On the way back home from our trip to Suphanburi, we stopped at a really amazing temple complex called Wat Pai Rong Rua. It is popular with people from Bangkok who drive up here for the day. It is quite easy to find. Just take highway 340 and then look out for the turning on the left for Song Phi Nong. The temple presented itself a long time before we arrived at the front gate. This was because the massive 54 metre high sitting Buddha could be seen miles away. I am pretty sure that this must be the largest Buddha image in Thailand. The only other big one I have seen is in Ayutthaya and that is a measly 19 metres high!
I think Carl Parkes got it right in his guidebook when he described this place as a “surrealistic Buddhist theme park more reminiscent of Disney on acid than Buddha in nirvana”. Scattered around this 200 acre park we discovered literally hundreds and hundreds of Buddha images of all shapes and sizes. It is actually a good place to come for people with an interest in Buddhism as there are also replicas of important Buddhist shrines and buildings. In one section of the park, there is a depiction of Buddhist hell. Here you can see what will happen to you in the afterlife if you perform certain bad deeds. These were very similar to the temple I visited in Bangsaen. However, I think the models here were more explicit and gorey.
There is a lot to do and experience at this temple to keep you busy for several hours at least, if not half a day. We were there at the weekend so it was quite busy with people. If you prefer to avoid the crowds then come during the week. It looks like the monks are continually adding more structures. In this photograph, you can just make out the shoulder of a gigantic Reclining Buddha which will surely be the longest in Thailand once it is completed. Another record breaker at this temple is the largest metal cast Buddha image in the world called “Phra Phutthakhodom”, which has a lap width of 10 metres and a height of 26 metres.
You can visit this temple as a day trip from Bangkok or on your way to Suphanburi. You could also use that city as your base as we saw a songtaew arrive at the temple which had just come from Suphanburi.