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Wat Rong Khun

“The White Temple” of Chiang Rai

The white temple in Chiang Rai
The white temple
Name
Wat Rong Khun, “The White Temple”
Date
Completely rebuild late 20th century onward
Location
Off Highway 1 (Phahonyothin road)
15 kilometers South West of Chiang Rai town

Wat Rong Khun, better known as “the White Temple” is one of the most recognizable temples in Thailand. The temple outside the town of Chiang Rai attracts a large number of visitors, both Thai and foreign, making it one of Chiang Rai’s most visited attractions.

Unique temple

Wat Rong Khun is a unique temple that stands out through the white color and the use of pieces of glass in the plaster, sparkling in the sun. The white color signifies the purity of the Buddha, while the glass symbolizes the Buddha’s wisdom and the Dhamma, the Buddhist teachings.

The Wat Rong Khun was designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat, a famous Thai visual artist. To date the temple is not finished. Eventually there will be nine buildings including an ubosot, a hall to enshrine Buddhist relics, a meditation hall, the monks living quarters and an art gallery.

On May 5th 2014 a strong earthquake hit Chiang Rai. Although the white temple was badly damaged, Chalermchai Kositpipat decided to restore and further expand the Wat Rong Khun.

History of the Wat Rong Khun

Towards the end of the 20th century, the original Wat Rong Khun was in a very poor state of preservation. Restoration works on the temple started, but had to be halted due to a lack of funds.

Chalermchai Kositpipat, a artist born in Chiang Rai, decided to completely rebuild the temple and fund the project with his own money. The artist built the temple to be a center of learning and meditation and for people to gain benefit from the Buddhist teachings. Today the works are ongoing.

For more information about meditation and a list of retreats and temples in Thailand that teach meditation, read meditation retreats in Thailand.

The golden building of the Wat Rong Khun
The golden building

Structures of the temple and their symbolism

Click here to: The structures of the white temple and their symbolism

Every detail of the temple and structures as the bridge of “the cycle of rebirth” and the “Gate of Heaven” carries meaning and encourages the visitor to reflect on the Buddhist teachings that show the way to escape from the worldly temptations, desires and greed and focus on the mind instead. Click here to read more....

How to get to the Wat Rong Khun

The Wat Rong Khun is located just off Highway 1 (Phahonyothin road) about 15 kilometers South West of Chiang Rai town. The most comfortable way to get there is by private air conditioned taxi. The ride from town takes about 20 minutes, the fare is between 250 and 300 Baht. Most Chiang Rai hotels will be able to book one.

It is fairly easy to get to the white temple using public transport. Buses leave from the old bus station near the night bazaar in the center of Chiang Rai town. The trip takes around 30 minutes, fare is 20 Baht one way. Alternatively, charter a blue songthaew at the old bus station at about 300 Baht.

Entrance fee & opening hours

The white temple is much visited by both foreign tourists and Thai people, the latter mainly on weekends and Thai National Holidays. The grounds can get busy. The temple opens daily from 8 am until 6 pm.

Admission is 50 Thai Baht per person. Donations for the construction and maintenance of the temple are welcome.

Please dress respectfully, which means no revealing clothes. Please take off your shoes before entering a temple building. Taking photos is not allowed in the main building. A gallery on the grounds sells art works of the temple’s designer, Chalermchai Kositpipat. The gallery closes at 5.30 pm. Souvenirs, coffee and snacks are available on the grounds.

Symbolism of the white temple

Visit the White Temple

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