Wat Rong Khun
Wat Rong Khun is a modern temple built since 1998 by famous thai artist " Master Chalermchai Kositpipat" , he desires to build a temple as a heaven – a touchable paradise on earth for human. The white color is chosen to represent the Lord Buddha’s immaculation. White glass means the wisdom of the Lord Buddha that shines out all over the earth and the universe. The bridge replaces walking across reincarnation to Bhudhabhumi. Before going up to the small half-circle bridge which means human’s earth and the bigger one with the fangs is the evil’s mouth or Rahu (the demon who swallows the sun and the moon) that means inner defilements representing hell or suffering. Whoever shall see the Lord Buddha in Bhudhabhumi shall have to leave their desires and cravings into the mouth of the evil so as to clear and clean up their mind. After that, they shall walk up along the bridge surrounded by 16 Omgun Asura, 8 for each side which implies for 16 defilements. Upon reaching the middle of the bridge which means Mount Meru where deities reside. Down below is the pond which means Sidantara Ocean with 6 tiers of heaven represented by 16 celestial lotuses around the temple. Four biggest lotuses are located beside the temple at the way up which means the 4 Ariyachao Archway consisting of Phra Sodabhan, Phra Sakitakamee, Phra Nagamee and Phra Arahant whom we should pay respect before getting up the half-circle staircase. The staircase contains 3 steps, each implies for Anijjung (impermanent), Tukhang (suffering) and Anatta (non-self) and leading to the land of 4 immaterial Brahma represented by 4 celestial lotuses and 4 gates. The last gate is a triangle glass means emptiness (extrication), then stepping over the doorsill to Bhudhabhumi.
The Golden Triangle
There are so many highlights of the trip to the North but this ranks up near the top of the marvels for me. The term applies to the opium growing region covering northern Thailand, eastern Burma and western Laos. For me just seeing all these countries together in such a beautiful river vally was really what it was about.
Perhaps because this is only my second trip to Asia but whatever the reason . looking down and seeing the borders of Thailand , Burma and Laos meeting was breathtaking. It was a Wow !!! Look how far I made it !!!A definite , never to be forgotten experience. You can never truly capture the moment in a picture although , I tried my best ...
The apex of the triangle is thought to be the riverside village of Ban Sop Ruak . And for your picture opportunity there is an archway there where you can stand in the triangle.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Business Travel
Choosing a hilltribe tour
Tourism is one way that can help the villagers earn some extra income and help save their culture, ONLY IF it is done correctly. Most tour companies are profit oriented and they get the most out of these tours. They don't encourage tourists to buy things to help the local economy because they will take tourists to places where they can get commission. The homeowner of a village homestay receives about 50B/tourist/night, and this isn't shared among the whole village because the companies always take tourists to the same household. There is also little interaction with the villagers because of language and the guide usually explains everything (and his interpretation may not necessarily be correct because he is an outsider). There is no dialogue with the villagers. Once a village becomes too "developed", they simply drop it off their itineary & find another "unspoiled" village.
Please, if you are thinking of joining a hilltribe tour, do not just compare the price. Consider tour companies that can provide benefits to the community as a whole & give back to the villages through community developent work. In Chiang Rai, check out:
Mirror Art Group
Both are well-known NGOs in Thailand.
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- Hiking and Walking
street market of Chiang Rai
This is a large outdoor market along the roadside of downtown Chiang Rai, with vendors selling fruits, vegetables and cooked food. The vendors actually occupy part of the road starting in the afternoon and continue on until early evening.
This is a good place to get fresh fruits, some are ready-to-eat such as pre-packaged peeled pomelo. In the early evening, you'll find all kinds of cooked dishes (20-30B). Order what you like, but they come in a plastic bag though, the usual way of carrying food and drinks in Thailand. So it's great if you have plates and utensils. There are also packaged sticky rice. Two kinds are available: white or red/purple. I like the red/purple ones. The packaged rice costs only 5B! There are also desserts available at 10B. This can be an alternative of the food court at the night market.
Don't go too late if you want to get cooked food. Many vendors are gone as soon as they run out the food. Plus the food is fresher the earlier you buy them.
- Food and Dining
Hike to Khun Korn Nature Park
This was a chance to work off some of that fabulous Thai food . To get to the waterfall we hiked through a majestic forest park . It's a peaceful Nature park with lots of spectacular bamboo trees and sounds of birds and insects. It's about a 40 minute trek to the Falls ( mostly uphill) You will here the falls long before you hear it ...oh and don't be alarmed by the screams...that would be hikers who decided to have a dip in the cool water!!
- National/State Park
Chiang Rai night market
This night market is very small compare to the ones in Chiang Mai. There are two stages with nightly performance, one at the food court, and the other one is located in a newer roofed shopping complex beside the outdoor night market area. You'll find typical tourist souvenir, as well as clothing that is more popular with the locals. Some stalls are run by the hilltribe groups.
There are varieties of food at the food court. The price at the food court is slightly more expensive than dining at the local restaurants or at the street market. But the food court is usually packed over the weekends, with both locals and foreigners.
From Burma but living in Thailand are the Karon tribe , commonly known as the Long neck people . They are for me, unforgetable. I marveled at the weight of the brass rings they where around thir necks. At the age of seven the little girls are given their first rings. It is startling at first when you see them , but quickly you realize how proud of their dress they are.
