Just south of Chiang Rai, off Highway 1, there is one of the most amazing and stunning temples I have ever seen in Thailand. Called officially the “Chapel of Wat Rong Khun” it has become to be known simply as “The White Temple”. This is another one of those places that hasn’t been discovered by the Lonely Planet people yet. (One of these days, I will start a website called “Not in the Lonely Planet”. Though I am sure that many of these places we have been featuring the last year or so will sooner or later end up in future editions.)
This is a modern form of architecture which you don’t often see in temple grounds. It was designed and built by Thailand’s premier artist Chaloemchai Khositphiphat. The attention to detail is remarkable and you do need to spend some time here studying the beautiful artwork. To reach the temple you have to cross a bridge over a pit of hell. Down below there are sculptures of people who are presumably trying to escape from hell. Inside the temple is a beautiful coloured mural of the Buddha.
The weather wasn’t too good the day we visited this temple. You really need a blue sky to show off the fine details of the sculptures. However, it was still worth visiting. Next door there is a small art gallery showcasing the work of Chaloemchai Khositphiphat. You can also buy copies of his paintings here. They are all very beautiful. Chapel of Wat Rong Khun is 13 kms south of Chiang Rai. We stopped here on our way back down south. Alternatively you can use Chiang Rai as a base while you visit this temple and other places.