Just south of Chiang Rai, off Highway 1, is one of the most amazing and stunning temples you will ever see in Thailand. Officially called the Chapel of Wat Rong Khun, it is also referred to as “The White Temple”.
The temple is the idea of Mr. Chalermchai Kositpipat, one of Thailand’s most renowned artists, who wanted to build a temple all in white to signify the purity of Lord Buddha. The artist continues to puts his religious belief and desire to enrich Buddhism in Thailand into his contemporary art design. The construction of the White Temple is Khun Chalemchai’s master work, which he refers to as an offering to Lord Buddha and his beloved country.Construction of the temple commenced in 1998 and it is expected to take another 60 years to complete the nine buildings.
“My desire is to make this temple a national and world heritage. And I also want it to represent art and craft that flourished during the reign of His Majesty the King,” said Chalermchai, who has been training a cadre of 54 new-generation architects, painters and designers to ensure that work will continue uninterrupted even after he is gone. “
Unfortunately cameras are not allowed inside the main building. The murals covering the walls are absolutely stunning so be sure to take the time to study the images. Look closely in the eyes of an elephant and you will see George Bush in one eye and Osama bin Laden in the other, American and Japanese comic book heroes flying though the sky and the World Trade Centres being hit with the planes. All very much a testament to modern history.
Although not visible in the picture above, all the fish in the surrounding moat are white.
To get inside the temple you cross a long white bridge, above a daunting sculpture garden of grasping white hands, skulls, fangs and other ghoulish creations reaching up to the bridge. The idea is that you are passing through hell on the way to nirvana.
Many people mistake the golden building located on the left of the temple grounds as a place for worship. It is in fact a public toilet, although closed on the day we visited.
Getting to the White Temple
Wat Rong Khun is located about 13km south of Chiang Rai on highway No.1 If you do not have your own transport you can go by tuk tuk, songthaew or with a tour group.
Hours: open daily from 8.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.
Entrance Fee: There are no entrance fees to visit Wat Rong Khun but donations are always accepted which will contribute to the ongoing construction costs.