Southeast Asia is filled with beautiful temples, with their intricate carved or painted walls, shiny golden stupas and delicate architecture. But after visiting one after another, you may start to feel you want something new for a change. Why not visiting the unique one million bottle temple in Thailand? It’s a temple entirely made of bottles of beer and other drinks, that a group of creative thai monks made near Si Saket, on Isaan province near the border with Cambodia. Read the guide to finding different temples in Cambodia and Thailand!
As a way to decrease the construction costs and promote recycling in this rural region, they started to collect bottles from the nearby village and made not only the a temple but a full campus with different halls, houses for the monks and a crematorium. The walls, the ground and the roof are designed with different colored bottles, and even the mural behind Buddha in the main temple is made of bottle caps!
If you’re going south in Thailand and pass nearby Surat Thani, you can also visit the forest temple of Wat Suan Mokh (at around 600km south of Bangkok). It was started by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, a kind of national hero in Thailand that had the mission to get Buddhism back to its roots – less praying and more meditation. This temple is a good example of this intention, not having big Buddha statues for people come to pray but instead having many meditation halls scattered in a forest, accommodation for meditators and a library filled with philosophy books, both from the east and the west. In the first 10 days of each month they also give a vipassana course. Meditate, read some books on zen or from European thinkers, observe the exquisite iconography in the paintings that some of the pavilions have, chill in the nearby natural hot spring, or just walk in the woods to cultivate your mindfulness and peace of mind.
In case you are in Phnom Penh and a bit fed up with Buddhist temples, we have a different proposal for you. Have you heard about Cao Dai? It’s a religion that was born in 1926 in South Vietnam and has the unique feature of trying to mix different faiths from around the world, including Taoism and Confucianism, Buddhism and Christianity. The most interesting feature is the collection of personalities they choose as saints, not only oriental individuals but also people like Shakespeare, Muhammad, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, or the writer Victor Hugo!
Phnom Penh has a small temple of this religion, and finding it is already a kind of treasure hunt! Head to Mao Tse Tung Boulevard and, nearby the Intercontinental Hotel, try to spot an entrance of a narrow alley with a sign of an eye (the main symbol of Caodaism) or a small board written in Vietnamese language. Inside the alley you’ll find this simple but exquisite temple, definitely not a touristic sight in case you’re looking for more peculiar places! And you can try to strike a conversation with one of the local worshippers, he will probably be excited to tell you how the holy eye they love so much is even on the dollar notes 🙂
And with CamboTicket you can also book a trip to Ho Chi Minh and from there you’re a short trip from the main and original temple of this religion, the Holy See in Tây Ninh!