Wat Rong Kuhn
White represents death in many Asian cultures. So much of Wat Rong Kuhn symbolizes death and, I think, Buddha’s superiority over death and tribulations. But, there are interesting references to science fiction and popular culture mixed into the artwork as well.
We visited Wat Rong Kuhn on day two of our six days in Northern Thailand. Our new friends, Martin and Anke, needed a computer part so we spent our morning at the mall. This only left half a day for sightseeing.
Wat Rong Kuhn lies at the south end of Chiang Rai right off the main highway so it’s easy to find. Parking and the entrance are actually at the back. There is no admission fee to the grounds, but there is a small admission fee (50 baht) if you want to go inside the main temple.
In contrast to Thailand’s brightly colored wats, most of the temple complex is white which is why tourists also refer to this as the “white temple.” The complex is the artwork of Chalermchai Kositpipat who funded the project entirely.
After you pay the admission fee, you walk past these hands and faces to get to the
Although Wat Rong Kuhn is an art installation, it is also a functioning wat so many people offer prayers here. You can buy a decorative hanger to write your prayer request/wish on and hang it on one of these poles.
Thousands of these prayer requests hang from the ceilings of the covered walkways, prayer trees and the roof of the wishing well. The give a light airy feeling to the covered spaces.
The science fiction and pop culture references are mostly in the free part of the complex but there are also some inside the main temple (no photos allowed in there). You might recognize some of the characters hanging from the trees.
Chalermchai Kositpipat’s vision for this wat is very grand so construction of the entire complex is not expected to be complete until 2070. They were constructing a new building while we were there. Even so it’s very interesting and symbolic.