Exploring Northern Thailand?
You have already seen thousands of temples. Now you want to see something different?!
What about two temples more?
You are templed out?! Ok, ok, calm down.
These two Chiang Rai temples are so unique and unconventional as you have never seen something similar before and you shall never see it again.
These temples served as art exhibitions at first, but over time they became places for meditation.
One of these Chiang Rai temples is white, the other temple is black.
One temple was created by a student, the other temple was created by his master.
One of the Chiang Rai temples represents the Haven, the other Chiang Rai temple represents Hell.
Welcome to Chiang Rai temples!
Welcome to the two most unconventional and must-see temples in Thailand: the White Temple and the Black Temple!
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- BEST CHIANG RAI TEMPLES: WHITE TEMPLE & BLACK TEMPLE
- 1. WHITE TEMPLE IN CHIANG RAI
- 2. THE BLACK TEMPLE IN CHIANG RAI (Baan Dam or the Black House)
- WHERE TO STAY IN CHIANG RAI IN THAILAND
- MAP OF CHIANG RAI TEMPLES
- THE BEST TIME TO VISIT CHIANG RAI
- GETTING FROM BANGKOK TO CHIANG RAI
- GETTING FROM CHIANG MAI TO CHIANG RAI
BEST CHIANG RAI TEMPLES: WHITE TEMPLE & BLACK TEMPLE
The most popular Chiang Rai temples are the White Temple or Wat Rong Khun, and the Black Temple or Baan Dam (called the Black House as well).
These two temples in Chiang Rai are some of the most famous Buddhist temples in Thailand as they are unique and bizarre. Therefore, visiting the White Temple and the Black Temple in Chiang Rai is among the best things to do in Thailand.
1. WHITE TEMPLE IN CHIANG RAI
Chalermchai Kositpipat, a Thai famous artist designed and built the White Temple as a representation of the Haven.
In its beginnings, White Temple in Chiang Rai was an art showroom, but over time this unique building became a religious monument.
What makes Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai unique is the symbolism of its architecture.
The temple’s sparkling whiteness comes out of the building material, which is glass in plaster.
The white color of the temple symbolizes Buddha‘s purity, while the glass symbolizes the Buddhists’ teachings.
The temple represents the Haven.
And, the Suffering area (or Hell) is just in front of the temple (or the Haven). Hell’s striving hands demonstrate human Desire, Greed, and Temptations.
To reach the Haven (the temple) a visitor needs to cross the Cycle of Rebirth bridge that goes over a small lake that stands in front of the temple. The bridge represents the path from Desires and Suffering (the Hell) to Freedom from Suffering (the Haven).
The main meditation hall of the temple (the Haven) is mostly white colored.
I say mostly, as there are also some colorful quirky murals inside the temple. The murals portray modern Western idols, singers (like Elvis Presley, and Michael Jackson), movie heroes, and comic villains. Characters like Spiderman, Batman, Neo, and Hello Kitty are there.
The characters symbolize the foulness of contemporary men.
Is Chiang Rai White Temple an art exhibit or a temple?
The opinions of the visitors are divided.
However, Wat Rong Khun in Chaing Rai is undisputedly a Buddhist religious monument. Thus, the White Temple’s mandatory dress code asks for covering shoulders and knees. And, of course, taking photos in the Haven (the temple) is not allowed!
1.1 WHERE IS THE WHITE TEMPLE IN CHIANG RAI
The White Temple is located about 13 km (8 miles) southeast of Chiang Rai. The entrance fee is 50 Baht/person (∼1,6 USD).
1.2 HOW TO GET TO THE WHITE TEMPLE IN CHIANG RAI
The cheapest way to get to the temple is by public bus from Chiang Rai bus station. The one-way ticket is 20 Baht (∼0,6 USD).
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2. THE BLACK TEMPLE IN CHIANG RAI (Baan Dam or the Black House)
‘Baan‘ means ‘house‘ and ‘Dam‘ means ‘black’ in the Thai language.
Baan Dam in Chiang Rai, widely known as the Black Temple in Chiang Rai, is a unique museum designed by world-renowned and controversial Thai artist Thawan Duchanee.
The late Thawan Duchanee is presently celebrated as the National Thai Artist.
The Black House in Chiang Rai is a museum, but there are rooms for meditation where nowadays even the Thai royal family members come to meditate.
This bizarre but outstanding museum temple is characterized by an unusual mix of traditional northern Thai style and timeless eccentric design.
The temple compound is made of several buildings. A few of them are traditional teak wood Lanna-style houses and a few are quirky modern structures.
The interiors and exteriors are decorated with animals’ skeletons, skulls, horns, skins, and furs illustrating sickness, old age, and death.
While the furniture is made of animal bones, phallic images that shock visitors are on every corner of this bizarre Chiang Rai temple.
Some visitors call Chiang Rai Black Temple odd, confusing, mysterious, and dark. Some call it morbid, sadistic, scary, and disturbing.
No one stays indifferent to the Black Temple in Chiang Rai after visiting it. And everyone agrees, it is unique.
Confused a bit and amused a lot, I liked this surreal temple museum. The work of Thawan Duchanee reminded me of Salvador Dalí. I would call Thawan Duchanee the Thai Salvador Dalí.
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2.1 WHERE IS THE BLACK HOUSE IN CHIANG RAI
The Black Temple is located about 10 km (6 miles) northwest of Chiang Rai. The entrance fee is 80 Baht/person (∼2,6 USD).
2.2 HOW TO GET TO THE BLACK TEMPLE IN CHIANG RAI
The cheapest way to go to the temple is by public bus from Chiang Rai bus station. The one-way ticket is 20 Baht (∼0,6 USD).
WHERE TO STAY IN CHIANG RAI IN THAILAND
Recommended accommodation in Chiang Rai:
BUDGET: Connect Hostel, Mercy Hostel, Stay In Chiangrai
MID-RANGE: Homestay Chiangrai, Baansuan Rimthan, Saikaew Resort, Maryo Resort
UPSCALE: The Riverie by Katathani, The Imperial River House Resort, Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort
MAP OF CHIANG RAI TEMPLES
Chiangrai White Temple and Black Temple map
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THE BEST TIME TO VISIT CHIANG RAI
The best time to travel to northern Thailand and to visit Chiang Rai and Chaing Rai temples is from December to February when the average daily maximum goes around 79°F (26°C). You should avoid the Moonson season from May to October.
GETTING FROM BANGKOK TO CHIANG RAI
The distance between Bangkok and Chiang Rai is about 510 miles (820 km).
The cheapest direct way to get from Bangkok to Chiang Rai is by bus. A one-way bus ticket from Bangkok to Chiang Rai is about 600 Baht (20 USD). Check out timetables and prices here
GETTING FROM CHIANG MAI TO CHIANG RAI
The distance between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai is about 125 miles (200 km).
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