When talking about landmarks in Chiang Rai, most people would think of Baan Dam Museum (Black House) by Thawan Duchanee or Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) by Chalermchai Kositpipat. However, relatively recently there is a new attraction, the Wat Rong Suea Ten (Thai: วัดร่องเสือเต้น, wát rông sĕuua dtên), a Blue Temple in Chiang Rai, located on the banks of the Kok River, east of the city municipality, not very far from the city.
Location: 306, Moo 2, Mae Kok Rd., Tambon Rim Kok, Mueang Chiang Rai, 57100
Google Map: https://goo.gl/1He921XTufWFiLKR8
Plus Code Map: 7MFXWRFR+9M
GPS: 19°55’24.1″N 99°50’30.3″E
Opening hours: from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., everyday
Entrance fee: Free
FB Official Page: RSTBlueTemple
Architect: Putha Kabkaew aka Salah Nok (Thai: พุทธา กาบแก้ว)
Year built: 2016
About 80-100 years ago, this place was an abandoned temple. According to tales told by the elders, there weren’t many people settling in the area back then, so there was a large number of wildlife, especially tigers. Locals who passed through this area often saw tigers leaping around or across the ditch, which eventually became the origin of the site being called Rong Suea Ten (literal translation from Thai – Dancing Tiger Ditch); a name that also applies to the nearby village, so it came to be called Rong Suea Ten Village as well.
This blue temple in Chiang Rai was built because the locals had nowhere to make merit in the area. Therefore, when they wanted to do so during important Buddhist occasions, they had to travel to other temples outside the area, scattering the villagers. Hence, they joined to restore this abandoned temple as the spiritual center of the villagers and a place to host religious ceremonies during important occasions.
The most distinctive feature of this religious complex is the temple, which was constructed and designed by a local Chiang Rai artist named Putha Kabkaew, more commonly known as Salah Nok. After he graduated, he had an opportunity to become an apprentice of the famous Chalermchai Kositpipat and assisted him in building Wat Rong Khun White Temple. In the process, he learned much about Buddhist art from his teacher to the point that he could be considered Chalermchai’s protégé. The main temple of Wat Rong Suea Ten began construction on October 27, 2005. The temple is 13 meters wide and 48 meters long. Construction was completed on January 22, 2016, taking more than 11 years.
The primary color tone used is cerulean blue with gold contrast helps make the temple stand out. The cerulean blue color represents the virtues of the Buddha, spreading all knowledge proven true through the principle of cause and effect across the world, akin to a bright open blue sky. Contemporary Buddhist art reflects the dharma of the Buddha.
As for the Nagas in front of the temple, Salah Nok was inspired by the works of the artist Thawan Duchanee, which focus on presenting a firm structure and fearsome claws, yet also displaying the delicateness in Lanna style.
Within the temple situated the Phra Buddha Rajamongkol Bodhi Trilokanat, a white Buddha statue about 5 meters wide and 6.5 meters tall.
The name Rajamongkol Bodhi Trilokanat (รัชมงคลบดีตรีโลกนาถ) is the name given to the piece of Buddha relic that is contained within the head of the white Buddha statue mentioned in the guide. It means Buddha, the lord of fortune in kingship, a champion of the three worlds. The champion part could also be interpreted as one who is dependable as well.
There is a total of 88 thousand Phrarod Lamphun amulets and various treasures buried underneath the statue. The head of the statue also contains a Buddha relic, which was gifted by Somdet Phra Sangharaja Chao Krommaluang Vajirañāṇasaṃvara and named Rajamongkol Bodhi Trilokanat (literal translation from Thai – Buddha who is the Lord of fortune in kingship, a champion of the three worlds).
Somdet Phra Sangharaja Chao Krommaluang Vajirañāṇasaṃvara (สมเด็จพระญาณสังวรสมเด็จพระสังฆราช สกลมหาสังฆปริณายก) is the name of a former Supreme Patriarch of Thailand. The Supreme Patriarch was the head of the order of Buddhist monks in Thailand, and he was the 19th person who held the title.
The walls are decorated with paintings of tales of the Buddha’s history, displaying the delicateness and beauty of the striped patterns. At the back of the temple a white Buddha statue in a pacifying posture.
Then there are the 20 meters tall Phra That Ked Kaew Chula Mani. The top of the Phra That contains relics of Somdet Phra Sangaraja Sakolmaha Sangkha Prinayok.
Phra That Ked Kaew Chula Mani is quite complicated if translated literally. Phra That means Buddha’s relics, Ked means hair, and Kaew could be interpreted as valuable, Chula could mean top of the head, and Mani means gem.
