We left Bangkok at 6am got to our bus early enough was a 10 minute drive. Taxi driver brought us right there and we finally figured out how to get our ticket. We got on the bus and it was a 9 hour journey. It was great though, they brought us some food/water/juice throughout the journey. I was able to sleep on this one and we had good seats with leg room. No one in front of us. Was nice to finally see some trees instead of constant city and random crap shack. We got into Chiang mai around 5pm and headed straight to our hostel. Banil’Ah. Our welcome was great, with water and banana in hand but we weren’t too hungry, we had spaced out our snacks on the bus. She was very informative and handed us maps, explaining the area and giving great recommendations. Found out about the motorbikes, waterfalls, temples, area nearby and monkchat. She almost gave us too much info. I just wanted to pack it in and relax for the night. I ended up getting some local pad thai.
Got up early and rented a motor bike for a couple days. 250 baht per day plus gas. It was much cheaper than Tuk Tuk’ing everywhere. I wanted to go to the nearby park and temples. First, had to book the bus for the next day into Chiang Rai which cost 288 baht. Decided to do this instead of the tour because I had read bad reviews on the tour and how it was a tourist trap. Chose to rent a motorbike in Chiang Rai and do it independantly. After booking the bus, went by Chiang Mai zoo and decided to stop in. It was 150 baht for the entrance, so about 6 dollars, very cheap. The zoo was cool but got very exhausted, the zoo layout wasn’t too good or efficient. Got really close to an elephant and giraffes, we were able to touch them which was pretty different.
They also had the biggest collection of turtles I’ve seen in my entire life. I finally kind of got turtled out but it was still so cool. They had a lion, a tiger, a jaguar and a lot of cool birds. It was a nice easy way to kill an afternoon. After getting fed up at the zoo we went for a nice stroll way outside of town to Ban a waterfall which is a local waterfall about 30 minutes out of town. We had a little supper snack there I got some good BBQ chicken and ate it on a rock in the rapids. Didn’t stay for long and headed back into Chiang Mai for the night where we took it easy in preparation for the next day. The departure was at 6:00am.
Left at 6 am for Chiang Rai on a bus. It was comfy and spacious and on time. I rushed before getting on the bus to buy my return the ticket for that night so we didn’t stay stuck in Chiang Rai for the night. The way there was scenic, reminded me of canada with the hills and tons of trees, there was a bunch of cabins on the way there within the lush greens. Once we got to Chiang rai, we looked for a motorbike rental place. We looked into renting a tuk tuk and it would have cost us 1000 Baht for the day which isn’t too bad but a motorbike costs us way less and we are more in control of our schedule. Kept looking and found a motorbike rental place for 200 baht for the day. Our first stop was going to be the temple in which the first known record of the jade Buddha was located. It took us a little while to find it but once we did we went inside and looked at the temples, pagodas and they had a little museum showing different artifacts and it said that the jade Buddha currently in Chiang Rai was a gift from Canada. It’s nice to see that we are represented.
There was also a little page explaining Buddhism, so I picked it up and read it. It basically said that Buddha isn’t a god, but rather a state of mind of tranquility and peace, which is why he’s portrayed as a woman body shape sometimes, with lipstick or his nails done. Being a Buddha is something anyone can achieve through greater levels of enlightenment. There was a lot of Buddhist boys around here as well and they were cleaning the Buddha images around the temple and looking at the turtles and catfish. This temple had the biggest amount of turtles I had ever seen and giant catfish about 3-4 feet long. The fish would come up and gulp for air and all you could do is get a glimpse of them sometimes. The turtles however were everywhere it was so cool. There were maybe 4-5 different kinds of turtles as well, including a soft-shell fat turtle that looked like it had melted there.
After a good amount of time spent here, we left for the 9 tier temple. It was 20 minutes outside of town and we really got to see the Chiang Rai country side which was cool. Was able to spot a giant white Buddha that was currently under construction so automatically assumed the 9 tier temple was here. We had to go through some back roads to get there but once we got closer we were able to see the temple, it looked awesome. There was also another temple that they were building next to this one. It resembled the white temple and they were just building it along with the white Buddha statue. The 9 tier temple was a new temple with AC inside and a very modern look, like a hotel kind of. We were the only white people there. It was nice to be at an actual place of worship and not some tourist attraction. There are 9 levels to this temple and each floor gets smaller and smaller and has a statue in it, either of Buddha or some monk that’s achieved nirvana I believe. We spent a good amount of time here before we decided to head off to the real white temple.
It was about a 45 minute ride on the high way which was like a Canadian high way except you could pull U-turns in the middle of the islands to switch directions. We spotted the temple just a bit off the highway and pulled in to check it out. It was unbelievable, the amount of detail and quantity of it was unbelievable. The entrance is a bunch of hands raising from what seems to be the river Styx. The temple itself had some cool pictures inside of modern things like cat memes, star wars, marvel, ninja turtles, DC and Sci-fi things. But everything else was so expertly crafted.
We headed back to Chiang Mai for bed after a nice perfect day in Chiang Rai.
Stay awesome and follow your dreams!