Undoubtedly the most spectacular Chinese temple I have seen in Thailand is Wat Boromracha Kanchanapisek Anusorn in Nonthaburi Province just north-west of Bangkok. I would say it also rivals anything I saw even in China during my three month trip around the country. Parts of the temple reminded me of the Forbidden Palace. This temple, in Bang Bua Thong District, took over ten years to construct and cost hundreds of millions of baht. It was built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the King’s reign. And it certainly lived up to its promise.
The temple is a photographer’s paradise with so much detail in the engravings on the walls, floors and ceilings. I was there for over two hours and could easily have spent longer. I will be going back for sure and I reckon that I will find things that I didn’t spot during my first visit. You really have to keep looking all around you as there is so much to see. I was there early in the morning when the sun was behind the main building. The entrance faces south-west and I reckon if I go next time at the end of the day, I should have some good colours from the sunset. At the weekend, the temple closes at 6 p.m.
It is quite a large complex with various interconnected buildings with three or four levels. Make sure that you explore everywhere so that you don’t miss any of the highlights. For me I think it was this room which had at least 12,000 little Buddha images covering all of the walls. There could be more but I lost count after a while. The advantage I found in going early (I arrived before 9 a.m.) was that it was easy for me to park and there weren’t people blocking my photographs. By the time I left, shortly before noon, there were literally thousands of people there and no more parking spaces. People had to park on the street outside. However, despite the crowds, I didn’t see any other foreigners there at all.
The main hall contains three very large Buddha statues made of brass and weighing 18 tonnes each. When I was there, there were several dozen novices and monks who were taking part in a ceremony. I should have taken along my sound recorder as the sound was mesmerizing and so different to chanting at Thai Buddhist temples. On each side of this building there were statues of 18 Buddhist saints. On the walls were large wood carvings. On the third floor is the Goddess of Mercy which was carved with Burmese teakwood (see picture above).
The fourth floor is the Meun Buddhasukkhavadi Buddhakset Hall with the thousands of small Buddha images. There was a great breeze from the hallways outside this room. Make sure you take a close look at the roof tiles as you will spot little monk images and mystical animals on the roof ridges. From here I went down several floors where they were doing another ceremony for the Vegetarian Festival. They were also preparing krathongs for the Loy Krathong Jay ceremony which they did later this afternoon. To enter this area you need to wear white clothing which luckily I was. However, you won’t miss much if you don’t want to dress in white. However, if you go there during the “gin jay” festival, then you will be able to have free vegetarian food for lunch.
I drove to Wat Boromracha Kanchanapisek Anusorn this morning. From Samut Prakan it was quite simple. It only took about 40 minutes driving along the Outer Ring-Road. I turned off for Bang Bua Thong and just followed the sign for the temple which was also in English. I understand you can catch bus 177 from Victory Monument which can take up to two hours. When I drove back it only took 30 minutes to reach Sanam Luang via the Phra Pinklao Bridge. So, if you don’t have your own transport then I would suggest you go by taxi.