Wat Huay Pla Kang, the Temple of Mercy
Table of Contents
The Temple of Mercy: introduction
Wat Huay Pla Kang (วัดห้วยปลากั้ง) is in Chiang Rai, north of the Kok River. It is easy to find as the immense statue of Kuan Im, the Goddess of Mercy, dominates the landscape. It is one of my favorite temples in Chiang Rai because it is a center of social welfare.
The story goes that there was an old temple at this location. A monk, called Phop Chok Tissuwaso, chose this place and founded a new temple. He constructed the first building in 2007. This is the 49-meter high Phop Chok Dhamma Chedi. The design of this pagoda shows influences from Thailand, China, and Europe. It’s a building unlike any other in Chiang Rai.
The White Viharn
Between the giant statue of Kuan Im and the Phop Chok Dhamma Chedi is the white Thai style viharn. The interior of the viharn is also white and houses, you guessed it right, a white Buddha image.
Kuan Im, the Goddess of Mercy
The most striking structure of Wat Huay Pla Kang is the immense statue of Kuan Im, the Goddess of Mercy. It is visible from afar. A naga staircase leads to the entrance of this impressive building. You can take the elevator to the 25th floor inside the building. You end up in a small space decorated with statues and trees, all in white. Then you can take a narrow staircase to the 26th floor from where you can enjoy the view through small windows.
Spiritual Wat Huay Pla Kang
This temple has a very special atmosphere. It is unlike any other temple I know in North Thailand. Wat Huay Pla Kang has a fantastic location and some spectacular structures and I felt totally at ease. It is maybe the soothing music that is with you everywhere you go. There is an inherent beauty in this place, that is hard to put into words. I just felt a lot better when I went back to my hotel.
I took the elevator to the 25th floor and enjoyed the scenery. It was a beautiful day. Twice I walked up the nine floors of the pagoda and enjoyed the view from there. On the ground floor is a sandalwood statue of Kuan Im, the Goddess of Mercy. “Chow Mae Kuan Im” (เจ้าแม่กวนอิม) the Thai people call her respectfully: Goddess Kuan Im. On every floor, there are more, beautiful carved wooden statues of Buddhas, monks, and gods. On the ground floor, I donated a bag of rice and placed it at the foot of the statue of the Goddess of Mercy. Staff told me that the temple takes care of 543 orphans.
The temple of Mercy
I visited Huay Pla Kang three times during my last Chiang Rai trip. I noticed the orphans and abandoned children. Boys were playing on the grass next to the pagoda, girls were helping in the open kitchen of the small restaurant. I suppose most of these children are from hilltribe villages in the mountains of Chiang Rai province. I enjoyed a delicious meal for only 20THB and observed life at this temple.
The temple is expanding
I don’t know how big the property of Wat Huay Pla Kang is but there is construction going on at several places. Next to the spacious parking lot, they are constructing a hospital. At the moment there is a small clinic with a sign saying that medical care is free. Further down the entrance road, they are building something. Phra Ajaan Phop Chok is not finished yet with his humanitarian mission, it seems.
Wat Huay Pla Kang is indeed a temple unlike any other in Chiang Rai and North Thailand.
My most recent visit in June 2022
There were quite a few developments I noticed during my last visit to the temple. I rode my bicycle in the morning to enjoy the quietness of the temple. Later on that day I drove my car to observe the new developments. The old small restaurant has been demolished and replaced by a much more comfortable restaurant. You can still enjoy a meal for only 20THB. The construction of the hospital has progressed a lot. Once finished, it will offer free medical treatment for a lot of illnesses to local people.
The temple raises funds by offering free car wash to all vehicles parked at the temple. A donation though is expected. I had never seen this kind of fundraising before. This temple never ceases to amaze me.
Some facts about Wat Huay Pla Kang
To get to the temple just cross the Kok River via the Mae Fah Luang bridge and continue until you reach the traffic lights of the new 131 bypass road. Turn right and you will see Wat Huay Pla Kang on your left hand. Just follow the signs.
The temple is open from 0700 until 2130. There is no entrance fee. You will have to pay for the elevator in the Chao Mae Kuan Im statue: 40THB per person for foreigners, 20TH per person for Thai nationals.
There is a coffee shop and a small restaurant where they serve simple but delicious meals for only 20THB per plate.
You can donate in kind in the pagoda and in the Kuan Im building: you can buy sacks of rice or a shirt for 100THB for the orphans.
Please dress respectfully.
References for this article
I visited Huay Pla Kang several times over the years. At first I thought this was merely a tourist attraction but it is much more than that. It has a merciful and spiritual mission, which is wonderful. Besides that it is a place of beauty.
I found a lot of information on the Facebook page of the temple.