Together, the name could be translated as Buddha’s head hair relic, which would sound pretty weird if translated literally. The gist is that the building called that name contains that particular Buddha relic inside, which is why the entire building is referred to by that name.
Wat Rong Suea Ten was constructed from the faith in Buddhism and the desire to carry on the Buddhist arts of Salah Nok, who was inspired by the works of his teachers Thawan and Chalermchai, resulting in a stunning temple.
As in all other religious places in Thailand, you must observe the dress code:
Men must wear shirts and T-shirts with sleeves covering their shoulders and pants or long shorts that cover their knees.
Women must wear blouses or T-shirts that cover the shoulders and breasts and jeans or skirts that cover the knees. It is forbidden to wear clothes with a wide collar from under which the shoulders are visible and a deep collar from under which the breasts are visible. In addition, it is prohibited to wear shorts and skirts under which the knees are visible.
It is also forbidden for men and women to wear tight (such as leggings or sweatpants) and torn clothing (such as ripped jeans) on the temple grounds, as well as any clothing with a low waist or open belly, and see-through clothing.
The fastest way to get to the Blue Temple from Chiang Mai is to rent a car or motorcycle or take a cab.
You can rent a motorcycle for the trip with us. Check out our prices for bike and scooter rentals.
The cost of a taxi service is approximately 2000-3,000 baht. The travel time is about 3 hours.
You can also book a long-distance trip with the apps we mentioned above. Be sure to check the rates on both apps because prices change all the time. For example, at the time of this post, Grab is offering a car service for 2,396 baht, while InDriver is showing a price of 1,730 baht. But sometimes Grab offers a lower fare. Check it out.
If you are a frugal traveler and prefer public transportation, you can travel to the Blue Temple a little cheaper, but note that a one-way trip can take about 4-8 hours.
First, you must arrive at Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 2, where a bus leaves every 4 hours for Chiang Rai. The cost is about 150-250 baht, depending on the comfort level of the bus. Travel time is 4 hours. Add to this time up to 4 hours of waiting at the bus station.
Then, when you arrive in Chiang Rai, you will need to hire a cab that will take you to the Blue Temple in just 5 minutes. The cost is only 60-80 baht. Use the Grab or InDriver apps we mentioned above.
This method is the golden mean. The trip takes 3 and a half hours and costs about 1100 baht.
You first need to get to Chang Phuak bus station, from where the yellow songthaew leaves hourly for Wiang Kalong (Thai: เวียงกาหลง, wiiang-gaa-lŏng). The travel time is about 2 hours. The cost of the trip is 100 baht.
Then after hiring a cab in Wiang Kalong for 1,000 baht and spending about an hour and a half on the road, you will get to the Blue Temple.
In Buddhism, blue is the color of mercy, symbolizing the self-sufficient, unconditioned nature of enlightenment. In the Blue Temple, this color also symbolizes the Dharma, the virtue of Lord Buddha’s moral code, which has spread throughout the world becoming a philosophical teaching leading to wisdom and spiritual perfection.
The main building of the temple, as it is now recognized around the world, was built in 2016. Its construction took 11 years. The only thing we know about the previous temple building is that about 100 years ago, when the local community decided to renovate it for religious ceremonies, it was an abandoned and dilapidated unnamed temple.
The architect of the blue temple is the famous local artist Putha Kabkaew, also known as Salah Nok, a disciple of the great artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, who built the famous white temple here in Chiang Rai.
The temple is located in Northern Thailand, Chiang Rai province, about 5 kilometers from Mae Fa Luang International Airport. If you arrive in Chiang Rai by plane, you can see this temple from the plane window.
The address of the Blue Temple is: 306, Moo 2, Mae Kok Rd., Tambon Rim Kok, Mueang Chiang Rai.
Google Map: https://goo.gl/1He921XTufWFiLKR8
The distance between the temples is about 16 kilometers, about 25 minutes of travel, considering traffic jams and traffic lights. Therefore, it is most convenient to see the White Temple first, then the Blue Temple, and then the Black House, after which you can drive around and see other local attractions.
Nearby you will find waterfalls, caves, famous temples and museums, mountaintops, and countless delightful views of the surrounding area. For more on all the major attractions in the area, check out our Chiang Rai travel guide.
Before you travel to Wat Rong Suea Ten Blue Temple in Chiang Rai, be sure to check out our helpful tips we’ve written specifically for travelers exploring the Northern Thailand. If you would like to rent a motorcycle, be sure to check out our scooter rental rates. You can contact us for details on this page. See you!
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