On our first border run to Myanmar, we stopped at Wat Rong Khun, aka The White Temple, on the outskirts of Chiang Rai. I’d seen pictures and it looked amazing but it is much cooler in person.
Its not a very big temple. Yet. They’re currently constructing many new buildings and over time, they’ll each be decorated just as the main temple we saw.
The temple was started by a Thai artist in 1997 and work is planned to continue for many, many years even after the artist dies. It is a Buddhist temple, but a very unconventional one.
You enter the main temple by walking over a bridge which I think is supposed to symbolize the cycle of rebirth. You cross over the pits of Hell with people reaching trying to escape. And Death is guarding the end of the bridge. Its all pretty disturbing and Mara walked over it really fast without looking.
Ahhhh, safely over the pits of Hell:
Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to take pictures inside the temple. The inside is equally unconventional – there are paintings of modern scenes such as the World Trade Center towers being attacked, The Matrix, Michael Jackson and more. It’s still very much a work in progress and we saw someone painting on one of the walls while we were there.
The bathrooms are equally extraordinary and housed in this beautiful gold building:
More buildings are being built around the grounds and in time, they too will be decorated.
Around the grounds there are these towers decorated with thousands of hanging metal ornaments. You can buy one, write a message on it and hang it with the rest which will become a permanent decoration on the temple property. So of course we bought one for each of us, each wrote a personal message and hung ours up.
The White Temple is definitely worth a visit if you come to the Chiang Rai area. I would love to see what its going to look like in another 10, 20 and more years.
Entrance is free and you can see everything in 60-90 minutes, but I’d plan on 2-4 hours to really explore and enjoy everything.