Longest wooden bridge in Thailand

This is a place that i never expected i would visit, not even known on most recommendations i see online. Prior to my Thai trip, i planed to explore some non-typical places to visit in Thailand, most of the travel blogs recommended the usual places, Chiang mai, Chiang rai, Tak, Issan. But none of which is within my reach… I came across a random blog that introduced to me this mystical town called Mon Village.

This village is situated at Sangkhlaburi District, next to Kachanaburi and 5 hours away from bangkok. Making the trip there is equally fascinating.

Going from Kachanaburi: There are two ways to go there, either by private van or public bus, depending on your budget and comfort. There is only one ticketing office for the private van, based in a shop house(dark translucent doors) opposite Kachanaburi bus terminal, asked around for direction, we couldn’t recognise the shop at all. At the office, one can immediately recognise the locals who is of Burmese descent as they have white face painting over their cheeks. I was surprise that there is only 2 tourists waiting for the bus, and 1 european guy who arrived late as the tickets are sold out fast.

We finally arrived after a long road trip, with a few stops along the way. It was a tough journey with some steep roads, lots of risky bends and a couple of police checks when nearing Sangkhlaburi (so get ready your identification/passport near you). But i enjoyed the long trip anyways, something that is impossible in Singapore.

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Daily night market selling Thai and Burmese snacks.. You can find 711 round the corner
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P. Guest House is the only place where you can rent a bike
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Halal vegetarian Samosa
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Impressive bridge built by the local community of Sanghklaburi.
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love the vibes of this place
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Check out the smiley face
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Beautiful night lights, cool and calming 
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Mon village
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woke up at 6am to see this
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floating bamboo bridge replacing the wooden bridge when it collapse in 2013.
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Man on his long boat
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away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok
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The practice of offering food is a Theravada Buddhist tradition, its their way of laity support for the Monk’s training.

One of the main activity at Sangkhlaburi is to observe/take part in the morning alms giving tradition. As early as 5 am, one will be able to see monks from the nearby monasteries walking along the street to receive alms. Here are some dos and don’ts for photographers who are not partaking in the ritual..

  • Always Keep a respectful distance, do not obstruct the laity or monks, use a long lens if you need.
  • Dress modestly: This is doubly important if you plan to participate in the almsgiving. Take off your shoes if you’re giving alms.
  • Never use your camera flash: It distracts the monks’ concentration from the spoils the solemnity of the ritual.
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They are probably the first in line to offer alms to the Monks, as their spot is quite a distance away from the main street where most devotees congregate
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I am as excited as they are…
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The most senior monk usually walks at the front
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offering of rice & flowers
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Giver and receiver… The monastics depend on the generosity of the lay community to sustain, therefore the monks accepts any food that is offered.
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The ritual is done in silence; the almsgivers do not speak, nor do the monks. Note the lady removes her shoe out of respect
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Beautiful sight, one that you can’t see in Singapore
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This lady devotee humbly wait for their arrival
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She prostrate before the monks when they are close, the sincerity of her offering(just rice) is far greater.
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what a sight to see, the saffron robes in contrast to the colourful clothes of the laity.

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Monks walk in meditation
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Sunrises over the Thai-Burmese border
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At 442 metres long, the wooden bridge is one of Sangkhlaburi signature sites
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Mile stone of Sangkhlaburi
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Traditional breakfast, you can opt for a meatless porridge. You can’t miss them as they are situated near the village entrance
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Traditional Myanmar textiles, local handicrafts and restaurants. Do buy something or eat here to support the mon community.
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Scenic view from the bridge
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Uttamanuson Bridge
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Village boy posing for you, do tip them if you can, it’ll help them in a way or another.
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There’s not much happening here, but you’ll likely receive smiles as you wander through the village.

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Mahabodhi-styled stupa
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Dharma Cakra

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Even the main Buddha is a replica of the Buddha in the Bodh Gaya Chapel

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Chedi Buddhakhaya
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Wat Wang Wiwekaram

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Three Pagoda Pass
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Over here you can get over to the burmese side if you have a visa.
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Memorial plaque of WWII Death Railway

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Cave visit

I really enjoyed this area and strongly recommend it to others looking for a Thai adventure just outside of Bangkok!

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Paaaataaayaaaaaa

I always wonder if Nasi Pattaya has anything to do with this place.. Anyone care to enlighten me?

