In the east of Ubon Ratchathani, on the Laos border is this glow in the dark temple called Wat Sirindhorn Wararam (วัดสิรินธรวรารามภูพร้าว). When the sun goes down, parts of the floor and the back wall light up due to the fluorescent paint that is used.
It’s a cool concept, but the idea is better than reality. It is nowhere near as good in person as it is in the pictures. It’s a big tourist attraction but the good news is, it’s free to enter and there are some pretty amazing views overlooking Laos and the Mekong river.
What is at the temple?
There is a free carpark with clean toilets available. Just in front of these is a viewing platform, where you can see the front of the temple and a nice view of the valley below.
At the bottom of the steps leading up to the temple, there are some popular TV characters carved into the stone, including Batman, minions and a Pokemon ball, amongst others. I’m not really sure why they were there but it was kind of quirky. There are also two angel statues. Head up the stairs and into the temple, where there is a Buddha statue. Make sure to take off your shoes before entering. People will come here to pray and make a donation.
Over to the left of the temple, there are some golden balls where Buddhist will pray and stick on a small golden sticker to add to the collection. Next to this is a room displaying some creative and detailed paintings, some of which also glow in the dark.
Head behind the temple to see the main attraction. A circular pattern on the floor will light up as well as a ‘tree of life’ on the back wall.
A good spot for photographers
It can get very busy at the temple but we didn’t see many other foreigners. It was mainly Thais and Laos people who were visiting out of interest or to add to their photography collection. We got there about 5.30 p.m when it was still light and there was already a row of tripods set up waiting in the corner.
The problem is that a lot of people are taking photos on their phones using the flash. You will see photographers slowly getting more frustrated as they set up their camera and wait for one or two minutes, only for the shot to be ruined from someone’s mobile. If you visit without a proper camera, please be considerate and don’t use flash photography or shine your torch at the wall when people are trying to take photos. The flash is going to give you a worse picture anyway.
Who is this temple for?
This is mainly a good opportunity for photographers to practice their skills. There are already so many great photos out there to get some inspiration from.
What will you need to bring?
- A Camera
- A tripod
- Mosquito repellent
- A lot of patience
Chong Mek Town
The town that sits below Wat Sirindhorn Wararam is called Chong Mek that has a border control going into Laos. We didn’t really find much else to do in this town. There were a couple of coffee shops but we only found one with air conditioning.
This can be a good place to come and do a border run or to just continue your travels into a new country.
How to get to Sirindhorn Wararam temple
From Ubon Ratchathani city center, there will be buses that stop off in Chong Mek on the way into Laos. You could also hire a car or motorbike to explore the province. We visited here as part of an Isaan road trip. We drove down after checking out Sam Phan Bok (สามพันโบก) in the north. This is definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in Ubon Ratchathani in the dry season.
Here is the GPS location for Wat Sirindhorn Wararam.