The White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand

by Benjamin Kerns

Nov 16, 2015

© Quang Bui Duc | Dreamstime


With thousands of wats scattered throughout Thailand, there are simply too many to choose from without feeling like you’ve missed something important. Out of the 40,000 wats available, The White Temple in Chiang Rai is a can’t-miss spectacle.


Wat Rong Khun, The White Temple of Thailand © Phittavas Phupakdee | Dreamstime 55851554

© Phittavas Phupakdee | Dreamstime


Unlike most traditional Buddhist temples, The White Temple is a modern marvel and art project that serves as both a place of worship and the lifelong goal of an artist with unique and, some might say, creepy designs.


Among the golden statues of the Lord Buddha inside the temple you’ll also find paintings depicting scenes of ancient and modern myths, while outside the temple you’ll find sculptures of pop-culture icons like the Predator emerging from the ground, or the hanging heads of some of Marvel’s superheroes dangling from trees. Sounds strange? It is. But there’s also a mystifying sense of beauty in it all that draws crowds by the thousands each day.


Wat Rong Khun, The White Temple of Thailand © Apichai Hanjirasawas | Dreamstime 46791192

© Apichai Hanjirasawas | Dreamstime


The buildings themselves are painted in blinding white paint and can be spotted from miles away.


It’s certainly unexpected, but oddly charming and reminiscent of a Tim Burton creation in the middle of northern Thailand. Once you’re done exploring the temple itself, you can also find paintings from the artist in a connected building, which are certainly worth a look. He depicts the mysticism surrounding Buddhist legends as well as hilarious paintings that mock some of pop cultures most iconic moments.


Wat Rong Khun, The White Temple of Thailand © Jukree | Dreamstime 36028547

© Jukree | Dreamstime


The White Temple isn’t quite steeped in the history of the other temples you’ll find in Thailand, but that’s part of the draw. It’s a welcome relief from the monotony that comes after viewing temple after temple that all seem to look the same, while The White Temple stands out and is undeniably unique.


Wat Rong Khun, The White Temple of Thailand © Mikegunawan | Dreamstime

Wat Rong Khun, The White Temple of Thailand © Mikegunawan | Dreamstime



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