TheLoneRider
a nomad in search of Easter Eggs
Chiang Rai, Thailand

Visiting the Black House of Chiang Rai Nov 26, 2019

Visiting the Black House of Chiang Rai

Location: Black House (Baandam Museum), 414 Moo 13 Nanglae, Muang, Chiang Rai, 57100 Thailand
Hours: 09:00-17:00
Admission: B80
Website: thawan-duchanee.com
Tel: (66) 53705.834, (66) 53776.333, (66) 81673.1155

What is Black House?
Black House is a dark-themed museum consisting of numerous black building structures in a sizable land area. On display are a sprinkling of animal bones, skins, rock gardens, wooden carvings and interesting architecture. Given Thai culture steeped in Buddhism, Black House even comes across as iconoclastic if not blasphemous. It is certainly a departure from any typical Thai experience. With its expansive grounds, cafe, merchandising, greenery and trees, it felt like being in a park. But given its rock garden amid black foreboding structures filled with skulls, bones and skins, it also feels like being at a secret ritual site.

Visiting the Black House of Chiang Rai
cattle skull installation on house posts

Thawan DuchaneeThawan Duchanee Thailand
Baandam Museum (Black House)
Black House is the vision of Thai National Artist, Thawan Duchanee, who passed on September 3, 2014. He was 75 years old. He was a painter, architect and sculptor who exercised all of that to manifest his living creation - Black House. A graduate of Silpakorn University, he already displayed a prodigious gift for the arts as a child.

Ending Thoughts
Is this a novelty? deep art where only people with a taste for the macabre can appreciate? or this is simply a hodge-podge of animal bones and skins clustered together in a noire theme? It is certainly worth a visit if you are already in Chiang Rai. I'm more interested in how the genteel Thai culture has taken to this. It's an interesting diversion from all the temple tours, but not really a "wow" factor for me. I think part of its appeal is its name. With the runaway popularity of the White Temple, how could you not be interested in checking out this "Black House"? Would it enjoy the same traffic if otherwise named, "Thawan Duchanee House"? And if the Black House is indeed appealing for its color theme, hold on to your seat 'coz another temple joined the rainbow bandwagon - Blue Temple.

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
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bus trip   Getting to Black House from Chiang Rai proper: Even though it's 12 kms north of Chiang Rai, it's easy to get there. No need to hire an expensive tuktuk or book a packaged tour. Just board any local bus going north to Mae Sai or Chang Saen and tell the driver to drop you off Baan Dam - maybe you only pay B10. It's about a 10-minute walk from the main highway.

Chiang Rai's Colorful Temples

  1. Visiting the Blue Temple Nov 27, 2019
  2. Visiting the Black House of Chiang Rai Nov 26, 2019
  3. Visiting the White Temple of Chiang Rai (Wat Rong Khun) May 15, 2016


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Next stop: Visiting the Blue Temple


Chiang Rai FYI / Tips

How to Get to Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai being a big city, nearly all cities and towns connect to it by bus or plane (no trains though).

  1. if you are dropped-off at the Bus Terminal 2 Station (the new one), you need to take a blue songthaew to the old Bus Station (B15) which is in the heart of the city. If you checked-in near the Clock Tower, chances are, you can just walk it from the old bus station to your hotel. Otherwise, you may have to ride another blue songthaew from the old bus station to your hotel. If you take the tuk-tuk from the new Bus Station, you may be charged something like B170 to be taken to a hotel not walking distance from the old bus station

Things to do, Places to go in Chiang Rai

  1. Wat Rong Khun - Blue Temple - opened to the public in 2016 after being in disrepair for years, this is the latest color-themed incarnation of Chiang Rai's temple renaissance
  2. Wat Rong Khun - The White Temple - designed by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the construction commenced in 1997 with 2070 estimated completion date. This is probably Chiang Rai's most visited tourist attraction
  3. Baan Dam - Black House Museum - a macabre repertoire of Thawan Duchanee, a Chiang Rai artist who expresses his art around the dark side of humanity. 9am - 5pm w/ 12-1pm siesta, free
  4. Night Bazaar - a night market on foot for clothes, food and tourist merchandise. 2 sound stages for cultural shows and live music. One stage is in Thai while the other stage seems for tourists - cultural dance, English music, etc. Big open spaces for eating and drinking, open until about 11pm
  5. Saturday Night Walking Street - similar to Night Bazaar with its food stalls and merchandising, but the stalls are lined up on the streets
  6. Clock Tower - this is an iconic landmark in the heart of Chiang Rai where most of the tourist hotels, restos and recreation areas are clustered. Minor audio and light display at 7,8 and 9pm
  7. Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) - this is the original spot where the Emerald Buddha was first discovered in 1434 when lightning hit a chedi and revealed the Buddha within. The original Buddha has been moved to several locations through its history and finally rests in Bangkok. What resides in Chiang Rai is a jade replica
  8. Singha Park - almost 13km2 in size and 450m elevation, the park houses an assortment of entertaining and recreational facilities - rock climbing, zip lining, view point scenery, tour of tea plantation, bike tours, animal park, etc.
  9. Mae Fah Luang Art and Culture Park - B200 fee, opens 8:30am. Great garden, natural setting, abundant Teak wood carvings on display, quiet, gallery, museum pieces, etc.

Chiang Rai Cost Index

backpacker places (US$1 = Thai Baht 34.89 = Php 46.95 as of May 3, 2016)

Chiang Rai Blogs by TheLoneRider

  1. Visiting the Blue Temple Nov 27, 2019
  2. Visiting the Black House of Chiang Rai Nov 26, 2019
  3. Revisiting Chiang Rai Nov 26-28, 2019
  4. Exploring Chiang Rai, Thailand May 11-16, 2016
  5. Visiting the White Temple of Chiang Rai (Wat Rong Khun) May 15, 2016

Travel Tips for Thailand

How to Get a 60-Day Thai Tourist Visa and then Extend by another 30 Days

    60-Day Thai Tourist Visa

    NOTE: There is no need to go back to your country to get the Thai tourist visa. Any major city with a Thai Embassy will do. Apparently there is also no need to have an invitation from a Thai establishment to justify the visa.

  1. Bring the following to the Thai embassy:
    a) proof of money (bank statement will suffice)
    b) flight booking to Thailand
    c) onward flight back to your country from Thailand
    d) filled-in tourist visa form
    e) 2 passport pictures
    f) hotel booking in Thailand (they didn't ask me for this but better be safe)
    g) passport with at least 6 months validity
  2. After handing over all the documents, they will ask you to come pick your passport with the visa the following day from 4 to 5pm. That's it!
  3. NOTE: after 2 successful attempts, I was already questioned the 3rd time.

    30-Day Extension

    NOTE: When your 60-day visa is close to expiry and you want to extend your stay. No need to leave Thailand.

  1. bring the following to the Immigration Office:
    a) passport (make sure your Tourist Visa hasn't expired yet)
    b) Baht 1900
    c) photocopy of your passport + visa duration date stamp + TM6 card (white immigration card) and sign all the copies
    d) completed TM7 visa extension form (available at the Immigration Office)
    e) one 4cmx6cm passport picture
  2. submit the above to the Front Desk. They will give you a stub with your number on it. Take a seat and wait for your number to be called
  3. when your number is called, your picture will be taken. Then go back to your seat. They will call you again.
  4. when they call you again, they'll give you your passport with your extended visa. That's it!
  5. when there are no lines, the whole process can take only 10 minutes
General Travel Tips
  1. arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
  2. put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the journey...you just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
  3. avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
  4. power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!

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