The beauty of travel is that no matter how many times you’ve been to a destination there are always new experiences waiting to be enjoyed. Although I’ve visited Udon Thani a number of times before, on my recent trip I had the chance to see an unusual temple that I didn’t know about. Designed to look like a lotus flower sitting on the water, Wat Pa Dong Rai (also known as Santiwanaram Temple) is a delightful location to visit.
The 19-meter high lotus flower temple is a recent addition to the list of Udon Thani attractions with construction work completed in early 2019. The other temple buildings here date back longer and more work is scheduled to expand the grounds and make it even more attractive to visitors.
Lotus flowers in Buddhism
In Buddhism, the white lotus flower symbolises purity. The lotus flower has its roots in the mud, but the stem and leaves rise above the water leaving the impurities behind them. This is also symbolic of rising above desire and attachment.
Protective nagas guard the front of the bridge which extends out into the lake and provides a striking approach to the elegant white lotus temple.
The inside of the temple is beautifully designed with large glass windows appearing as lotus petals. The walls are filled with colourful murals depicting the lives of Buddha and the ceiling is a stunning golden-coloured dome. At the front of the hall, a simple white Buddha image provides the focal point for devotees.
When visiting Wat Pa Dong Rai, remove your shoes before stepping on the bridge that leads to the temple and please cover knees and shoulders. Although entrance is free, the temple does rely on visitor donations.
How to get to Wat Pa Dong Rai
Wat Pa Dong Rai (Santiwanaram Temple) is located 60km east of Udon Thani city. If you are in this area don’t miss the chance to visit the nearby village of Ban Chiang (8km south of the temple). The delightful Ban Chiang Community and the excellent Ban Chiang National Museum are both highly recommended for anybody interested in Thai history and culture.
Although it’s possible to get to Ban Chiang by public transport, the journey isn’t straightforward. If you are also planning to visit the lotus flower temple, it is more convenient to book a taxi in Udon Thani. Expect to pay at least 1,500 Baht for the return trip and waiting time for the driver. If you use the Grab app, cars/taxis are also available in Udon Thani with the one-way fare to Ban Chiang approximately 600 Baht.