Phang Nga is one of the southern provinces of Thailand, and it is located on the coast of the Andaman Sea. It lies on the west side of the Malay Peninsula, and the islands in Phang Nga Bay are considered part of it. The province is divided into eight districts. From north to south, they are: Mueang Phang Nga, Ko Yao, Kapong or Kampung, Takua Thung, Takua Pa, Khura Buri, Thap Put, and Thai Mueang.
Phang Nga is also the name of the provincial capital which is located in Mueang Phang Nga.
Temples in Phang Nga Province
Six of the most popular temples within Phang Nga province.
- Wat Suwan Khuha
- Wat Rat Upatham (Wat Bang Riang)
- Wat Tham Ta Pan
- Dragon Cave Temple
- Wat Lak Kaen
- Wat Manee Si Mahathat
Wat Suwan Khuha
Wat Suwan Khuha is known to locals as “Wat Tham” or “temple cave,” for this temple was indeed built into a karst or limestone mountain in Takua Thung. There are several caves inside. The biggest and lowest cave, known as “Tham Yai” or “Big Cave,” serves as the entrance to the temple. It is 40 metres long and 20 metres wide. It also houses one of the temple’s main attractions: a golden reclining Buddha that is 15 metres long. There are several smaller standing and sitting Buddhas across from the reclining Buddha.
The entrance to the cave is a colourful gate depicting Buddha and several other figures. While there is a parking lot nearby, wise visitors will not park too close to the gate, because the monkeys that live nearby can be destructive. The temple is also home to several cats, and monks will meditate in front of the reclining Buddha.
Wat Suwan Khuha is just off of Route 4, and it is about twelve miles south of Phang Nga town. The temple can be reached by bus, songthaew, and tuk-tuk.
Wat Rat Upatham
Also known as Wat Bang Riang, it’s a temple on Khao Lan Mountain in the Thap Put district. It contains Chedi Phutthathambanlue, which is a bell-shaped chedi or pagoda overlooking the surrounding hills and mountains as well as a statue of the Chinese goddess Guan-yin and a huge statue of Buddha that depicts him sitting under Naga, a seven-headed serpent. Wat Rat Uppatham is also the largest temple in the Phang Nga province.
The chedi is 109 metres tall, making it the largest in Phang Nga, and is said to contain sacred relics of the Buddha. Its base has several golden Buddhas carved into niches. Guan-yin is a bodhisattva or person capable of attaining perfect enlightenment, and she is associated with mercy and compassion. She is thus often called the “Goddess of Mercy” and is said to bring good luck. Guan-yin’s statue overlooks a courtyard with a pool.
The interior of the temple is lavishly decorated with multiple statues of Buddha, carvings of monkeys, and paintings. The walls are covered with red, blue and yellow-orange ornamentation.
The temple’s formal name, Wat Rat Uppatham, means “the temple that is supported by locals.” It was established by the abbot Lung Por Chai, who came to the area roughly 30 years ago. Some of the locals asked for his help with a funeral, as there were no temples in the area. As the years went by, he added more structures and statues to the temple to make it more attractive and interesting to visitors.
Wat Tham Ta Pan
Located in Phang Na town, Wat Tham Ta Pan is sometimes called “the heaven and hell temple,” for it has an exhibit that depicts the Buddhist ideas of heaven and hell. At the entrance is a fountain with statues of five monks. They each hold a bowl representing beauty, cleverness, happiness, health or wealth. According to tradition, if you succeed in tossing a coin into a bowl you will get the associated desire.
The temple grounds are home to several buildings, including a snack shop. Behind the buildings is a lovely garden filled with statues of animals. Beyond the garden is a cliff where sculptures and other representations of Hindu deities like Ganesha and Akhilandeshvari stand.
Next to the snack shop stands a large, open-mouthed dragon that is actually a tunnel leading into a cave that contains Buddha statues that represent heaven. The cave’s exit leads to an outdoor area filled with statues of sinners being tortured in hell. As can be guessed, this exhibit is not recommended for children.
Wat Tham Ta Pan can be explored on one’s own or with a native guide who can explain the finer points of the religious personages and concepts depicted. It is near the intersection of Montri Alley and Thamtapan Alley.
Dragon Cave Temple
Like Wat Suwan Khuha, the Dragon Cave Temple is a temple in a cave. It is located in a remote and mountainous part of Thap Put. According to legend, the cave has healing powers, so it is often visited by people with serious diseases like cancer. The resident monks will prepare herbal teas that are said to lower people’s blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and they will also demonstrate the Buddhist way of meditation including how to chant mantras.
The temple has a lot of winding stairs and many small shrines decorated with Buddhas and other holy figures. There are paintings in addition to statures and carvings.
Several tour companies offer visits to the Dragon Cave Temple, Wat Suwan Khuha, and Wat Rat Uppatham as a package deal.
Wat Lak Kaen
Wat Lak Kaen is a temple in the Takua Pa district, and it is south of Khao Lak. At least parts of it were destroyed by the 2004 tsunami, including the ubosot, which is the holiest building in a temple complex and is the place where new priests or monks are ordained.
The new ubosot was completed in 2007. The three tiers of the roof represent Buddhism’s three gems: Buddha, sangha or the Buddhist community, and dhamma or the Buddhist philosophy. The red tiles are shaped like snake scales to represent the serpent that guarded Buddha while he meditated. Inside the ubosot is an altar with a seated golden Buddha.
Nine stones are used to sanctify a temple and insure its protection. One is buried beneath it, four are buried at cardinal points, and four are buried in between the other five. Small monuments are erected over the stones.
The complex also includes a monastery that is home to twenty monks. The buildings in the complex are white with gold trim and red roofs.
Wat Manee Si Mahathat
Wat Manee Sri Mahathat is a temple in the Takua Thung district. It is another new temple built in the wake of the tsunami, and construction took roughly eight years. It is sometimes called “the temple of the black monk” for its enormous black statue of the monk Por Than Klai who had died in 1970. He had been a favorite of the king and was believed to have prophetic abilities.
One of the buildings in the complex contains life-sized or nearly life-sized wax figures of famous monks, some of whom lived centuries ago. The building is air conditioned to protect the figures.
Wat Manee Sri Mahathat is one of the attractions found in the Ao Phang Nga National Park.
- Popular Temples in Phang Nga
- Exploring Phang Nga Bay
- Phang Nga Holiday Guide
- Wat Suwan Kuha in Phang Nga
- Ao Phang Nga National Park