Our first day in Chiang Mai we only really had the afternoon so this was spent exploring the area around our hotel and taking in our surroundings. We were right next to the cutest market which really came to life at night time, so our first evening was spent perusing the many stalls filled with the usual touristy nick nacks I just can’t get enough of.
For our first full day we had booked a tour to take us to Wat rong Khun, more commonly known as the White Temple, in Chiang Rai. It meant an early start and a long day spent travelling to Chiang Rai but I definitely feel it was worth it. The temple was absolutely stunning and was an interesting alternative to the traditional Thai temples found all around the country.
The temple itself was designed and constructed by local artist Ajarn Chalermchai Kositpipat who decided to rebuild the original Wat Rong Khun. He self funded the project with the help of donations and the works to the temple are still on going, due to the artist’s need for perfection. The temple was designed to be white to represent the purity of Buddha while the glass and mirrored accents represent Buddha’s Dhamma (the truth taught by Buddha) and wisdom.
After visiting the White Temple we stopped by the contrasting Black House not too far away. Interestingly it was Kositpipat’s former teacher, who is now considered a Thai National artist, designed the Baan Dam. Thawan Duchanee created nearly forty monuments that make up the Baan Dam and feature a collection of taxidermy, animal bones and skins and furniture created using various exotic animals.
As I am vegan this was an interesting experience, to say the least, but I can appreciate the artistic statement behind it. Duchanee aims to represent the darkeness of humanity through his work and unlike the White Temple, the Black House has no religious meaning.
Both of these attractions have free admission and I would definitely advise visiting both. The White Temple is a must and is one of the main tourist attractions in the area but what I liked about the Black House was how it was a slightly less visited attraction making it more serene, albeit slightly eerie, to wander around.
For our final full day in Chiang Mai we had one of the most incredible experiences you can have in Thailand, we visited an elephant sanctuary! As I have mentioned I am vegan so when I say sanctuary I mean sanctuary. All of the elephants we visited had been rescued from various troubled pasts and there was absolutely no riding involved. There are so many positive things I have to say about this experience so I have decided to dedicate an entire post to our visit, so watch out for my next post on Monday to find out more about our trip.
We ended our last amazing day by visiting Catmosphere, a cat café in Chiang Mai. I was so excited to go as I am a huge cat lover although I think my friend Amy was less enthusiastic, being extremely allergic! We only popped in for a quick cup of tea but I absolutely loved it and found the space theme and character description for each cat hilarious. I would recommend a quick visit if you’re a cat lover but wouldn’t advise taking a friend with allergies, whoops.