As we discussed in our article “How Many Temples Does Thailand Have?” there are over 43,000 temples the Kingdom. This might lead you to wonder how hard it is to get approval to build a Thai temple? Well, as the 43K+ number suggests, it is not too difficult actually. So, if you have a nice plot of land, and want to go beyond the usual ways of making merit in Thailand by building a temple for your local monks, here are the basic construction rules and regulations.
A Buddhist temple to be built in Thailand must meet the following criteria:
(1) The land used for building the temple must have an area of not less than six rai (2.4 acres).
(2) The land must be suitable for the residence of monks and religious practice.
(3) The temple grounds must be beneficial to not less than one thousand local people.
(4) There must be reason to believe that after the temple is established, it will receive maintenance and promotion from the local Thai people.
(5) The temple must be located at a distance of not less than two kilometers from other Thai temples.
(6) The total amount of money that will be used in building the temple must be not less than two hundred thousand baht.
Temple building applicants may request an exemption from the criteria under (1), (3), or (5) by specifying reasons and necessity, as well as the benefits that local people will receive from building your temple.
The applicant must submit a request to build a temple to the Director of the Provincial Buddhism Office in the Thailand province where the land is located, along with the following documents, as follows:
(1) Letter showing land rights.
(2) Map showing the location of the place for which permission to build is requested. Brief description of the temple, the temple and nearby places and transportation routes.
(3) A map showing the area of land, buildings, and structures within the land on which the temple will be built.
The application for building a temple in Thailand can be downloaded at: Application for Building a Temple in Thailand.
Note that in Sakon Nakhon (like other areas) final approval of the application resides with the provincial governor, and that you won’t be building an official Royally-sanctioned temple at first, but what is referred to as a “samnak song” (สำนักสงฆ์) or Buddhist monastery. There are additional building hurdles to meet in order to be formally recognized as a temple.