Thailand is home to countless temples, in Chiang Mai it seemed that there was one on just about every street corner, like dogs in Chile. And though they are all interesting in their own right, with so much abundance you start to get immune to their beauty, similar to the plethora of Duomos in Italy. One has to be truly special in order to catch your attention. After traveling for a week in Chiang Mai, I was just about all templed out. But, that was before a short trip to the peculiar White Temple in Chiang Rai.

The White Temple, Wat Rong Khun, is an unconventional Buddhist Temple located about 2 1/2 hours north of Chiang Mai. And it is a vision of pure white. Go figure. The White Temple in Chiang Rai

When we first arrived the initial reaction was “holy crap, there are a gazillion people here”. Dozens of tourists were milling about, but that thought only lasted a millisecond, because behind all of them stands one of the most striking and bizarre pieces of architecture I have ever seen.

The Wat Rong Kuhn is decked out in white, meant to symbolize purity.
The White Temple in Chiang Rai The White Temple in Chiang Rai

Bring your sunglasses, you’re gonna need them. Not only for the brightness of the color, but also for the reflections from the mirrored glass mosaic scattered throughout the grounds.
The White Temple in Chiang Rai

Amongst all the purity the creator has representations of evil too, with its eerie disembodied heads hanging from the trees and spooky hands reaching out from the ground, symbolizing Hell.

I walked by those hands quickly hoping one wasn’t going to grab my leg and pull me in. The White Temple in Chiang Rai White Temple Chiang Rai

There were no photos allowed inside the temple, but I can guarantee that is does not disappoint. The walls are artistically painted with murals depicting modern icons; Superman, spaceships, Angry Birds and even Star Wars characters.

Just outside the temple fence were intriguing tree-like structures filled with hanging metal and I needed to get closer to investigate.
The White Temple in Chiang Rai The White Temple in Chiang Rai

Each of the thousands of tin ornaments hanging from these trees had hand written personal notes on them. A wish for the future. Even though I had just been in Hong Kong making incense wishes at a Monastery, I couldn’t resist making a wish here too. Is there really a limit on wishes anyway?

We purchased two metal hangers for 60 baht ($1.99 usd) and wrote our wishes at the provided stations.

Peter drew a simple peace sign on his and I wrote “Health, Food & Travel” on mine. We then hung them to the bottom of the overloaded tree, hoping to come back in the future to still see them there.
The White Temple in Chiang Rai The White Temple in Chiang Rai The White Temple in Chiang Rai

Have you been to the White Temple in Chiang Rai? Did you leave a wish?

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