To DoVisit Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai’s white temple: Wat Rong Khun

Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai’s white temple, is a bright white building, a magical place surrounded by works of art in a fairytale landscape.

A must-see temple if you visit the north of the country during your travel to Thailand.

History of the White Temple of Chiang Rai

At the end of the 20th century, the original Wat Rong Khun was an old temple that was falling into ruins and there was no bottom to restore it.

A renowned Thai artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat, then proposed to completely renovate it with his own money to pay tribute to King Rama IX and Chiang Rai, his native city.

He has already spent more than 40 million baht on the project, which should not be completed before 2070!

Wat Rong Khun 1

Wat Rong Khun damaged by an earthquake

On May 5, 2014, the White Temple suffered extensive damage due to an earthquake.

The artist Chalermchai Kositpipat initially thought that the temple should be demolished for security reasons.

But experts came to see the damage and assured that the structure of the buildings was in good condition and that it was not necessary to destroy it.

The white temple was quickly restored and has since been opened to the public again.

Discover the white temple of Chiang Rai

Wat Rong Khun will include nine buildings, when it is fully completed (in 2070!), with the art gallery and toilets.

Wat Rong Khun 3

To obtain a brightly white temple, the artist used pieces of mirrors that were embedded in the building.

Whiteness embodies the purity of Buddhism and mirrors, illumination.

Wat Rong Khun 5

We reach the White temple by a bridge under which hundreds of hands seem to want to catch you, do not fall into this hell, you would be, like all these unfortunate tourists, instantly turned into stone!

Chiang Rai Temple Bridge

The official description:

The bridge of the “cycle of rebirth.”

The white temple is reached by crossing a bridge over a small lake.

Under the bridge are the hundreds of hands of those who did not resist the temptation.

The bridge teaches that the way to happiness is to avoid temptation, greed, and desire.

Next to the lake are two elegant creatures, half-human, half-bird, from Buddhist mythology (Kinnara).

The Gate of Heaven

After crossing the bridge, the visitor arrives at the “gate of heaven,” guarded by two creatures representing Death and Rahu; they are the ones who decide the fate of the dead.

In front of the main building, there are several images of Buddha in meditation.

The temple was designed on the model of classical Thai architecture, with the three-tiered roof and the extensive use of Naga snakes.

In the temple, the decoration moves quickly from virgin white to fire and glare.

The wall paintings represent the flames and demonic faces, interspersed with Western idols such as Michael Jackson, Neo from The Matrix, Freddy Kruger and Terminator.

Images of nuclear war, terrorist attacks, and oil pumps mark the destructive impact that humans have on the earth.

The presence of Harry Potter, Superman, and Hello Kitty confuses the message, but the general morality is clear: People are evil, and this world is just an illusion.

The golden building

The golden building of Wat Rong Khun

The golden building represents the body, while the white temple represents the spirit.

Gold symbolizes the way people focus on worldly desires and silver.

The white building represents the idea of doing merit and focusing on the mind, instead of material things and possession.

Practical information

The paintings exhibited in the temple are for sale; they are used to finance the work.

Go to the White Temple of Chiang Rai

The temple is located 13 km from Chiang Rai city.

If you do not have a vehicle, you must go to the central bus station in Chiang Rai.

There are many local buses with which the journey takes about 30 minutes and costs about 20 baht.

But you can also go with a private songtaew (pick up taxi) or tuk-tuk.

Address of Wat Rong Khun

1208, Tambon Pa O Don Chai, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand

Official website (in Thai):

Other pictures of Wat Rong Khun

Videos on the White Temple of Chiang Rai

A superb aerial view of the white temple

A guided tour of the White Temple

Google map of Wat Rong Khun


See also:
Chiang Rai: the complete guide
What to do in Chiang Rai
Chiang Saen north of Chiang Rai, discover the golden triangle

Source:; Photos: Wat Rong Khun 1 to 10: Ddalbiez; Wat Rong Khun 11 and 12: Justin Vidamo; yellow building and statue: ckmck[/su_note]



Settled in Thailand since a few years (with trips to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia), I love this country and its inhabitants, the real country of Smiles! Sorry for any translation errors that may occur. Feel free to mention them in the comments, I will correct them. Thank you.

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