Wat Rong Khun ( White Temple), the must-visited temple of Chiang Rai is located about 13 km south of Chiang Rai is the unusual and popular Wat Rong Khun . Whereas most temples have centuries of history, this one’s construction began in 1997 by noted Thai painter-turned-architect Chalermchai Kositpipat.
Seen from a distance, the temple appears to be made of glittering porcelain; a closer look reveals that the look is due to a combination of whitewash and clear-mirrored chips. Walk over a bridge and sculpture of reaching arms (symbolising desire) to enter the sanctity of the wát where instead of the traditional Buddha life scenarios, the artist has painted contemporary scenes representing samsara (the realm of rebirth and delusion). Images such as a plane smashing into the Twin Towers and, oddly enough, Keanu Reeves as Neo from The Matrix, dominate the one finished wall of this work in progress. If you like what you see, an adjacent gallery sells reproductions of Chalermchai Kositpipat’s rather New Age–looking works.
To get to the temple, hop on one of the regular buses that run from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai or Phayao and ask to get off at Wat Rong Khun
This magnificent temple, about half an hour from Chiang Rai town, is a living work of art. It is the culmination of the dream of renowned Thai artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat, Â who wants to take traditional Buddhist art into the contemporary world, make an offering to the Budda and create his life’s greatest work.
This project began in 1997 and is still under construction. Most of the funds for the project comes from Khun Chalermchai himself. Although the temple accepts donations, to maintain artistic integrity, nothing more than 10,000 baht is accepted.
The main building is painted white to symbolise the Buddha’s purity, and is covered in mosaics of mirrors, sparkling in the sun, representing the Buddha’s teaching to look back on ourselves and observe the mind. Actually, there seem to be meanings to every detail in the temple. In order to go to the main hall (heaven), you’ll have to cross the pit of hell.
The main hall is finished, although the mural in the hall is only partially completed. This mural is quite interesting, combining traditional buddhist motifs with modern themes complete with monsters and images like the Â burning twin towers of September 11, Keanu Reeves from The Matrix, figures from Star Wars and spaceships. Amongst the chaos on the walls, the buddha sits serenely in the middle of the hall.
2009 is the 12th year of the temple’s construction. To date, Wat Rong Khun has been visited by over five million people. Definitely not to be missed if you’re planning to go to Chiang Rai.
Interested in visiting the White Temple? You’ll be able to combine it with a visit to Chiang Rai.Â Contact us for more information or to book a tour.
Interestings / Valuable Properties !
- Contemporary unconventional Buddhist temple
- Art exibition created by one of Thailand most famous and recognized Artist
- The number of must visit tourist attraction in Chiang Rai
How to get there ?
It’s so easy to get to Wat Rong Khun which is located 13 Km on Phahonyothin Highway before getting to Chiang Rai City which can be reached by motorbike, public bus or personal car.