The neck-ring is not made of an accumulation of rings through the years, but of a brass spiral which is changed for a longer one when the child grows. It does not lengthen the neck, but pushes down the ribs
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Women's Travel
PDA Hilltribe Museum
The Hilltribe Museum is a great place to learn about the hilltribe culture and the socio-cultural problems that they are facing now. I highly recommend to visit this museum (or a similar museum in Chiang Mai) if you are planning to visit any hilltribe villages, whether it is by trekking or by tour bus. PDA, the non-governmental organization (NGO) that runs the museum, is a well-known Thai NGO that does community development work in rural areas.
They have displays of their tools, clothing, miniature houses, and very detailed information about their everyday lives, culture and the old days of opium.
PDA also run tours of various lengths in the area, with benefits going back to the local communities. This is very important as the majority of for-profit tour companies don't care much about the local people. The villages usually receive more negative cultural and social effects than positive ones.
In the photo with the pipes, the ones on the left are actually tobacco pipes, while the ones on the right are opium pipes.
Admission (Nov 2006): 50 B
- Museum Visits
Feeding the elephants
When we returned safely from our ride, to the stopping place in the village.The elephants were treated to a snack pack . It contained corn , bananas and sugar cane ( which seemed to be their favorite). They were so cute . They knew what was in store and waited patiently for us to buy their treat and feed it to them . They take it from your hand with their trunk . They were trained to pass the sugar cane to their owner ( they were given in limited amounts ...who wants a fat elephant . I guess)
- Family Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
DOI TUNG - SWITZERLAND OF THAILAND
We visiited the Royal Villa as part of our day tour out of Chiang Rai . It's a beautiful mountain top location and you could imagine what a haven it was for the Royal's to escape the summer heat and smog of Bangkok.
The strange thing about the griunds is it is planted with so many flowers typical of Switzerland. I thought it a shame , even though the are beautiful....I love the Asian exoctic flowers and plants found throughout Thailand. There were orchids there too . Lots of them but so many geraniums!!
A bronze statue entitled “Continuity” is the centrepiece of the landscaped gardens. It depicts a group of children supporting each other in a human pyramid formation as one of them climbs towards the sky. A tribute to The Princess's efforts to improve the lives of the people of Thailand.
The Royal Princess Mother resided here from 1987 to 1995, it served base from which Her Royal Highness supervised the reforestation of the project area and other development priorities. The Doi Tung Royal Villa thus came to symbolise her personal commitment and dedication to improving the lives and well-being of her subjects
- Castles and Palaces
Life on the mountain
Each hilltribe has its own unique culture, language, clothing and traditions. Their population is close to a million, in a country that has over 60 million people. Most live in the north. Many villages are very modern, people own motobikes, their houses have electricity (some are powered by solar panels provided by the govt) & modern toilet. Traditional clothing is worn ONLY during festivals. They are definitely not primitive, as you may see in some ads.
Life is tough because they are no longer subsistance-based because of the ban on shifting cultivation, a technique that can be beneficial in some cases but the govt has been ignoring the facts from studies. The children learn only Thai in school, and they don't learn about their own culture. Many teenagers feel ashamed of their own culture and don't like to learn anything about them becuase the Thais think that they are "backward". Many leave home for work in the cities. Some are being lured into the sex industry. There are still many who have yet to receive citizenship, even though they were born in the country. Without citizenship, they can't get proper education and health care, and are being paid lower wages by employers.
If you are visiting a hilltribe village, contribute to the local economy by buying their weavings and locally made products. Try to buy from different individuals so the benefits can be spread out. But do NOT give money directly to children. It only encourages them to beg.
- Arts and Culture
Maekok River Trip with Longtail boat
The Maekok River is a way to get a little feel for the land and for the nature around here.
From the Longtail boats that start from Chiang Rai every morning (around 9 o´clock) you can see the people living at the River and the landscape - sometimes hilly, sometimes more flat.
The Longtail boats are exactly that: long. They don´t go very deep into the water, which maybe is good, because when we were here (Feb 2005) the water level of the Mekok was very low.
We even had to get out at one place and walk a little, because of that.
At the river are also located some of the hilltribes (Akha, mostly), some of them offer elephant rides (only in the morning): see next tip.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Sailing and Boating
- Adventure Travel
The Emerald Buddha
The Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew in Chiang Rai is actually a replica. It is housed at the back of the temple complex.
It was originally encasted in stucco and placed in a pagoda in Chiang Rai, but a lightning bolt revealed the jade Buddha in 1434. After a couple of years, it was moved to Lampang, Chiang Mai, Laos, and eventually to Bangkok in 1778. The real one is currently situated in Wat Phra Kaew on the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
In the pools next to where the Emerald Buddha is housed, there are two ponds with a giant turtle, many smaller ones and fish. I happened to arrive at feeding time and that huge turtle is like 5 times larger than the regular ones. See the photo.
The Lanna style stupa behind the main hall is historical - it's over 600 years old.
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
A unique place - Scorpion Temple
Wat Phra That Pha Ngao is a 10th century temple situated on the hilltop south of Chiang Saen, offering exhilarating views of the Mekong River, Laos and surrounding countryside. It is well known for its shiny white marbled chedi and the gigantic scorpion sculpture .
There are paintings of historical and mythical scenes all round the inner courtyard between the 4 chapels that surround the central golden stuppa.
Our views of Laos from here were breathtaking . It's aplace you could just rest and take some time to absorb all the wonders you've seen so far on your journey!
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
King Mengrai Statue
A bronze statue of the founder of the Lanna Kingdom is situated at the starting point of Highway 110, which leads to Mae Chan, Chiang Saen and Mae Sai.
Many tourists visit this monument to pay their respects to the ancient king and to have photos taken as souvenirs.
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