During our time in Chaing Mai, we wanted to see what the northern parts of Thailand can offer. So we hired a private minivan to take us to the area of Chiang Rai, and go explore in the area.
The White Temple in Chiang Rai also known as Wat Rong Khun, is a contemporary unconventional Buddhist temple, designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat in 1997. The temple was damaged by an earthquake in may 2014, but is now opened again as it showed that the main building structures was not servere damaged by the quake.
When we arrived at the temple, the first thing that hit us, was not the shiny white building with thousands of small mirrors, but the huge amount of tourists outside, walking in a strait line towards the brigde to the entrance, to the sound af a guard with a microphone and speakers yelling “Keep moving, and do not touch!” We got into the line, and as we got nearer the temple, we quickly discovered that this has nothing to do with thai culture or history, this is a temple af fantasy and wild ideas. So if you go here to see a traditional thai temple, you will be disappointed, this is a shiny white plastic temple, with guarding deamons, ghostly hands reaching ud from the cycle of death and mirrors everywhere representing the buddhas wisdom shining out across the earth and universe. Much of the temples messages refers to escaping desire, greed and passion to become a sublime buddhist.
In our opinion is the impression that the temple leaves in your soul very artificial, and even though it is a genuine temple, it alle has too much a plastic feel. There are so many different sculptures, paintings and motifs showing predators, superheroes, skulls etc.
Besides the main temple, there are more white building rising from the ground, and the craftsmanship is quite interesting. The shape is mounted in plaster, and mirrors mounted in the wet plaster. Afterwards the entire structure is spray painted bright white, and the workers are hand cleaning each mirror with a sharp blade – what a huge patience these guys must have. The most luxurious toilet building in thailand, is the golden structure which is just opposite the entrance to the park.
So is The White Temple worth a visit? Well – if you are in the area for other reasons, you can drop by and spend 1 or 2 hour here, while you check out this fantasy temple, with all the special details. Traditional thai or not, the level of detail is very impressive.