I got to the bus station in Chiang Mai before 9AM to get a bus to Chiang Rai. I hadn’t purchased a ticket in advance, and wasn’t able to get onto a bus until 11AM. The bus got into Chiang Rai around 1PM. I wandered around the bus station to find a hostel, which I was able to do relatively quickly. In Chiang Rai all I wanted to do was see the White Temple, Black House, and get my travel to Luang Prabang, Laos sorted out. If I could do all of this in the afternoon I’d only spend 1 day in Chiang Mai.
Overall I didn’t love Chiang Rai. There didn’t seem to be much to do, and it was more expensive than Chiang Mai. I really don’t see any reason why I’d need to go back, unless I was just passing through and needed somewhere to sleep for the night.
The Black House
I knew the Black House closed first, so I got on a tuk tuk there right after I found some food. I’d heard mixed reviews about the Black House prior to my arrival in Chiang Mai. Most people who had seen it recommend I go, but that it was a really weird, twisted place. I was told the Black House was created by an artist to symbolize the darkness and tragedy in the world. I don’t have a lot to say about it, I’ll let the pictures below speak for themselves. What I will say is it’s beautifully put together, if you can appreciate that sort of thing. I couldn’t decide if I thought the whole thing was disrespectful or not, but I’m not an artist and in general truly appreciating these kinds of exhibits goes right over my head.
The White Temple
After checking out the Black House I got dropped off at the bus station to take a bus to the White Temple. The buses were really small, and leg room was non-existent. They drove with the doors open and seemed to stop any time we drove past someone to see if they wanted a ride.
When we made it to the White Temple it was too late to walk through, but that meant you had a better view (no tourists in the way) of the whole thing. The temple had suffered some damage from an earthquake earlier this year, but was quite pretty. I did find some of the statues questionable, there was a Predator coming out of the ground and a Batman carving. Also, all the buildings are white except for the bathroom, which is gold.
After struggling to find any decent (cheap) food around lunchtime I was happy to see the night market had all sorts of options. There were a number of stalls selling different goods, but the food area is where most people were. Since I was leaving Thailand I decided to have khao soi one last time. It didn’t disappoint. I also got a banana-nutella pancake on my way out, and those never let me down.
Chiang Rai was a small city, so I knew finding a place to run would be a struggle. My plan, which ended up working out was to run from my hostel to the main road, and just do an out and back. It wasn’t a scenic, or particularly interesting run, but it got my legs moving which was great given the journey I had ahead of me to Luang Prabang.
HERE is my Garmin file for that run.
I saw what I wanted to in Chiang Rai, and got my way to Luang Prabang the next day sorted, so I’d call it a successful stop.