Exploring the Big Buddha in Chiang Rai: A Guide to Thailand’s Iconic Landmark

Welcome to the land of the Big Buddha, Chiang Rai, one of the most popular destinations in Northern Thailand. The Big Buddha of Chiang Rai, also known as Wat Huay Pla Kung, is a magnificent temple complex located just 6 kilometers out of Chiang Rai city. The temple is home to an impressive 9-story pagoda and a towering Guan Yin statue, which is often mistaken for a Buddha statue due to its size.

The temple complex offers a serene and peaceful atmosphere that is perfect for meditation and reflection. Visitors can climb to the highest level of the pagoda for magnificent views over the city of Chiang Rai and its surroundings. The temple complex is surrounded by green hills, making it a great place to watch the sunset. A free shuttle bus from the car park takes visitors to the base of the Guan Yin statue.

Apart from the Big Buddha of Chiang Rai, the city has much to offer for tourists, including the famous White Temple, Black House, and the Night Bazaar. Visitors can also enjoy delicious Thai food and buy souvenirs at the food court and market. Public transport and taxis are readily available for those who want to explore further, including the Golden Triangle and the Elephant Sanctuary. Donations are always welcome at the temple complex, and visitors are encouraged to show respect to the monks and Buddhists who frequent the area.

History and Significance

The Big Buddha of Chiang Rai, also known as Wat Huay Pla Kang, is a relatively new addition to the city’s skyline. The temple was built in the early 21st century and is situated on a hill six kilometers outside of Chiang Rai town. The most prominent feature of the temple is the enormous white statue of Guanyin, the goddess of mercy, which stands at 90 meters tall and is visible from far away.

The temple was built with the support of the local Chinese community, and the statue of Guanyin was designed and built in China before being transported to Thailand. The construction of the temple was a massive undertaking, and it took several years to complete. The temple complex includes several buildings, including a prayer hall, a museum, and a restaurant.

The significance of the Big Buddha of Chiang Rai lies in its size and its location. The statue is one of the tallest in Thailand, and it is a symbol of the city’s growing importance as a tourist destination. The temple is also significant because it is located in an area of Northern Thailand that was once ruled by King Mengrai, the founder of the city of Chiang Rai.

The temple is also significant because it contains several golden chedis, which are traditional Buddhist stupas that contain relics of the Buddha. The chedis are decorated with intricate designs and are a testament to the skill of the craftsmen who built them.

Overall, the Big Buddha of Chiang Rai is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Northern Thailand. The temple is a symbol of the city’s cultural heritage and its growing importance as a tourist destination. Visitors can explore the temple complex, admire the statue of Guanyin, and learn about the history and significance of the temple and the area around it.

The Big Buddha Statue

The Big Buddha Statue at Wat Huay Pla Kung in Chiang Rai is a must-see attraction for any visitor to the area. This impressive statue stands at a height of 90 meters, making it one of the tallest Buddha statues in Thailand.


The statue is actually a representation of the Chinese goddess of mercy, Guan Yin, and is painted in white and gold. It is surrounded by green hills, creating a beautiful and serene atmosphere. Visitors can climb up to the top floor of the 9-tier pagoda to get a closer look at the statue and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

View from the Top

The view from the top of the pagoda is breathtaking, especially during sunset when the sky turns shades of orange and pink. Visitors can take an elevator to reach the top, but it is also possible to climb the stairs for a more challenging experience.

Surrounding Area

The surrounding area of Wat Huay Pla Kung is also worth exploring. The temple complex is a mix of Thai Lanna and Chinese styles, and visitors can admire the intricate details of the architecture. There is also a market selling local handicrafts and souvenirs, as well as a restaurant serving delicious Thai and Chinese cuisine.

In summary, the Big Buddha Statue at Wat Huay Pla Kung is a must-see attraction in Chiang Rai. Visitors can enjoy stunning views from the top of the pagoda, explore the surrounding area, and learn about Thai and Chinese culture. It is a great place to visit for anyone interested in history, culture, and spirituality.

The Temple Complex

Wat Huay Pla Kung, also known as the Big Buddha of Chiang Rai, is a temple complex that is home to an enormous white statue of Guanyin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy. The temple is located about 7 km west of Chiang Rai city center and is easily accessible by car or taxi.


