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Wat Rong Khun (White Temple)

The Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) on the outskirts of Chiang Rai is a temple like no other in the Thailand. A large pond mirrors its white, the exquisite silhouette. This beautiful temple is the brainchild of the famous Thai Artists Chaloemchai Khositphiphat who wanted to build a temple all in white to signify the purity of Lord Buddha. The construction was started from 1998 and is still ongoing.

All the buildings on the temple ground show a remarkable attention to detail (even evident in the splendid toilet!), so you do need time to study the beautiful art pieces. The bridge leading to the temple represents the cycle of rebirth with the pits of hell. A chill will run up your spine when you see the hands begging desperately to escape from hell and the sculptures of ghoulish creatures and disembodied heads of people who haven't managed yet to overcome lust and gain entry to the Gate of Heaven.

At the first glance, the inside of the main temple seems rather plain with a Buddha statue and devoted prayers. Up close, the epic murals unconventionally show demon images with the eyes of George Bush and Bin Laden and other pop culture reference to indicate the "killing of the innocence".

The Wat Rong Khun is a cannot-be-missed attraction in Chiang Rai. But unfortunately, this art treasure was damaged by an earthquake occurred on the night of May 5, 2014, and is closed for repair for about two years.