Pattaya is one of the best beaches outside of bangkok, only a few hours away from the capital, it is one of the most accessible cities. Several long-distance buses depart from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mochit), the other being Southern Terminal (Ekamai).  Bus tickets in Thailand are relatively cheap and you’ll get to enjoy the scenery along the way.

Here are some pictures of my trip to Pattaya… Let the pictures do the talking.

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Entrance to the bus hub is guarded by security personnels.
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Don’t worry about getting lost
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The place is well organised and easy to navigate.
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Counter 48 near to the first floor exit is where you can purchase tickets to Pattaya
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This place is full of Thais and Tourists going to all destinations in Thailand.. as well as to Laos and Cambodia.
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Grab some snacks and drinks for your journey..
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Left baggage is private-run, use at your own risk.
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Cross over to the departure platform to board your bus.. Ask a local or the staff if you’re unsure where.

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I would say that the bus is well maintained and comfortable, comparable or even better than some Malaysian buses.
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Arrival at Pattay! Read the signboard carefully…
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…it isnt even air conditioned?
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Remember to check out the return timing to Bangkok, Mochit.
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There are also buses to Suvarnabhumi Airport
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The Bus that brought us here
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Lots of tuk tuk and taxi drivers waiting to ketok you, remember to bargain!
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took a motorbike and alight here
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Overall first impression of the beach is okay, it is a pretty touristy, long and narrow beach. Otherwise, really convenient to access from the nearby hotels.
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I wouldn’t mind spending one afternoon here just people watching and chill
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Good holiday vibes at Central Festival Pattaya
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Busy streets at night.
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This is where you can get cheap facial treatment, unfortunately this mall is almost due for redevelopment
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Typical bar scene in the red light district

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Spot our local brand
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again.. Spot our local brand

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Only in Thailand you get to see Ronald doing a wai and at his usual posture.
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Other than gogo bars, beer bars, this street is filled with seafood restaurants too.

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Muay Thai bar
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walking street pattaya
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Steps leading to Wat Phra Yai Temple

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18 metre tall Buddha
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Can’t help it but it does feel like Buddha is really please with his offerings
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Buddha Approves.. hahaha
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Beautiful sky, it was nearing sunset.
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View from Pratumnak Hill is really gorgeous
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Excellent view of Pattaya town and the gulf of Thailand
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Naval Monument with statue of  Thai Admiral Kromluang Chomphonkhetudomsak credited as the founder of the Royal Thai navy. Many Thais visit here to pray and make merits. You can also offer firecrackers as an utmost respect.
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Chance upon another temple at the hilltop, but i didn’t get the name of the temple. Let’s just name it the cat temple.
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Haven’t seen more cats in the same compound ever in my life.

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Spent like an hour here…

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Will i come back again? hmm probably yes for the cheap and worthy facial treatment at mike shopping centre. Not my kind of place (mainly caters to farangs who come for the sex industry), but i really enjoy the vibes and beautiful beaches.

The Beauty of Decay

Welcome to Thailand!

The comfort when seeing this few words upon reaching the Thai airports…

I was so excited about visiting Ayuthaya, because that would mean that i will have completed 2/3 of the ancient ruin cities in Thailand. Prior this trip, I did pretty much homework to decide whether to take a train, cruise or minivan from Bangkok to the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Transport is really convenient in Thailand, though there may not be sufficient information online for us to know how.

To begin with, my flight arrival time is midnight, so i had a night stay near Don Muang Airport, nevermind the location, because it was cheap, comfortable and within walkable distance of the terminals. All i need is a 711 and a couple of street vendors to deal with my midnight hunger pangs. *Tesco Express nearby was a bonus!

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Silence in the city
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Miss this familiar scene? 711 Dogs
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The  magic of Thailand’s 711 is its ability to satisfy our need for retail therapy even in the wee hours.
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Look at the variety of options, I don’t know 711 saved how many souls.. hungry ones included
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Bustling street beside FuturePark Rangsit
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Who wouldn’t enjoy some aircon in this tropical climate~
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Packs of dogs chilling outside the shopping mall
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woof what do you want
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Drying salted fish on the streets, wanna try some?

