Photo: These snacks go great with an iced beer.

Wat Lan Kuad (Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew)

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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.

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We dig the parquet technique.

We dig the parquet technique.

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.

The total number of bottles is actually closer to 1.5 million.

The total number of bottles is actually closer to 1.5 million.

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.

Making art teachers and environmentalists proud.

Making art teachers and environmentalists proud.

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.

A senior monk's dwelling.

A senior monk’s dwelling.

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.


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How to get there
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.

Location map for Wat Lan Kuad (Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew)

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 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Si Saket.
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