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The ONLY Guide You’ll Need When Visiting the Epic Wat Huay Pla Kang

The ONLY Guide You’ll Need When Visiting the Epic Wat Huay Pla Kang! 

Did you know that Chiang Rai’s giant Buddha at Wat Huay Pla Kang isn’t actually a Buddha? Yep! That massive white statue you’ll see while ascending the temple is that of Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. 

Well, we were surprised too! But that isn’t the only interesting aspect at Wat Huay Pla Kang, and we’re here to share with you everything you need to know before visiting this epic temple. 

Things to Know

Location: 553 หมู่ที่ 3 Tambon Mae Yao, Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai 57100, Thailand

Operating Hours: Daily, 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. 

Contact Number: +66 53 150 274


Admission Cost:  Free

Currency: Thai Baht
(Check the current exchange rate)

Language: Thai (Central Thai)

Follow Temple Etiquette: It’s really about giving proper respect. That means wearing the right clothes (no below-knee length shorts for women, for instance), not touching the statues, and not stealing scenes. 

Best Time to Visit Wat Huay Pla Kang

It’s best to visit Wat Huay Pla Kang from October to February because Chiang Rai experiences cooler and less humid weather during these months. That means you can enjoy the temple’s stunning architecture under the clear blue skies.

Also, Wat Huay Pla Kang is a hilltop temple, so you’ll enjoy it better in the afternoon. This way, you can see the beautiful sunset view from the ninth floor of its round pagoda.

The temple is even more impressive at night once its lights are shining under the night sky. So, you may want to wait a little longer or schedule your time there to include the evenings. 

How to Get to Wat Huay Pla Kang from Chiang Rai City Centre

Via scooter/rental car: This is a recommended option. You can rent one and arrive at the temple in less than 30 minutes as it’s just 8 km away from the clock tower. 

A rental car or motorbike is perfect if traveling to Wat Huay Pla Kang from Chiang Rai City Centre or anywhere within Chiang Rai or its neighboring provinces like Chiang Mai, Lampang, and Mae Hong Son.

Via Private Taxi: Hiring a private taxi is more expensive, but it’s also a convenient way to get to Wat Huay Pla Kang from Chiang Rai City Centre or from anywhere within Chiang Rai and its nearby provinces. 

Just know that taxi drivers charge an extra hourly rate after 8 hours of driving, so it’s best to do this with a solid travel plan.

Via Day Tour: Booking a day tour of Wat Huay Pla Kang is also a convenient option. Just note that you’re not free to do as many things during the tour since you have to follow a strict schedule and travel plan.

Day tours to Wat Huay Pla Kang are available through travel agencies like GetYourGuide, Klook, and Olsen Tours.

Via Tuk-tuk: Any point from Chiang Rai’s city center, riding a tuk-tuk is a fun way to get to Wat Huay Pla Kang. This open-air public vehicle is great because you can enjoy sightseeing along the way while also feeling the wind on your face.

Just know that tuk-tuks charge the same rate as public taxis even though they don’t use a meter. Also, remember to negotiate the price beforehand so you don’t have to pay an absurd amount.

What to See and Do in Wat Huay Pla Kang

Admire the stunning architecture inside the temple complex

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Wat Huay Pla Kang is arguably one of Thailand’s most beautiful newly built temple complexes. This temple was constructed in 2005 and features a distinct Chinese-Lanna architectural style.

That means the Lanna-style structures within this temple complex are usually adorned with Chinese-style motifs. Expect to see temple walls, roofs, and staircases with Naga and oriental dragon carvings or sculptures.

But that’s not all—Wat Huay Pla Kang is most notable for its plaster and cement-made structures, which is why its giant Guanyin statue and large wihan (shrine hall) are ivory white. The only exception is the circular pyramid-esque pagoda with mostly gold and red accents.

Take a photo of Wat Huay Pla Kang’s notable structures

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Going to Wat Huay Pla Kang gives you a chance to capture some of the best-looking temple structures in Chiang Rai. The avid photographers on our staff say this is the perfect place to visit if your goal is to take stunning architectural photos.

Aside from its largest structures, there are also plenty of smaller ones within the temple grounds. That makes it perfect if you like full-on variety.

Here, you can photograph three sweeping staircases, Naga and dragon sculptures, Buddha images, sacred relics, wall carvings, and more. That’s why the temple attracts huge crowds of non-Buddhist visitors.

Marvel at the temple’s one-of-a-kind Guanyin statue

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The highlight of Wat Huay Pla Kang is its one-of-a-kind statue of Guanyin, also known as the Chinese Goddess of Mercy. This 90-meter Guayin Buddha is the largest in Thailand, and we think it’s worth checking out even if you’re a non-believer. 

Notice how prominent its feminine features are since it’s said to represent compassion, grace, and serenity. That’s why it’s popular among local worshippers who frequent the temple to pay their respects and pray for guidance during times of uncertainty.

It’s also depicted through the Guayin Buddha’s varada mudra gesture. This sacred hand gesture features a raised left hand with the arm hanging at the side of the body, forward-facing open palms, and extended fingers.

