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Wat Rong Khun

Wat Rong Khun

White elephant or great work of art? You be the judge, but either way this out of the ordinary temple is a must see for any traveler to Chiang Rai.

Wat Rong Khun or The White Temple has been shrouded in controversy since a rich Thai businessman bankrolled its construction in 1997 - and its architect and artist Chalermchai Kositpipat - made a significant departure from the original plans.

It is questionable as to whether traditional Buddhists hold the artist's vision in high regard, but the Temple remains a very attractive curiosity nonetheless. A sea of hands holding skulls awaits your passage over a bridge to the temple, symbolizing hell and the passage to heaven. Once inside, murals feature images from popular culture, Hollywood films and even McDonald's.

The artist's message is about freeing oneself from consumerism. Located about 5 kilometers to the south of Chiang Rai, The White Temple is still under construction with plans to feature a total of nine buildings.

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