Wat Rong Khun the ‘White Temple’ of Chiang Rai was damaged by the earthquake in May 2014 and closed to the public. It may now be visited again but access to the inside may be limited. So if you are planning a visit don’t miss out on a spectacular creation in progress.
We are all entitled to our opinions but it is disrespectful to write a review before having, at least, done some research on the subject under review. Having read a number of scathing reviews on Trip Advisor before writing this post it is evident that the reviewers have absolutely no idea of why Wat Rong Khun is being built or who the creator is. Fortunately most of the reviews are sensible and offer a wide variety of personal insight and observation which all adds to the mystique.
The Temple complex is not only a cleverly structured and laid out project which has been under construction for 17 years but will take probably another 70+ years to complete. Ajarn Chalermchai (50) is a famous and truly gifted artist and is also a visionary who has built and trained a team of local people to carry on his life’s work after he is gone. His beautiful art is truly inspirational and the concept of Wat Rong Khun is revolutionary. I will not be surprised if one day it is heralded as a modern wonder of the world.
Tourist trap? – Never
Wat Rong Khun can never be classed as a tourist trap, as some have suggested. It is a fascinating place which people will want to visit more and more. Therefore it is definitely a tourist attraction but with free admission, so the ball is in your court as to whether you spend any money or not. There is no trap!
Search for the hidden messages
Every detail in the complex tells a story or relays a message of peace and hope and so it is very much in line with Buddhist teaching. However, Ajarn Chalermchai is a 21st century man so there is a wonderfully modern view which should appeal to modernists and the younger generation. Everywhere you look you will find hidden and obvious messages in the construction and the art work. You are invited to decipher and interpret them. Ajarn has devoted his life to the project which he will never see complete. It is already an amazing accomplishment. How will it be viewed In another 70 years ? The mind boggles.
“I want to build a heavenly garden (representing happiness) for humans to stroll in. I want all visitors of whatever religion to have a feeling of peace, happiness and at the same time get to understand the meaning of Buddhism that can be seen all over the temple, whether it’s in the architecture, the drawings or the moulding works.”