Chiang Rai Travel Guide

The Blue Temple / Wat Rong Suea Ten

The Blue Temple is immediately recognizable for its brilliant shade of rich sapphire. The temple walls, roof, and surrounding statues are all covered in this gorgeous hue, an unusual decorative choice in a country where most temples are made of gold. This color is symbolically associated with purity, wisdom, and the lack of materialism that Buddhists aspire to.

Blue Temple Entrance

The temple is a fascinating fusion of traditional Buddhist values and classic Thai architecture with extremely contemporary design choices. This modernism makes sense — the Blue Temple was designed by Putha Kabkaew, a student of the artist who built the eccentric White Temple.

Statue at Blue Temple
Blue Temple Statue

The Blue Temple History

The Blue Temple is known in Thai as “Wat Rong Suea Ten”, or “Temple of the Dancing Tiger”. Another ancient temple once stood here, and tigers are said to have roamed freely over the grounds when it was abandoned nearly a century ago. The Blue Temple as it exists today is brand new by comparison. The local village decided to rebuild the temple in 1996 and began the project in 2005. Construction was officially completed in 2016, but The Blue Temple is still considered a work in progress.

Blue Temple Entrance
Blue Temple Statue

Compared to its “older siblings”, the White Temple and the Black House, the Blue Temple is a lesser known tourist destination, and far less busy. This is changing quickly, though, so now is a good time to take a tour here.

Exterior Architecture

Together with its calming cerulean color, the Blue Temple is adorned with gleaming gold trim and surrounded by blue and gold statues of magical Buddhist beings and mythological characters.

Blue Temple

The stairs to the main entrance are guarded by naga serpents, whose tails ripple with detailed scales and twist and whirl around in entrancing elegance. The temple windows are protected by an angelic figure, posing proudly on a pedestal with feathered wings spread wide, a staff grasped behind its back. Brightly colored Yakshas, or female nature spirits, wait nearby to keep the temple safe from evil.

Just behind the temple, a Buddha statue stands in an abaya-mudra pose, emitting an air of calmness and inviting visitors to relinquish fear and anxiety.

Women posing with Standing Buddha at the Blue Temple

Inside the Blue Temple

Inside, the Blue Temple is a kaleidoscope of colour and patterns, with elaborate and unbelievably intricate paintings completely covering every surface. Like most Thai temples, the walls depict stories of the life of the Buddha, but these have been painted in a particularly modern style. Much of this art is mounted in ornate gold frames which fit tastefully with the rest of the theme. Even the ceiling is spectacular, embellished with patterns so extraordinary they are almost psychedelic.

Inside the Blue Temple

The centerpiece of the space is a seated Buddha statue, made of shiny white porcelain that looks eerie and blue in the reflection of the room. Powerfully framed by columns, he sits with one hand pointed to the ground, a representation of the moment he achieved enlightenment.

Inside the Blue Temple

After experiencing the peace of the enlightened Buddha statue, the room’s exit is a bit jarring. The wall around the doorframe is painted to be a representation of Hell, and the doorway itself is the gaping mouth of a demon.

Walk out to the mouth of Hell back into the outside world, where vendors await selling blue ice cream on hot days.

How to Get to the Blue Temple

From Chiang Rai, the easiest way is by motorbike, taxi or tuk tuk, and the best way to explore all the landmarks around is to hire a guide to drive you and give you valuable information.

For a day trip from Chiang Mai, hire a private guide to get the most out of it.

Entrance Fee and Opening Hours

The Blue Temple has no entrance fee, and is open from 7 am to 8 pm every day.

The “Younger Sibling” of its Neighbours

The Blue Temple is an essential addition to any Chiang Rai itinerary for every traveler interested in culture, history, or art in general, and especially those who wish to get to know the landmarks of Northern Thailand. 

Compared to its “older siblings”, the White Temple and the Black House, the Blue Temple is a lesser known tourist destination, and far less busy. This is changing quickly, though, so now is a good time to take a tour here.

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