Wat Rong Khun
Location: Lahaul-Spiti | Pa O Don Chai Subdistrict, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand
Reason to visit: white heaven, religious and modern gem
Our rating: ★★★★
Entrance fee: 50 Baht
Opening Hours: 08:00 – 17:00
Unlike ordinary Thai temples, Wat Rong Khun is white and silver, and this design is rare. The design is the opposite of the minimalism, and the details of the white temple are even more sophisticated. Various flames (or waves) are emanating from the roof, windows, and railing which are in stark contrast to the holiness of white. Even the fish in the pond in front of the temple is all white. According to the artist/architect, the white plaster coating symbolizes Buddha's purity, while the pieces of glass stuck all over the walls represent Buddha's wisdom. This is a place that is as beautiful as heaven which only occurred in your imaginational world. You will be stunned at the first sight.
History of Wat Rong Khun (the White Temple)
By the end of the 20th century, the original Wat Rong Khun was in a bad state of repair. Funds were not available for renovation. Chalermchai Kositpipat, a local artist from Chiang Rai, decided to completely rebuild the temple and fund the project with his own money. To date, Chalermchai has spent THB1,080 million of his own money on the project. The artist intends for the area adjacent to the temple to be a center of learning and meditation and for people to gain benefit from the Buddhist teachings. Kositpipat considers the temple to be an offering to Lord Buddha and believes the project will give him immortal life. Today the works are ongoing, but are not expected to be completed until 2070.
What to expect?
The bridge of "the cycle of rebirth"
Entering the main temple needs passing through a bridge called The bridge of "the cycle of rebirth". Under the bridge, there are countless hands of ghosts that want to escape from hell. Although this is an artistic creation, you will still get frightened when passing through the bridge. The bridge proclaims that the way to happiness is by foregoing temptation, greed, and desire. Next to the lake stand two very elegant Kinnaree, half-human, half-bird creatures from Buddhist mythology. Please don't look back when you walk across the bridge.
The temple displays perfectly mix of traditional and modern imagery, with interior murals combining scenes from the life of Buddha with sci-fi, superhero and pop star images such as Keanu Reeves, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Superman and so-on. It does remain controversial to some Buddhist traditionalists since people think the temple is supposed to be sacred, cutural and religious, however, if we think it in another way, thousands of years later, the legend stars and cartoon characters are older enough to be ‘sacred and cutural’.
The Golden Building
A structure that stands out because of its color is the rest rooms building. The gold symbolizes how people focus on worldly desires and money. The white building represents the idea to make merit and to focus on the mind, instead of material things and possession.
How to get there?
Hire a songtaew or rent a motorcycle