Baan Dam Museum - The Famous Black House in Chiang Rai

Baan Dam Museum (Thai: พิพิธภัณฑ์บ้านดำ, pí-pít-tá-pan bâan dam) is an art museum with a total land area of over 100 rais (160,000 square meters) located in Tambon Nang Lae, Chiang Rai. It was constructed by Thawan Duchanee, a Thai national artist skilled in the arts of painting and sculpture responsible for various works of art ranging from drawings and sculptures. Baan Dam’s distinctive features are wooden huts built in Lanna style and uniquely-shaped concrete huts.

Baan Dam Museum Chiang Rai

Location: 414, Moo 13, Nang Lae, Chiang Rai, 57100
Google Map: Find Routes
Plus Code Map: 7MFXXVR6+R6
Latitude: 19.9920625
Longtitude: 99.8605625
Opening hours: from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., everyday
Entrance fee: 80 THB

Visitors exempt from entrance fees:
• Children below 12 years old or not taller than 120 centimeters
• Students in uniforms or have verified student IDs
• Government officials in uniforms or have verified IDs
• Tour guides with verified IDs
• Monks or religious figures of all beliefs
• Pregnant women
• Elders; 60-years-olds and older
• Handicapped persons or people with disabilities

Founder: Thawan Duchanee
Year built: 2009

Black House Area

Almost all the huts are painted black, Thawan’s favorite color, hence the name Baan Dam, which means Black House in Thai. Each place is decorated with lovely wooden sculptures and animal horn mounts, such as over 100 pieces of buffalo horns, deer horns, crocodile skin, large sea shells, and animal bones such as elephant bones. As most of the buildings are painted in black, which is a complete contrast to Chalermchai’s Wat Rong Khun, which has a dominantly white color, the locals tend to allude that “Chalerm created heaven while Thawan created hell.”

Black House Wooden Architecture

The areas within Baan Dam are surrounded by many big and small trees and have a calm atmosphere. There are a total of 40 huts, each with its own different characteristics. Only 2-3 huts can be entered, while you can only peek inside through the front doors for others. The collectibles and objects displayed in each hut reflect a different concept. The huts were not created as dwellings but to keep various collectibles of Thawan. However, there are only a few of Thawan’s paintings in Baan Dam.

Concrete Huts

The first point of interest is the small temple in the front, followed by the cathedral, which looks like a large and grand black traditional Thai house. Inside the cathedral is a wide-open hall with various collectibles and works of art from paintings, sculptures, animal mounts, etc. There is also a huge black crocodile skin on a really long table.

Inside The Black House

Behind the cathedral are several huts, each with its own unique artistic style and shape, from Ruen Lhong Khao, Sala Phra Si Ariyabot, Ruen Sung Sumarn, Baan Dam Ka Lae Keaw Fah, Sala Tawan Ok, Hong Taem, etc. You can tour each house and immerse yourself in Thawan’s works of art.

Ruen Lhong Khao can be translated to “Barn Hut”, Sala Phra Si Ariyabot can be roughly translated to “Four Postures of Buddha Pavillion”, Ruen Sung Samarn can be translated to “Crocodile Hut”,

Baan Dam Ka Lae Keaw Fah is a bit tricky. “Ka Lae” is a name for a unique Lanna roof attachment that is believed to be able to ward off crows (“Ka” in Thai) because they brought bad luck. “Keaw Fah” means “Hooked to the Sky”. I suppose it’s to mean that the “Ka Lae” piece of this building is “hooked to the sky”, hence the name. So, the full name could be roughly translated to “A black house with a Ka Lae that’s hooked to the sky”.

Sala Tawan Ok means “East Pavillion”, and Hong Taem is roughly translated to “Marked Room”

Even though Thawan has passed away, Baan Dam continues to open for visitors to experience the unique artistic beauty.

Sculptural Performance

Guided Day Tour

If you want to travel on two wheels from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai to see this extraordinary place with your own eyes, you can contact us to book a motorcycle. But if you want to book a guided tour, we recommend GetYourGuide (you will see the list of tours below), where you can combine one trip to visit several iconic places of Chiang Rai. We like this tour booking system because before booking you can read tourist reviews in advance, and make the best decision when choosing a tour operator.

Weather Forecast

Also check out the other interesting attractions in northern Thailand that we have detailed in our Places to Visit in Chiang Mai travel guide.

YT Review

Baan Dam Museum Official Video

Chiang Rai & Thailand with Ruth

Curious Bob

FAQ

The Baan Dam Museum is only a 15-minute drive from the Blue Temple, and about a half-hour drive from the White Temple. It is very convenient to visit these three magnificent temples in one day and then go on a multi-day trip around Chiang Rai.

Construction of the Black House began around 1976 with a triangular house. Gradually, new architectural forms and structures were created on the territory of the museum. In 1992, the Small Temple was touched. Two years later, in 1994, the Eastern Pavilion was built. The construction of the main Cathedral was completed in 2009, its construction and filling of the exhibits took almost 10 years. Other buildings and architectural forms on the territory of the Black House were constantly erected, until the death of Thawan Duchanee.

The claim of some tourist guides that the Black House symbolizes hell is a fallacy. The main buildings and many of the exhibits are painted black or in a very dark color because black was the favorite color of the artist Thawan Duchanee who created this magnificent museum.

Black House is a famous contemporary art museum in Chiang Rai, Thailand. It is a space dedicated to the exploration and celebration of modern and contemporary Thai art, as well as international art forms. Since 1998, Black House has become an influential force in forming Thai contemporary art practices and has become a destination for visitors from around the world. The museum was founded by National Artist Thawan Duchanee and is known for its unique blend of traditional Thai architecture and modern art. The unique and intricate architecture of the museum creates a unique atmosphere for the works on display and contributes to why Black House is considered one of the leading art museums in Southeast Asia.

If you want to visit this museum on your own, without a guide, then you do not need to buy tickets in advance.

The Black House was founded by National Artist Thawan Duchanee. He began building it in 1976 and has continued to expand it ever since. It is his unique blend of traditional Thai architecture with modern art that has made the Black House a landmark and one of the most influential contemporary art spaces in Southeast Asia.

Before you visit Baan Dam Museum in Chiang Rai, check out the safety tips we’ve written specifically for travelers exploring Northern Thailand. If you want to rent a motorcycle, be sure to check out our motorcycle rental prices. If you have additional questions about bike rentals in Chiang Mai, feel free to ask us. See you soon!

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