Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Mai is one of the most interesting places I have seen. It is truly an architectural marvel that has so many intricate details and is so beautifully built. After seeing the images on social media for the first time, I really wanted to visit this temple and see it firsthand for myself. And as part of my yearly ritual of celebrating my birthday in a different country, I decided to head to Chiang Rai to see Wat Rong Khun.
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About Wat Rong Khun
Popularly known as the White temple, Wat Rong Khun is a private art building in the form of a Buddhist temple. Opened in 1997, Wat Rong Khun is designed and owned by Chalermchai Kositpipat, a Thai visual artist.
Representing the purity form in Buddhism, the temple is white in colour because of the white plaster that has been used in building the structure. The white plaster has been complimented with the tiny fragments of mirrored glass pieces. This is to create the reflection of the sunrays on them.
History of Wat Rong Khun
The original structure of Wat Rong Khun was in a bad state until the 20th century, but Chalermchai Kositpipat decided to renovate the structure with his own money and build the art exhibit. The structure has been completely designed, and constructed by Chalermchai himself. He considers the building to be an offering to Lord Buddha. He intends to build a meditation centre next to Wat Rong Khun where visitors can obtain preachings of Buddhism and meditate.
Architecture of Wat Rong Khun
Wat Rong Khun is popular for the intricate details with some of the amazing and unique elements of architecture. Every part of the temple symbolises something beautiful and elaborate.
The Bridge of the Cycle of Rebirth
The pathway between the entrance and the gate is the Bridge of the Cycle of Rebirth. On both the sides of the bridge are thousands of hands, representing unrestrained desire. The bridge is built to portray that the way to happiness and peace is by let going the desire and temptation.
The Gate of Heaven
Guarded by the two sculptures representing the Death and Rahu (the one who decides the fate of the dead), the Gate of Heaven is the entrance gate into the building.
The Golden Building
Symbolising how the world focuses on the desires such as money, the Golden building just next to the main building (Ubosot) represents the body and is the rest rooms building. I had never seen rest room so beautifully structed in my life.
Ubosot is the main building which is the white building. The building represents the mind and talks about how the happiness can be obtained by forgiving the worldly desires. The inside of the building have décor that represents demons and wicked. There are murals of T-800 from Terminator, Harry Potter, Neo from The Matrix and many others.
- Timings – The temple is open everyday throughout the year between 8 AM and 5 PM.
- Entry ticket – The temple has an entry fee of 50 THB (which is around USD 1.3) and the tickets can be purchased at the entrance of the temple.
- Dress code – There is a dress code to enter the temple. You need to wear full pants and full sleeved shirts.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Why is Wat Rong Khun white in colour?
Chalermchai Kositpipat believes that the temple is an offering to Lord Buddha and white represents purity in Buddhism. And hence the temple is white in colour.
What is the importance of Wat Rong Khun?
Wat Rong Khun is a privately owned art exhibit built like a Buddhist temple. The temple is specifically known for the detailing and the amazing architecture.
What are the operational timings for Wat Rong Khun/The White temple?
The temple is open everyday between 8 AM and 5 PM.
How much is the entry fee for Wat Rong Khun/The White temple?
There is an entry fee of 50 THB (around USD 1.3) per person.
What is inside Wat Rong Khun/The White temple?
There are murals that are fiery and confusing. These are to send a message that people have desire and are wicked.
How to get to Wat Rong Khun from Chiang Mai?
Wat Rong Khun is located in Pa O Don Chai of Chiang Rai province. The temple is around 15 kilometres from Chian Rai town and by road takes just 20 minutes.
I stayed at Chiang Mai and I traveled to Chiang Rai just for a day to see the White temple.
There is also a public bus that leaves from Chiang Rai old bus stop to the White temple. The bus fare is around 20THB (around USD 0.5).
Safety for solo female travelers
Chiang Rai is very safe for solo female travelers. In fact, Thailand is one of the countries that is very safe for tourists especially for solo female travelers. I have traveled in Thailand extensively and a few times have been solo and have never had any issues whatsoever. However, like any other place in the world be cautious, especially at night and know your surroundings at all times.
Wat Rong Khun is a very interesting building I have ever seen. It is not exactly a religious kind of temple but is surely a very unique and a different structure. It is worth visiting the White temple as it is one of its kind.
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