This full-day guided excursion puts history and culture lovers right up to some of Phangnga’s most popular and impressive Buddhist Temples. Learn about the culture and traditions that make these places so unique.
The first temple we visit is Wat Manee Sri Mahathat, a beautiful Thai Temple dominated by the huge black statue of a monk called Luang Phor Than Klai. He lived 1876 – 1970 and was so famous in South Thailand that he wasn’t cremated but his mummified body can be seen at Wat That Noi in Nakhon Si Thammarat. It was said that he could predict the future and he was a favorite monk of the King.
The temple is quite new, amazingly colorful and has a few different buildings; one of them houses life-size wax statues of 9 holy monks, the Hindu goddess Lakshmi and other religious figures like Phor Tha Khao Lak, the patron of Khao Lak.
It takes a 30-minute drive to reach Wat Bang Riang (or Wat Rat Upatam in its formal name), Phang Nga’s largest temple pagoda, situated on top of the Khao Lan Mountain in Thap Put. The main temple building is a big white pagoda with numerous golden Buddha images of all sizes, in various postures and styles. Inside it is very colorful and wonderful murals show scenes from Buddha’s life, and it is said that they have a tooth of Buddha in the inner pagoda.
Less than 30 years old, it is also a very young temple. From a pavilion at the side we have a stunning panoramic view over the green hills and 2 huge statues: A giant golden seated Buddha and the impressive statue of Guan Yin or Kwan Yin (the Chinese Goddess of mercy and compassion).
Right at the bottom of the hill lays the restaurant where we will enjoy a delicious Thai lunch.
Another 30-minute drive brings us deep into the mountains where we find Wat Praya Nakarach or Tham Paya Nakarat (King of Snakes Cave), a completely different temple (or better Haven of Silence, Meditation Center or Monastery) and the sportive part of the tour.
About 300 steps up to the impressive limestone caves which house the temple that is said to have special healing energy and the magical atmosphere inside the temple is something that everyone should experience once!
Modern construction materials show us that the temple is quite young as well, but the caves have been visited throughout centuries for the healing powers of the mountain.
The main plateau has a big altar with praying mats and sometimes a monk sits there and gives blessings. At certain times a year there are also many monks, nuns and religious people spending several days in the caves praying and meditating.
From here we climb the next flight of stairs to get deeper into the mountain, finding 3 more caves with altars and statues of Buddha, holy monks, Hindu gods and other adored figures like Aslath, the patron of all healers. The tunnels and caves are surprisingly airy and you walk comfortably on sand.
Back to the main plateau there is one more stairs, leading to the outside of the cliff and a marvelous view across the valley. But it’s not only the visitors enjoying the view but also a group of big golden Buddha statues facing the opening to the countryside.
There is something else that’s unique here:
The only monk living here (the 80+ year old abbot) and locals producing an herbal tea, only from the plants of this mountain that is believed to have healing powers. Every visitor is treated with a cup of this nice tasting and refreshing tea, that is said could lower cholesterol levels, balance the blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, help with stomach and digestion issues and assist with weight control.