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Baan Dam

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Another of Chiang Rai’s more extraordinary sites, in a town that’s blessed with several rather eccentric attractions, is the highly unusual Baan Dam.

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Commonly known as the Black House it’s a park containing a diverse and sprawling series of buildings, displays, sculptures and installations, lying in Ban Du district a short hop north of town. The park and highly eclectic contents are the life’s work of local and nationally renowned artist Thawan Duchanee.

Not a Hobbit in sight. Photo taken in or around Baan Dam, Chiang Rai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Not a Hobbit in sight. Photo: Mark Ord

Despite occasionally, and mistakenly, called the “Black Temple” this is not a religious site and the themes are apparently more general commentaries on the human condition rather than Buddhist, or even unorthodox Buddhist, as per the White Temple. While bewildered, or to put it bluntly gob-smacked, tourists wander around trying to make head or tail of it all, according to those that know far more we do on the subject, the intention is to represent the darkness inside man!

It certainly is very dark—not just in the colour of the black, aged teak constructions that give the site its name—but clearly in atmosphere as well and the principal aesthetic signature is dead animal parts. Most buildings, regardless of whatever else they may display, are decorated with cow and buffalo skulls and horns though you’ll also see elephant bones and tusks, what looked like an entire whale skeleton, plus tables and chairs clad in bear or leopard pelts. (These grim objects were of course collected, not created, by ... Travelfish members only (Around 600 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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How to get there
To reach Baan Dam by your own means, head north out of town on route 1 past the airport and university. After passing the large Ban Dun market on your left look out for signs on the same side. It’s about 500m down a windy residential lane. For public transport access then take either a north heading buses from bus terminal 1—Mae Sai ones for example—or a Mae Chan-bound songthaew from the station behind the market on Uttarakit. Either will drop you off or pick you up at the entrance to the lane leading to Ban Dam from where you have around a 500-metre walk. Both means of transport costs 20 baht each way and drivers will have a pretty good idea of where you want to get off even if they don’t speak any English.

Baan Dam
414 Moo 13, Ban Du district, north of Chiang Rai
Mo–Su: 09:00–17:00
T: (089) 767 4444, (053) 705 834 
http://www.thawan-duchanee.com/
Admission: 80 baht

Location map for Baan Dam

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Chiang Rai.
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