Wat Ban Rai, The Thai Elephant Temple

Wat Ban Rai, the Elephant Temple is located in the Dan Khun Tod district of Nakhon Ratchasima, Korat, Thailand, about three hours from Bangkok, depending on road and traffic conditions.
The temple designed by local artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. It is Asia’s largest ceramic mosaic shrine and was hand-made by the Thai people using more than 20 million pieces of mosaic. Construction began in 1997, and although the main structure was completed by the time I visited in 2013, the grounds are not expected to be finished for a few years. As the grounds and surrounding area are built out, I expect there will be amenities such as restaurants and possible lodging, but in 2013 no dining was available, save for several fast-food stands. The most comfortable place to spend the night would be in Nakhon Ratchasima, however, we opted to simply travel the three hours by car, back to my home in Nakhon Nayok, so I can’t review any lodging accommodations.

I have visited the temple several times. The best time for photography is late afternoon, sunset, and in the evening when the lights are on. Before sunrise would also be nice, but the sun rises in a difficult position photographically, in my opinion. A moderately wide-angle lens was used to capture the temple as in the above image. I used a 24mm lens at f3.5, ISO 800 with a shutter speed of 1/15, so a tripod was a must. Late afternoon also gives enough light to capture the very colorful temple detail.
Since the temple is new construction the color of the details and statues is spectacular. The interior is nice but was rather bare at the time I visited. I’m sure more will be added as time goes on.I would rate the temple as a must-see if you are in the area, or a pleasant excursion if you are planning an extended visit to Thailand.

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