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Getting to Ayutthaya via Mini Van from Don Muang, Future Park Rangsit

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Pictures taken from Google

The van station taking you to Ayuthaya is located across the highway, one will need to cross the pedestrian bridge to reach the place. Do not be confused with the van terminal beside the shopping mall. The Van station looks like the picture above.

  • Cost:  Less than 100baht/pax, you would have to wait for the van to be filled up before the driver is willing to leave.
  • Duration: Journey takes about 30 – 40mins
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The van can take up to 14 people
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City Municipality Building, where your minivan will drop you off.
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Ayothaya Hotel

This hotel is recommended for no-frills stay, as the rooms are clean and inexpensive. It’s safe and beautifully quiet. The downside is that the lobby is huge & stuffy, not very conducive for tourist waiting to check in or coming back from their visits. This hotel is strategically located within walking distance from the minivan drop off point (municipal building), bicycle rental shop and many more.

Visiting the UNESCO sites of Buddhist temples, monasteries, and statues is definitely a must when you are in Ayuthaya. But one should really spare some time to explore the other parts of this ancient city. Located diagonally across the minivan drop off point is the Chao Phrom Market. Here you can get your lunch or check in to the hotels nearby to freshen up before starting your temple visits.

Chao Phrom Market

Chao Phrom Market is Ayutthaya fresh market, opened 7am-5pm, daily.  Its good to come here and experience the sight and smell. There is an abundance of cooked food, raw seafood and meats, more fruit and vegetables than you can imagine, and other captivating snacks.

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Chao Phrom Market
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Surprise to see a modern bakery in a traditional wet market
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Food vendor delivering or collecting bowls back from customers.
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The market is open throughout the day, but also depending on individual vendors.
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Locals can totally rely on this market for their groceries
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Check out the Thai-Chinese shop selling old school tidbits and household stuff.

Travel Tips

Depending on your desired time to spend here, It is still good to rent some form of transport to explore all the sites. One may hire a tuktuk driver to bring you to all the Temples. But if you are like me who is only interested in one or two temple, a bicycle would be sufficient to bring you from Ayuthaya Municipal Building > Wat Mahathat Compound > Bang Lan rd (Night Market) > Naresuan rd. A proper visit will take entire day, while a visit to a couple of sites takes 3-4hrs.

    • Pack less, carry light
    • Wear comfortable clothing, sunblock and bring water
    • Carry a map around, keep the phone batt for your photographs 😉
    • Respect the rules e.g. Not climbing over the stupas
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Maps are available in most touristy places, you should be able to find them at your hotel lobbies, or bicycle rental shops.

Wat Ratchaburana

Admission Fees. There is a fee of 50 Baht (1.30 USD) to enter the grounds of Wat Ratchaburana. The temple is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm every day.  Monies collected are use to fund the maintenance and preservation of these sites.

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Wat Ratchaburana

The UNESCO historic site of Wat Ratchaburana aka Monastery of the Royal Repairs is situated on the corner of Chikun road and Naresuan Road, directly opposite Wat Mahathat in the vicinity.

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View of the main prang
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Steps leading up to the phrang
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View inside the prang

There is a two level crypt inside the prang tower, you can reach there via a narrow (REALLY NARROW) and steep staircase. It is warm and stuffy inside, really not recommended for those who are claustrophobic.

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View of Lower Chamber
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Ancient murals i assume to be depicting Buddhist Stories?
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View of the Main Vihara

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Opps spotted!
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Woof!
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Simply impressive
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Wat Mahathat

Wat Mahathat

Admission Fees:  50 Baht to enter the grounds of Wat Mahathat. The temple is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm everyday

Just next door of Wat Ratchaburana is Wat Mahatat, a must visit site of Ayutthaya. One of the most photographed Buddha around the world is the Renown for the stone Buddha head entwined within the roots base of a tree.

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Seeing this is like a dream come true

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Spot some elephants grazing nearby

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Travel Resolutions of 2017

1. Bangkok, Thailand

I can feel the excitement overflowing as i’m typing this. You can never get tired of Bangkok, there is so much to do in Bangkok for every budget. Get a good pair of shoes for traveling, prepare to walk more than you do in Singapore.

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2. Taiwan

Speaking of Taiwan, somewhere that i have heard so much that it’s becoming a annoyance. I think majority of my friends have been to Taiwan, and being a Tzuchi Volunteer i am constantly surrounded by Taiwanese culture and connected in a way or another with this country. Our spiritual home is Hualien, where the organisation has being found.

