Wat Suwan Kuha Temple in Phang Nga
Aleenta Phuket Resort in Phang Nga is the ideal escape for the cosmopolitan traveler seeking the best of Phuket's exquisite natural beauty, stylish and thoughtful accommodations, and cultural charm. Indeed, Aleenta Phuket strives to connect its guests with fascinating regional cultural and historic sites. With this mission in mind, the resort offers convenient transport to the Tham Suwan Kuha Temple, a unique and extraordinary Buddhist temple located inside of a large natural cavern set into a limestone mountain on the Thai mainland. Though some in-the-know tourists to the Phang Nga region are keen to the temple, it's an gem unknown to most foreigners.
Tham Sawan Kuha Temple, known to locals as Wat Tham (the "temple cave"), resides in a complex of caves near the town of Phang Nga, the capital of Phang Nga Province. It serves as a functioning and revered place of worship for local Buddhists and also as a tourist destination. The largest of the four-cave system, the subterranean Tham Yai, holds a number of standing and sitting Buddha figures and ceramic figures of spiritual significance. The highlight of the temple and the subject of worship for religious pilgrims and Buddhist monks is a spectacular 15-metre reclining gold Buddha. The subdued lighting of the cave combined with the limited natural light create a mystical, other-worldly atmosphere. The soft echo of voices and footsteps further adds to the ambience. Visitors reach Tham Yai via a gently-sloping staircase from the surface.
The massive reclining Buddha deserves particular mention. The scale, high level of artistry, and golden hue combine to instinctively draw the eye. Visitors may follow paths around the figure and view it from all angles. Behind the Buddha lie two small shrines; the faithful may take a moment to light incense or say a prayer. Without doubt, this figure serves as the focal point of Tham Suwan Kuha.
Tham Yai also holds an impressive chedi reminiscent of the Wat Arun in Bangkok. The chedi contains the bones of the Na Takuathung family, a clan of past local political leaders instrumental in the construction of the shrine.
Despite the presence of the temple, the cavern complex retains much of the character of a natural cave. Stalactites and stalagmites decorate the caves, a colony of bats and many cave-dwelling birds reside within, and the air is rather humid. Without artificial lighting, visibility within the temple would be quite low. A tour of the temple allows visitors the unique opportunity to combine the serenity of a Buddhist spiritual landmark with alluring natural beauty.
The exterior of the temple cave is a tourist site in its own right. A mischievous troop of monkeys live at the entrance and are always on the lookout for dropped food or handouts. This may be the first interaction with monkeys for many visitors from more temperate climes, and it can be quite entertaining. The monkeys are not above petty thieving, and visitors should be vigilant when it comes to their bags, food, and purses. Somewhat humorously, the monkeys have a penchant for pilfering windshield wipers and antennas from cars parked near the temple entrance; visitors bringing their own cars are advised to park some distance away. Vendors sell a variety of monkey-friendly treats and also cold drinks, fresh fruit, and Thai snacks for human consumption.
Another lovely Buddhist temple is found a short distance by foot from the Tham Suwan Kuha entrance. The entrance to the cave is adjacent to a gorgeous tropical forest visible as one exits the cave. A faded but beautiful and impressive gate surrounds the portal to Tham Suwan Kuha. Visitors interested in an expanded excursion may also consider the numerous trekking paths located in Raman Waterfall National Forests. Plentiful and appetizing seafood restaurants dot the coast surrounding Phang Nga Bay for the gastronomically-inclined.
As with so many excursions, the journey to Tham Suwan Kuha may be as rewarding as the destination itself. In the quick 30-minute drive, guest transport from Aleenta Phuket leaves the island of Phuket and passes spectacular limestone cliffs, rubber tree groves, and beautiful coastlines on the mainland. Though the tourist-heavy attractions of Phuket are certainly appealing, an outing to Tham Suwan Kuha allows Aleenta Phuket guests the chance to see another side of the Phang Nga region every bit as entrancing as the resort experience.
Phuket and Phang Nga Province offer the very best of Thailand. Aleenta Phuket Resort & Spa provides polished but tranquil accommodations just a stone's throw from stunning natural beauty and enchanting cultural destinations; resort staff stand ready to create a friendly, attentive connection between guests and these locales that make the region so special. Aleenta Phuket can transform your holiday into the adventure of a lifetime. Contact us today, and we'll work with you to design the experience of your dreams.
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