with bats flying around.
The final stop of the day was the Golden Triangle which is the meeting point of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. This was our first glimpse of the Mekong River and it was stunning, so vast and peaceful.
I think day trips like this are a great way to see a bunch of different attractions for a good price, but the days are pretty intense and tiring. If you’re planning on doing lots of sightseeing on your trip I’d recommend leaving a couple of more relaxed days between days like this depending on how much time you have to play with.