Eastern Thailand’s seldom-visited Isan Region is home to a number of quirky attractions, but even here, Wat Pa Maha Chedi near Si Saket is certainly one of the most unusual places you’ll come across. Covered in insane amounts of recycled beer bottles, the temple is unlike any other in the world.
Wat Lahn Kuat (Million Bottle Temple), as it’s also known by, was founded in 1984 by a group of Buddhist monks led by Abbot Luang Pu Buddha Isara and is located near the small town of Khun Han in Si Saket Province. Read on for everything to know about this wacky attraction.
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What is the story behind the Million Bottle Temple?
Ostensibly, the unique temple is the result of an abbot’s dream about a heavenly temple, covered in diamonds and other gemstones. He took this as a hint to recreate the building on earth and as gemstones probably were in short supply, he decided to use the next best thing: beer bottles.
More prosaic sources say that the monks at the temple were concerned about the increasing amounts of waste polluting the local environment, and wanted to find a way to encourage recycling and raise awareness about the issue. They began collecting discarded bottles from local communities and began decorating the buildings, until nearly all surfaces of the temple complex were covered in glass bottles.
When visiting the Million Bottle Temple, you will not only get a glimpse of the creativity and resourcefulness of the monks who built it, but also get a sense of the importance of environmental conservation and sustainable living.
Visiting the Million Bottle Temple
When exploring the temple complex, you will quickly realize that the name is far from an overstatement. Almost every surface of every building, inside and out, is covered in bottles, neatly arranged in recurrent patterns.
The walls, pillars and even the buttresses of the temple buildings are covered in brown Chang and green Heineken Beer Bottles. The overall effect is surprisingly beautiful, and I spent quite a while just admiring the artistry of the temple’s construction.
Apparently, the unique decoration also helps to insulate the temple’s interior from the heat of the sun. You will also notice that the temple is surprisingly cool, even on hot days, thanks to the insulating properties of the bottles.
On the grounds you will find a giant chedi, crematorium, scripture hall and big reclining Buddha, all decorated in the same way and if you look closely at some of the mosaics surrounding the Buddha images inside the buildings, you will realize that a lot of them are made of bottle caps.
When wandering the grounds, I was even more surprised by the fact that even the monk’s quarters continue the theme – talk about some real dedication to a design concept.0
How to get to the Million Bottle Temple
The Temple is located near the village of Khun Han in southern Si Saket Province. Getting there without your own set of wheels can be a bit challenging, as it is located in a rural area, but it is possible.
The nearest bigger town is Si Saket and while I was unsuccessful finding a place hiring scooters there, I managed to reach the Temple by public transport. There are infrequent buses running to Khun Han from Si Saket’s Main bus terminal, which is located about 1km/0.6mi.south of the train station.
Just ask around at the terminal and people will show you where the right buses leave. They take about an hour to reach Khun Han. Once there, the temple can be found to the West of the big roundabout at the southern end of town (near the northern edge of the Nong Si Reservoir).
Where to go next
Prasat Phimai, One of the Biggest Khmer Temples in Thailand
Nakhon Ratchasima aka. Khorat, the Gateway to the Isan Region