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The highest temple in southern Thailand – Wat Bang Thong

by Karo

We are exploring the entire province of Krabi. It’s not just the famous Railey Beach, Ao Nang, or the Andaman Sea islands. Every now and then, we manage to veer off the tourist trails and discover something that completely surprises us. That’s exactly what happened with the highest temple in southern Thailand – Wat Bang Thong, also known as Wat Mahathat Wachiramongkol.

złota pagoda w Krabi w świątyni Wat Bang Thong najwyższej świątyni w południowej Tajlandii

Golden pagoda in the province of Krabi

It was the view of this pagoda that caught our attention when we saw a brief moment of it in an advertisement on Facebook. At first, it wasn’t easy to find information about the temple and its location. It was only our Thai friends from Koh Lanta who pointed out that it is the highest Buddhist temple in southern Thailand. How did we never hear about it before? Well, most likely because it lies outside the classic tourist trail in Krabi, precisely in the Ao Leuk district. It’s about 100 km from Krabi and 120 km from Phuket. There isn’t much else of interest in the surrounding area, but the temple itself leaves a tremendous impression.

złota pagoda w Krabi w świątyni Wat Bang Thong - najwyższej świątyni w południowej Tajlandii

The pagoda, usually the tallest building in the entire Buddhist temple complex, is a place where relics are typically enshrined. This 96-meter gilded pagoda was built to honor the 50th birthday of the current king of Thailand, King Rama X, which means the temple is not particularly historical. It was primarily funded through donations from the local community, with the construction cost amounting to 100 million Thai baht, approximately 3,35 million €.

How not to visit Wat Bang Thong

So… first, you need to not check the opening hours of the attraction. Then you have to leave an hour later than planned. After that, wait three times longer for the ferry from Koh Lanta than usual. Next… you have to sail for 10 times longer than the typical ferry ride (seriously, seriously, currents? moon phase? fuel shortage?).

Then you have to drive for 2 hours (even though you thought it would be just one hour because Google Maps showed differently when you checked the location the day before), and you’ll end up stopping for a bathroom break 3 times because, of course, on a hot day (36 degrees Celsius in the shade), you drink half-liter granite at once, right?

And then… you must arrive at our dreamy, most beautiful, highest temple in southern Thailand, half an hour after it’s closed… but still catch the last half-hour of good light before the Egyptian darkness sets in, as it does in the tropics.

Surprising place on the map of Krabi – Wat Bang Thong

We didn’t have high expectations. Throughout the entire journey, and it was not a short one, we debated whether we had lost our minds to drive two hours one way just to see a golden pagoda, spend 20 minutes there, take three photos, and then head back home.

złota pagoda w Krabi w świątyni Wat Bang Thong najwyższej świątyni w południowej Tajlandii

After arriving at Wat Bang Thong, we realized that the four-hour drive was worth it. Firstly, this place is very little known, so after closing time, there was absolutely no one there. Instead of spending 20 minutes, we ended up staying for a whole hour – and I must remind you that the temple itself was already closed. We promised ourselves that someday we will come back “during the day” to explore the entire complex from the inside.

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