About 45 minutes from the White Temple in Chiang Rai is the Black House, a.k.a. Baandam Museum. Here, Thailand national artist Thawan Duchanee offers his sadistic interpretation of Hell. It stands in stark contrast to the heavenly visions depicted by his mentor, Charlermchai Kositpipat, over at Wat Rong Khun. A dozen broodingly dark structures—some resembling Buddhist stupas, others UFOs, submarines, or Norwegian stave churches—are filled with artfully arranged skulls, bones, and skins of elephants, buffalo, snakes, and crocodiles. (The remains, Duchanee claims, were all come by naturally.) The grounds feel spooky and mysterious—almost otherworldly. Yet this is an art museum and working studio, with Duchanee toiling away next door. Try to glimpse the artist’s private residence if you can; you’ll know it by the black swans milling about and trees hung with inverted umbrellas.
Moo 13, Tambon Nang Lee, Ban Dhu., Mueang Chiang Rai, Thailand; +66-53-776-333.