A Short Guide to the Black House (Baan Dam) of Chiang Rai
Okay, so first things first. This slightly strange attraction of Chiang Rai appears to masquerade under a few different names. The Black House of Chiang Rai, the Baan Dam Museum or sometimes even the Black Temple. So call it what you like, but we’re just talking about just one place here.Mysterious names aside, the Black House is basically a collection of buildings set in peaceful gardens that house and present the artwork of Thawan Duchanee. The exhibition showcases Duchanee’s own interpretation of Buddha’s philosophy and in particular the suffering and death that Budda saw on his travels. This idea in particular is represented through the collections of bones and animal skins found throughout the museum.Whether you find this notion intriguing or a little controversial (you wouldn’t be the first), the Black House is certainly somewhere you don’t want to miss off the list when you’re in Chiang Rai. To help you plan your visit, my short guide below will tell you everything you need to know about visiting the Black House of Chiang Rai including how to get there, top tips for visiting, to how to get back to Chiang Rai afterwards.
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How to get to the Black House from Chiang Rai
The easiest and cheapest way to get to the Black House from Chiang Rai is by local bus. Buses leave regularly from the old bus station in the town centre. There will usually be signs for the Black House next to the right bus stop, but if there isn’t then just ask one of the friendly tuk tuk drivers who are waiting at the bus station and they will direct you to the right place. Tickets cost 20 TBH (£0.50, $0.60) one way, the journey takes no more than 30 minutes and the bus conductor will helpfully tell you when you should get off. Once off the bus, follow the signs up the dirt path to your left for the Baan Dam museum for around 700 m and you’ll reach the entrance.
(Look out for these Buddhist Stupas whilst you’re there, you can even go inside them!)
Opening times and entrance fee costs
The Black House is open from 9 am – 5 pm daily, and the entrance fee is 80 TBH (£1.90, $2.50) per person. Check out the Trip Advisor reviews here.
(You can see where it got the name Black House, all the buildings here are painted in very dark colours)
Tips for visiting the Black House
Firstly remember this isn’t actually temple despite one of its names, so there’s no need to cover your knees and shoulders when visiting.As there’s quite a lot of exhibitions within the museum grounds to explore, you will need at least 1 hour to look around it all properly.The crowds here rival the White Temple, so if you want to beat the crowds its best to go either first thing or an hour before the museum closes.If you do decide to go during the middle of the day, be aware that most of the exhibits are outside and there isn’t much shade, so make sure to pack your suncream and plenty of water to stay hydrated.
(Make sure to look for this strange collection of giant children’s rocking horses and see-saws)
How to get from the Black House to Chiang Rai
Getting back from the Black House to Chiang Rai is a little more tricky than getting there, but still relatively easy. The best thing to do is to walk back to the main road and cross to the other side where you can either wait for the next bus or flag down one of the blue songthaews (van taxi) to take you back to town. But don’t pay more than 20 TBH (£0.50, $0.60) per person! We flagged down a different bus in the end and only got charged 15 TBH for a ride back to town which was the cheapest bus fare we experienced in Chiang Rai!
(The main temples)
Hopefully, my short guide has answered any questions you may have about visiting the Black House of Chiang Rai. It really is a one of a kind place and definitely has something for everyone to appreciate whether it’s the architecture of the exhibits, the meaning behind the work or just the experience of something a little more alternative. Let me know what you thought in the comments!
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