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Dawn of Happiness

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UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Sukhothai Historical Park covers the ruins of the ancient Sukhothai city, literally known as”Dawn of Happiness”, capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom in the 13th and 14th centuries in what is now Northern Thailand.

The ruins are basically a complex of temples and the royal palace. The city walls form a rectangle about 2 km east-west by 1.6 km north-south. There are 193 ruins on 70 square kilometers of land.

The park is also a world heritage site and is maintain by the Fine Arts Department of Thailand with help from UNESCO.

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Wat Mahatat

Some simple guidelines that visitors should follow when visiting..

  • Do respect all Buddha images. Do not attempt to climb the chedis or sit on the Buddha’s lap
  • Dress appropriately, wear something comfortable and loose.
  • No fires or smoking are allowed.
  • Bring along a handheld fan, a cap and apply sunblock!
  • Hydrate when you need, carry a water bottle with you.
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Close up shot of the Main Buddha at Wat Mahatat

There will be numerous opportunity to take nice and creative shots. All you need is some patience and a handheld fan. The weather can be a real killer.

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Offerings left behind by devotees
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Bodhi Sapling
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A mailbox pinned on a tree?

You are strongly encourage to rent a bike to explore the park. Bicycle rental are available near the park entrance, at about 30-50baht until daybreak at around 1900hrs. Exploring by foot is still possible though.

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Wat Sa Si
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The vajra seat

FYI Facts: Buddha statues originally did not exist because Buddha discourage idol worship. In spite of that, after Buddha’s passing, his disciples instead erected thrones made of valuable stones to remember the Enlightened one and his teachings. Buddha images then started appearing in 1st century CE in North India.

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I can almost feel the serene atmosphere
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Wat Si Chum

There are plenty of amenities in the park; you can find toilets, restaurants and even a massage parlor in the park. Outside the park is a cluster of eateries, and many shops selling souvenirs. You would have pass by before entering the park.

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Impressive view of the Buddha at Wat Si Chum
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Wat Chana Songkhram
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Wat Chang Lom

Best time to visit would be in November during Loy Krathong. When people decorate the park with lights and released candles and lotus into water bodies.

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Wat Saphan Hin

How to get there

  • Sukhothai Historical Park is located about 12km from the new city.
  • From Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok Airways operates two direct flights to Sukhothai daily.
  • Opening Hours: 06:00 – 18:00 daily

Wat Yannawa, Bangkok

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Chinese wording translated as dragonboat temple

On the banks of the Chao Phraya river in Sathorn district is the Wat Yannawa. The Wat Yannawa aka known as “the boat temple” features the viharn built in the shape of a Chinese junk vessel, a 19th century sailing ship.

The Wat Yannawa is one of the older temples in Bangkok; it was built during the time of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, before the founding of the Rattanakosin Kingdom and the city of Bangkok. At that time the temple was called Wat Kok Khwai.

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Funny signboards at the temple ground.

The structure has a multi tiered roof with chofas in the shape of stylized naga decorating its roof edges. Other buildings on the temple grounds include a large meeting hall, several offices and libraries and the monks living quarters.

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Behind the boat shape viharn is the ubosot, the building where monks get ordained.

The King Nangklao had the boat like structure built to serve as a memorial to the Chinese junk vessels that were used intensively for trade with China and that had brought prosperity to the Kingdom.

The replica of a Chinese junk vessel is over 40 meters long and made from concrete. At the place where the masts should be are two white chedis or pagodas. In the back where the wheel house should be is a room containing a number of Buddha images where visitors can pay respect to the Buddha. The viharn is open to visitors; At the top of the stairs leading to the boat is a statue of King Nangklao.

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There is a relic exhibition of sages and monks here
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Lay congregation chanting in another hall
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Chinese wording translated as dragonboat temple
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a lay devotee meditating outside the ubosot
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Monks gathered for evening service
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Monks chanting in the ubosot

The boat temple is located in the Sathorn district of Bangkok on Charoen Krung road. It is found just around the corner (South) from BTS Sky Train station Saphan Taksin.

Address: 40 Charoen Krung Rd, Yan Nawa, Sathon, Bangkok 10120, Thailand