Chiang Rai – on my way to Laos

Chiang Rai – on my way to Laos

I thought I will go back to Chiang Mai when I left it to visit Pai, but it never happened. I decided to travel directly to Chiang Rai. My laziness resulted in choosing the minivan transfer, and this way of traveling led to a huge emotional outburst at the end if the day – to put it nicely.

I thought it is easier to buy a direct transfer, I don’t need to go back to Chiang Mai, wait at the bus station, buy another ticket so basically the full day is gone. It was not the cheapest option, but just a bit more expensive than buying the minibus tickets myself. Tell me how many times do I have to do stupid things to learn, that this way of traveling is not good for me? It seems comfortable but I don’t enjoy it at all.

What was wrong? Just to start with, the duration of the travel was way more than the promised 5 hours. Luckily I was sitting in the front from Pai to Chiang Mai, I could see the road so I did not get motion sick. But actually I didn’t worry much about it. It made me relaxed to know, that even if we drive off the road in one of the crazy curves with the speed we went, it still will be easy to identify the corps frozen by the airco. In the meanwhile I figured, that the driver receives instructions from someone via the radio on when to overtake the cars in the curves where you can’t see the traffic. There must be a satellite following us. At least the voice came always in time in an urging tone, and the bus started the maneuver. Isn’t that suspicious?

At the Chiang Mai ring we changed minibus. I had to get into a minivan, where there was no more free space, as every ‘free spot’ was occupied by suitcases. Who travels here with giant suitcases anyway? Luckily the driver also noticed it, and needed not more than 20 minutes to rearrange the pile of bags, but still two giants travelled with us between the seats and the sliding door. The retired French looked at me as if I was a serial killer when I occupied the freed up seat – but hey, I travel with only a tiny backpack!

After an hour – I was on the road for 5 hours at this point – we stopped for a lunch break. You know the places where only tourists stop to east something horribly expensive and super bad quality? Yep, this was one if those. The 40 minutes break turned out to be an hour. And for sure they asked me why I do not order anything, but I didn’t plan to ruin the 3,5 months long amazing culinary experience here. So I just ate my bananas that I brought for the travel and slowly lost patience.

Then we stopped at the White Temple, that seemed compensate the inconvenience, as I planned to visit it in the afternoon, and my late arrival kind of disabled this plan. So I was truly happy for a minute, until the driver announced that we spend 20 minutes here, and by the way we park 5 minutes from the temple. And I was still not cursing, just ran to see this absurd attraction packed with thousands of tourists.

The architect – often mentioned as the thai Gaudi – created a unique temple. From the distance it looks beautiful, delicate and radiant. You only realize when you get closer, that the details are not carved from white stone, but the whole building it painted white and has millions of tiny mosaics out of mirror. There are many people, but at least as many thais as foreigners. Chiang Rai White temple - bridge - pinterjuco.huThere’s an entrance fee for entering the temple (just for foreigners). There are hands reaching out of the ground in front if the bridge leading to the temple symbolizing desires, and we get purified when crossing the bridge (while they urge us via loudspeakers to move and not to stop).

Inside you can’t see the classical buddha paintings, instead on a smaller area behind the entrance you find a weird mix of western pop culture symbols: Spiderman, transformers, angry bird, Neo from Matrix, minions, the New York twin towers in flames and so on. Really weird. And I just ran back to the bus.Chiang Rai White Temple garden -

Chiang Rai is another 13 km from here. Cool. But then I realized, that this bus was part if an organized trip for a group heading to Lais, and the agency just sold the 3 free seats to Chiang Rai, but the bus actually never goes into Chiang Rai. It stopped at a McDonald’s close to the old airport having a Chiang Rai sign on it to show to the unsatisfied customers like me. The center is 4 kms away, a hundred baht by tuktuk. I am not paying this, just because of the principle. The combination of local buses from Pai would’ve taken me to the center of town for half a price, leaving me inky 200 meters to walk. At this point I had enough. Don’t get me wrong, nothing happened that is not normal by thai standards. But I still had to shout a bit in the air getting rid of half of my frustration, and started my walk to get rid of the rest. Well, walking would’ve been nice, but I am limping lately.

Oops, did I tell you that I am limping? It started two weeks ago, but I don’t know what happened. I have no visible injuries, I can move my toes and my foot without issues, but when I out weight on my left foot, it hurts a lit. I noticed, that it is better when I wear shoes, but walking barefoot or wearing flip flops is really bad. Does tenosynovitis exists in the foot? Or was I just too crazy in the sand on the beach? Or did I break a small bone in my foot? No clue. But of course I didn’t see the doctor, and I have not much rest either – exactly what I advise not to do.

Chiang Rai is a small, sleepy town, even the night market is just plain. I figure most of the people come to see the 3 special temples, the white, the blue and the black, or if they plan traveling on to the Golden Triangle or to Laos.

I felt I had one thing to do here: sleeping and doing nothing, then continue my trip to Chiang Khong, to the last stop before Laos. With public transportation. So that is exactly what I did.


  • Minivan from Pai to Chiang Rai: 500 THB
  • Entrance fee to White temple: 50 THB