The temple complex is a stunning example of contemporary Buddhist architecture. The main temple building is a large white structure with a sloping roof that is adorned with intricate carvings. The building is a blend of Lanna and Rattanakosin styles, and features beautiful murals depicting the life of the Buddha.


The murals inside the temple are some of the most impressive in Thailand. They were painted by Chalermchai Kositpipat, the same artist who created the famous White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai. The murals are a mix of traditional Buddhist themes and contemporary images, and are executed in a style that is both bold and colorful.

Guanyin Statue

The centerpiece of the temple complex is the 90-meter tall statue of Guanyin. The statue is made of white jade and is perched atop a large pedestal that is covered in lotus petals. To reach the statue, visitors must climb a flight of stairs that is flanked by two large Chinese dragons. From the top of the pedestal, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Visitors should be aware that shoes must be removed before entering the temple buildings, and that proper dress is required (knees and shoulders should be covered). The temple complex is a popular tourist destination, so visitors should expect crowds and plan accordingly.

Overall, Wat Huay Pla Kung is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Chiang Rai. Its stunning architecture, beautiful murals, and impressive Guanyin statue make it one of the most unique and memorable temples in Northern Thailand.

Getting There and Around

Chiang Rai’s Big Buddha is located about 15 kilometers west of the city center and can be reached by various means of transportation.

Public Transport

The most affordable way to get to the Big Buddha is by public transport. You can take a local bus from the old bus station in Chiang Rai city center to Mae Sai and ask to be dropped off at Wat Huay Pla Kang (Big Buddha). The bus ride takes around 30 minutes and costs around 20 baht.

Shuttle Bus

Another convenient option is to take a shuttle bus from the city center. Many hotels and guesthouses offer shuttle services to the Big Buddha, so check with your accommodation to see if they provide this service. The shuttle bus usually costs around 150 baht per person for a round-trip.

Car Park

If you prefer to drive, there is a car park available at the Big Buddha. The parking fee is 20 baht per car.


Joining a tour is a popular way to visit the Big Buddha and other nearby attractions such as the White Temple and Black House. Many tour operators in Chiang Rai offer half-day or full-day tours that include transportation, entrance fees, and a tour guide. The cost of the tour varies depending on the operator and the itinerary.


If you prefer a more private and flexible mode of transportation, you can hire a taxi to take you to the Big Buddha. Negotiate the price with the driver before getting in, and expect to pay around 500-600 baht for a round-trip from the city center.

No matter which mode of transportation you choose, be sure to bring plenty of water and wear comfortable shoes, as there are many stairs to climb to reach the Big Buddha.

Food and Souvenirs


Wat Huay Pla Kung has several food and snack stands on its grounds where visitors can try local delicacies. Some of the popular food items include:

  • Coconut ice cream
  • Sticky rice with mango
  • Grilled meats and seafood
  • Som tam (spicy papaya salad)
  • Fried chicken
  • Fresh fruit smoothies

The food is reasonably priced, and visitors can enjoy a meal while admiring the stunning views of the surrounding mountains.


Visitors can find a variety of souvenirs at Wat Huay Pla Kung, including:

  • Buddhist amulets and talismans
  • T-shirts and hats with temple logos
  • Handmade soaps and candles
  • Local handicrafts such as woven baskets and carved wooden figurines

There are also several shops selling religious items such as incense, prayer beads, and Buddha statues.

It is worth noting that visitors should be careful when purchasing souvenirs, as some items may be overpriced or of poor quality. It is always a good idea to compare prices and quality before making a purchase.

Overall, Wat Huay Pla Kung is an excellent place to sample local food and buy souvenirs to remember your trip to Chiang Rai.


Visiting the Big Buddha in Chiang Rai is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Northern Thailand. The temple complex is a beautiful blend of Thai Lanna and Chinese styles, and the 90-meter tall white statue of Guanyin is truly impressive.

Aside from the stunning architecture and artwork, Wat Huay Pla Kang offers visitors a chance to learn about Buddhist culture and history. The temple features a museum with exhibits on Buddhism, as well as a meditation center for those looking to deepen their spiritual practice.

When visiting Wat Huay Pla Kang, make sure to wear comfortable shoes, as the temple is located on a hill and requires some walking. Visitors can also take a cable car to the top of the hill for a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area.

Overall, the Big Buddha in Chiang Rai is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Northern Thailand. It offers a unique blend of culture, spirituality, and natural beauty that is sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors.