Fantasy at Wat Rong Khun

Next up is the treat I had been waiting for . . .  . Wat Rong Khun – better known to tourists as the White Temple.

It’s a modern, unconventional Buddhist temple in Chiang Rai that simmers in the sunlight as if it’s made of snow.


I first heard about the temple during my first visit to Thailand about four years ago but didn’t have chance to see it.

Designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat in 1997 this is no traditional temple. It’s decorated with murals of modern day superheros, villains and events such as superman, Bin Laden, the burning trade towers and other iconic modern day images.

The perils of booze are advertised in the most terrifying way ever while shrunken heads of Pinhead and other monsters swing in the breeze. Meanwhile Predator attempts to extricate itself from the ground much to the terror of small children.

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It’s a fairy tale, sugar spun white confection of weirdness with a dark under belly.

Much of the temple’s messages refer to escaping earthly desires and greed and moving towards the sublime through Buddhist teachings. To physically demonstrate this you have to cross a sea of beseeching hands in purgatory, over the bridge to nirvana.


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Departing from the usual gold of traditional Thai temples, Chalermchai chose to construct the temple in white, representing the purity of Lord Buddha. The results seem like surreal scenes moulded out of cake icing!

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The twinkling mirrors embedded in the structure reflect the sunlight, reminding visitors of Buddha’s wisdom shining out across the world. (Plus some rather creepy demons coming at you too!)


Another interesting feature of the temple are the intricate, beautiful prayer trees that are made up of thousands of delicate metallic chimes with wishes and hopes written on them.

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The temple shimmers under the blue skies. An other worldly vision of loveliness.


While most of the temple is white, the designer chose to make the toilet block gold! It’s all to do with people and their worldly desires and needs! (Not sure what colour the actual loo roll was!)

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