See numerous artworks inside the Goddess of Mercy statue

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A visit to Wat Huay Pla Kang isn’t complete without seeing the numerous artworks inside its famous Goddess of Mercy statue. The 90-meter statue has 25 floors, so there are a lot of wall sculptures and mini statues of trees, mythical creatures, and Guayin.

This includes intricate ivory-white sculptures of the phoenix, oriental dragons, and the Thousand-armed Guanyin. The latter in particular, is a must-see because it’s a unique form of the goddess granted by the Amitabha Buddha.

It’s said that Amitabha Buddha gave Guayin a thousand arms after she complained of humanity’s neverending suffering despite her working hard to help them. She was also given eleven heads to hear humanity’s pleas better, but it’s not depicted here.

Pig out at the food stalls at the temple’s entrance

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Wat Huay Pla Kang is mostly known for its unique and elegant architecture, but it’s also a great place to visit for food. In fact, our hardcore foodie staffers say the temple has some of the best bang-for-your-buck food options in Chiang Rai.

Here, you’ll find several food stalls selling food and drinks for only 20 baht per plate or order. Though the serving sizes aren’t impressive, the low prices mean you can order over five items without punching a hole in your wallet.

That makes it ideal if you enjoy trying out a variety of snacks and dishes while you’re on vacation. If you’re lucky, the temple might even have a truckload of fresh fruits which the head monk buys from local farmers to give away for free.

Look at the surrounding scenery through Guanyin’s eyes

The temple’s Guayin Buddha is more than just an architectural wonder and a museum-esque statue. It’s also a popular viewpoint because you can watch the breathtaking scenery surrounding the temple complex.

On its 25th floor, you can peek from Guayin’s eyes and the “dragon eye” on her forehead. you must purchase a 40-baht ticket to use the statue’s staircase or mechanical lift and reach this top floor.

This floor is also packed with ivory-white pillars and mini wall sculptures of oriental dragons and Guayin, there’s plenty to see here besides the outside view. The statue’s lift is only open until 5 p.m. so be sure to come here before sunset.

Ride the temple’s complimentary Hello Kitty shuttles

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One of the unique things about Wat Huay Pla Kang is its free on-site shuttles. The locals call them Hello Kitty shuttles or buses because of their vibrant pink color and the numerous cute stickers of their namesake.

These mini shuttle buses are available at the temple’s entrance and they can take you to the hilltop Guayin image. That makes it perfect for visitors who dislike or struggle to walk on a paved uphill road. 

Just know that these Hello Kitty shuttles are meant to help visitors get to the Goddess of Mercy more easily, so it’s not something you use to explore the temple complex. 

Climb the temple’s nine-story pagoda to see sacred statues and relics

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This unique pagoda, also known as Phop Chok Dhamma Chedi, is also a must-see when visiting Way Huay Pla Kang. Unlike the temple’s other structures, this 9-story round pyramid-like temple boasts a more prominent oriental motif.

Expect to see gold exterior decor, red roofs, and plenty of golden oriental dragons on each roof tier. Aside from that, this tall pagoda enshrines several important relics within its nine floors.

This includes a carved wooden Guayin image, a replica of Buddha Sothorn, and a Thousand-Arm Guanyin image. Moreover, the pagoda’s lower floors have numerous Buddhist murals and wall carvings.

Check out the Buddhist paintings and murals inside the temple’s ubosot

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If you enjoy looking at Buddhist paintings and murals, there’s Wat Huay Pla Kang’s phra ubosot. It’s a sacred place within the temple complex where religious rituals and ceremonies are held like the ordination of monks and reciting of the Prātimoksa.

The main feature of this phra ubosot is its Lanna-style architecture consisting of carved exterior walls with Naga images. Meanwhile, the ubosot’s interior walls, pillars, and ceiling contain carved depictions of Buddhist stories and mythology.

It also enshrines the temple’s principal Buddha image. This ivory-white statue has two distinct features: a flame-esque finial and a subduing mara posture—sitting cross-legged with an upside-down left and right hand on its respective lap and knee.

Participate in the temple’s religious activities and ceremonies

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Wat Huay Pla Kang is a quintessential Thai Buddhist temple. It’s a sacred place where monks practice and follow the teachings of the Lord Buddha.

That makes it a great place to experience or watch religious rituals and ceremonies monks perform. This typically consists of daily prayer services and merit-making ceremonies.

Of course, the temple also observes and celebrates important Buddhist holidays. Think Ashna Bucha Day, Makha Bucha Day, Visakha Bucha Day, and more.

End your tour by lighting an incense stick at the temple’s dragon ash bowl

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The best way to end your tour of Wat Huay Pla Kang is to light an incense stick at the temple’s dragon ash bowl. This ash bowl is at the base of the nine-story pagoda’s sweeping oriental dragon staircase.

It’s where many local visitors come to pay their respects or pray, so be sure to behave if you plan to go here. If you’re a non-Buddhist, you can also light an incense stick to pay homage and show appreciation to the temple before you leave.

If you’re feeling generous, we also recommend leaving a donation at the temple as they use the money to help feed orphans and pay for their education.

FAQs about Wat Huay Pla Kang

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