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Wat Huay Sai Khao

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Another entry into Chiang Rai’s highly unusual temple category is Phan district’s incredible Wat Huay Sai Khao.

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This isn’t a white temple, powder blue one, or even a black house but an astonishing multi-coloured Disney-esque affair. We came across it completely by accident and even most locals in Chiang Rai didn’t seem to know of its existence, so you certainly won’t see many foreign visitors there. However, lying just 20 kilometres or so south of Wat Rong Khun it’s conveniently placed to be added to an excursion to the better-known destination.

An atypical wat. Photo taken in or around Wat Huay Sai Khao, Chiang Rai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

An atypical wat. Photo: Mark Ord

If Disneyland added a Buddhist temple it would look like this, but Wat Huay Sai Khao is a functioning religious site, with visiting school parties adding to an overall “Buddhism can be fun” kind of atmosphere. All the vivid stupas and shrines have full public access and local kids seemed to be having a great time running around and playing hide and seek on the various staircases, different levels, viewing points and corridors under the watchful eyes of smiling teachers and grinning monks. Without intending to be sacrilegious there’s a definite playground feel here though we reckon that’s intentional.

It’s all rather new so the entire colour pallet, covering the fantastical range of stupas, chedis, shrines and halls, is bright, sharp and clean. The various sculptures liberally dotted around—while very modern—did seem generally orthodox at least in subject if not execution.

You get the idea right? Photo taken in or around Wat Huay Sai Khao, Chiang Rai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

You get the idea right? Photo: Mark Ord

The temple complex covers only a small area but with a huge amount of content squeezed into the grounds. There’s what appears to be an original main worshipping hall, classic in design and housing a seated Buddha image around which are crammed the results of the current abbot’s serious blood rush. We reckon it’s all too much fun and way too impressive to be tritely described as kitsch and the grins on both the kids’ and monks’ faces were wonderful ... Travelfish members only (Around 400 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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How to get there
Wat Huay Sai Khao is roughly 22 kilometres south of Wat Rong Khun on Highway 1 so a bit short of 40 in total from Chiang Rai. The temple is on the west side of the highway, the hot springs on the east and Phan Town another 10 or so south. Inter-city, Phayao or Lampang buses or local Phan-bound transport from Chiang Rai will drop you and pick you up right outside the temple so you don’t even need to hire transport.

Wat Huay Sai Khao
Highway 1, Phan District
Mo–Su: 08:00–18:00
Admission: By donation

Location map for Wat Huay Sai Khao

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What next?

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