Temple of a million bottles
Published/Last edited or updated: 25th February, 2021
The resourceful monks at Wat Lan Kuad show that discarded glass bottles can be recycled in more ways than one. Some may view this “Temple of a Million Bottles” as an artistic or environmental statement, but it’s really just a regular monastery constructed from a material that saves money and looks darn good.
Also known as Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew, the small temple began playing around with bottles in 1984. Before too long, the monks and lay community had pieced together an elegant ordination hall rising from a pond, and an impressive wihaan topped by a chedi that reaches high up to the tree branches.
Other structures include a large bell tower, several individual bungalows where the monks live, and a meditation room containing several Buddha images. Even the pillars are made of bottles. Take a closer look at the wall mural depicting the Buddha meditating under the Bodhi tree and you’ll see that it was painstakingly crafted from bottlecaps that still display their respective beverage company logos.
Apart from the glass windows, concrete floors and a bit of extra cement to hold it all together, all of the buildings were made entirely from bottles. Perhaps they say something about Northeast Thailand’s drinking preferences, or more likely, which types of bottles make the best bricks.
Small brown Red Bull bottles (the energy drink was first developed in Thailand) are by far the most widely used, followed by green and brown beer bottles and clear soda bottles.
As bottle donations continue to pour in, the resident monks continue to use them to construct buildings that have proven to be bright, cool and structurally sound. From an aesthetic standpoint, it certainly beats the tons of concrete commonly used in modern Thai temples.
Wat Lan Kuad (also spelt Kuart or Kuort) is located in the town of Khun Han, 60 km south of Si Saket town along highways 221 and 2111. Local buses run hourly from Si Saket bus station between 06:00 to 18:00 and drop off just east of a traffic circle in the centre of Khun Han. From there, walk to the west side of the circle, continue west for a few hundred metres, take the first right, and Wat Lan Kuad will be just up the street on the left.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.