The Black Temple of Chiang Rai

Black temple Chiang Rai white pod building

I recently shared with you my experience of visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai – a fantastical location reminiscent of something Gaudi or Dali might have been happy to have their names associated with.

There is another, slightly less visited and more off the beaten path arty type temple in Chiang Rai – the Black Temple or Black House.

This isn’t actually a temple at all, being instead the place where Thai artist Thawan Duchanee houses both himself and all his artistic endeavours in one, deeply odd place.

It is built in the style of a temple (and a feasting hall of Viking proportions, from what I could tell), and is very much worth your time to visit.

Black temple Chiang Rai interior hall 1

It was in fact my preferred of the two - the main reason for this being that it was overall a far more serene experience, with buildings set amongst large shady trees, and none of the crowds of the white temple.

The serene nature of the black temple was slightly jarred by the huge number of animal bones making up most of the place (the locals refer to the White Temple as Heaven and the Black Temple as Hell), but that aside, I can definitely recommend making the extra effort to fit both into your itinerary.

And now, for some photos to help explain why you shouldn’t miss the Black Temple.

A photo tour of the Black Temple

Black temple Chiang Rai small house on stilts 2

 There were plenty of buildings of unknown purpose dotted around. Presumably for bone storage or something.

Black temple Chiang Rai Vera 2

A guest room for very tall people. Even Vera had no problems with this doorway.

Black temple small house 2 Chiang Rai Thailand

Black temple small house Chiang Rai Thailand

The roofs were very cool!

Blue tinged black temple chiang rai thailand

Crazy toilet Chiang Rai black temple

Even artists need toilets.

Long table from doorway Black temple chiang rai

Looking into the great hall

Table snake black templ chaing rai Thailand

I wasn’t totally convinced about the table cloth.

Black temple Chiang Rai Doorway

Looking out of the great hall

Black temple Chiang Rai giant whale

Yep, it appears to be a large whale room.

Black temple Chiang Rai interior hall and chair 2 final

Black temple Chiang Rai interior hall table and chair

The interior of the great hall was a bit odd, too.

Black temple Chiang Rai Main building front and small building

The main hall from the outside. I loved all the wood.

Black temple Chiang Rai outside house with skulls final

An outside area for sitting and relaxing, playing the drums, and peering at an enormous collection of animal heads.

Visiting the black temple of Chiang Rai

The black temple of Chiang Rai is a little off the beaten track, but not impossible to visit. Obviously the easiest way is to get a taxi from Chiang Rai but this isn’t going to be the most cost effective way.

You can instead get a public bus from the Chiang Rai bus terminal. Ask at the counter for the black house / black temple, or the official name, Bandaam Museum, and they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

Let the driver know where you re going, and you’ll be dropped off on the highway, with a 500m walk down a local road to your destination. Repeat the same in reverse to get back.

Like the white temple, at the time of writing, admission is entirely free.

Our visit to the black and white temples of Chiang Rai were put together by the Tourism Authority of Thailand – big thanks to them for the support. We’d love to hear your opinions of this post – is this somewhere you’d consider visiting? Let us know in the comments below!

I often get asked what gear I use for my photos. Check out my full Photography Gear post to find out!

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