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Wat Rong Khun (White Temple)

Home > Vietnam > Architecture | Churches | Free | Places of Worship
by Ian Marshall (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer and yogi living in Tepoztlan, Mexico where I'm running with my girlfriend. You can keep up with my other writing on or
Published October 17th 2012
White Temple, Wat Rong Khun, for Buddhism with added Batman
White Temple, Chiang Rai
Gleaming White Temple, Chiang Rai

Wat Rong Khun is the work of Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat and signifies a new vision of Buddhist architecture and worship.
It is a beautiful structure on the edge of the Northern city of Chiang Rai and is made in white with mirrored tiles to reflect the sun.
Construction on the temple started in 1997 but work continues and it is not expected to be completed until 2070 - Kositpipat has assembled a team who work every day and he oversees their efforts.

It is extremely unusual compared to other Thai Wats, and not least from the colour-scheme which differs from the standard red and gold. The White Temple uses imagery of skulls and modern culture to represent the Buddhist teachings and to portray the message in a totally new way.

From the skull traffic bollards to the Predator emerging from the ground and the hands of lost souls rising up from the ground as you enter the main hall the imagery is much less peaceful than you would normally see.


hellish hands
Hellish hands

Predator type
Predator type

The mural inside the temple is the traditional image of the Buddha overcoming the Mara or the demon who attempts to take him away from his path of enlightenment while he is meditating under the Bodhi tree. This mural shows modern influences, representing the evil in the world that causes suffering. In the eyes of the demon are George W Bush and Osama Bin Laden and there are many references to popular culture such as Darth Vader, Spiderman and Neo from the Matrix.

As far as I can gather the idea that by overcoming all this distraction and evil one can attain enlightenment as praying figures and monks line the wall of the hall heading towards the Buddha image at the front.

Wishing Well
Wishing Well

Crystal Ball
Crystal Ball

There are other buildings on the site, a most impressive gold toilet block, a wishing well and a rather good gallery of other work by the artist.

Golden Buddha
Golden Buddha
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Why? Amazing Temple and Art space in Chiang Rai
When: Anytime
Where: Chiang Rai
Cost: Free
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