There are 33,000 traditional temples in Thailand. But with its majestic white exterior, Wat Rong Khun is anything but ordinary. Every part of Wat Rong Khun is unique.

The entrance is lined with ghoulish traffic cones, ghostly heads hang from trees, and arms reach up to meet you as you cross the bridge to this architecturally curious place of worship. Wat Rong Khun’s most distinguishing feature is its untraditional white color, chosen by the artist to represent purity. The sprinkling of glass mosaics are an emblem of enlightenment, while the mirrors show off Buddha’s wisdom shining through the universe.

Contrasting the white is a gold building. The ornate restroom is covered in gold leaf, symbolizing the idea of the mind’s fixation on wealth and material possessions. While the temple is visually stunning and attracts thousands of tourists from around the world, when it was first completed, it received negative attention.

 

The Thai government, monks, and other artists said it wasn’t Thai art, as it was a departure from the traditional due to the symbols embracing pop culture found throughout the grounds. Despite that, the building stands defiantly as an emblem of Thai art for a modern world.