Wat Lang Khao (วัดหลังเขา) is a rather remote and ordinary temple in most regards, but it attracts a trickle of visitors because of its bot khuat (“bottle ubosot”), arguably the most beautiful example of bottle temple art in Thailand.
Most of the ubosot’s decoration is typically Thai, but all the green on the walls and roof comes from 620ml Chang beer bottles. Locals gathered and donated tens of thousands of them, along with brown energy drink and beer bottles for the decorative veneer at several other spots on the temple grounds. Construction was completed in 2001 and it was recently restored to replace broken bottles. Some monks and locals said many of the bottles were smashed by monkeys, but this is dubious. There are monkeys living on the mountain, but they are shy and normally stay higher up the mountain away from people, only coming down to the temple in the hot season when natural food is scarce and during festivals when temple food is abundant.
There are no bottles inside, rather there are murals of the Buddha’s life story and, on one window shutter, a portrait of Luang Po Bua Phuean, the former abbot who chose to have a bottle building,
Luang Po Bua Phuean (aka Phra Kru Nithet Tamawut) was inspired to build it after visiting the “Million Bottle Temple” (Wat Lan Khuat), the original bottle temple, in Si Saket province. The current abbot said that Luang Po Bua Phuean particularly liked the recycling aspect of this style since it’s related to the Buddhist concept of rebirth.
The temple’s official name is Wat Phrom Nimit, but everyone calls it Wat Lang Khao, “The Temple Behind the Mountain,” because that’s where it is in relation to the nearby small town of Chong Khae, 2km by road.
Perched on a hill next to the bottle building is a large (it seems to be about 15m tall) Buddha image that you can walk up to. Down below it is a small, ordinary Buddha in the same Protected by the Naga Mucalinda posture, this one flanked by two ancient (surely Dvaravati era) bai sema and backed by a rock wall of almost chaotic bottle art.
Behind the ubosot is an unmaintained sculpture garden with several statues of Buddha, Himmapan creatures, and monkeys. Besides the cute concrete ones, you might meet the real ones at the top of the sculpture garden. Rain has washed away many of the paths here, but you can climb on rocks all the way to the tiger at the top.
On the south side of the sculpture garden, following the concrete steps (not the green tiled ones) is a small cave shrine with bottle art and a reclining Buddha.
Near the southwest corner of the ubosot is a smaller, tighter cave shrine leading down to two Buddha statues and a footprint. It has no decoration, glass or otherwise.
A nearby path, next to the big Phra Siwali and small ruesi statues, takes you to a disused cave shrine and a Budai statue in a freshly painted shrine.
South of the ubosot is a sala where Luang Po Bua Phuean’s mummified body (he died in 2005) is kept in a glass case. The Buddha shrine next to his coffin has bottle art. The door here is normally kept closed, so you’ll have to ask a monk to let you in.
Finally, at the temple’s west end is a deserted Chinese shrine with a Thai stupa above it.
Location – Tambon Phrom Nimit, Amphoe Takhli, Nakhon Sawan Province
Other names – Wat Phrom Nimit (วัดพรหมนิมิต), Wat Luang Po Phuean (วัดหลวงพ่อเผื่อน)