Thailand’s Dragon Temple Is Real, & Here’s How To Get There | marketrealtime.com


Travelers have always enjoyed a love affair with Thailand — a country famed for its delicious cuisine, vibrant culture, breathtaking palm-lined white-sand beaches, and glistening turquoise waters. Whether visiting the country’s famed southern islands of Koh Phi Phi to savor their paradisical experiences or adventuring in the Thai capital, Bangkok, “The Land of Smiles” ticks every tourist box, from relaxing island pastimes and immersive cultural activities to action-packed extreme sports.

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There’s plenty to experience for travelers visiting Bangkok, from eating one’s way through the city and sampling the energetic nightlife to visiting the bustling local markets full of delicious delicacies, handicrafts, and apparel. However, out of the many things to do in Bangkok (especially if visitors only have a couple of days), touring the city’s numerous beautiful temples always comes top of the list.

Bangkok certainly boasts no lack of aesthetically pleasing temples, many of which are open to tourists. However, in and around the busy metropolis are a few hidden gems that also take the form of holy sites. In fact, venturing 40 kilometers from the city center allows intrepid travelers to stumble upon a lesser-known Buddhist temple. How it’s so unknown is a complete mystery — and gazing upon its whimsical architectural awe will leave travelers scratching their heads trying to answer that very question.


What Is Wat Samphran Temple?

The Wat Samphran Temple, also known as the “Wat Samphran Dragon Temple” or simply “the Dragon Temple”, is quite possibly one of the most unbelievably unreal must-see temples in Thailand.

Sure, the 17-story cylindrical, cotton candy pink tower looks like something from a Disney movie, but it is indeed real — and it’s a functioning Buddhist temple where many monks and Thai people go to pray and worship.

Related: Here Is How You Can Explore Thailand On A Budget

Rarely mentioned in travel guides, tourism websites, and tourist maps, saying Wat Sam Phran Temple stands out would be an understatement. The vibrant building’s shape and color are enough to command attention; however, it’s the long, fierce green dragon wrapping itself around the tower that truly renders this holy site extraordinary.

Although this architectural wonder deserves a place among Thailand’s most Instagram-worthy places and is celebrated by many online, what’s somewhat surprising is that details on its history, who designed and built it, and why it even exists are not forthcoming.

Thailand travel guides and even the internet itself lack mention of the enchanting Dragon Temple and the beautiful grounds where it lies, which also features a number of stunning statues and shrines — as well as a giant bronze Buddha.

Who Built Wat Samphran Temple?

Search “Wat Samphran Temple history”, and limited information comes up. Still, what is known about this fantastical religious building is that it was founded by Bhavana Buddho and officially registered in 1985 — so not exactly among the oldest temples in Thailand, but absolutely one of the most unusually unique.

A marvel of Thai architecture with notes of Chinese culture embedded in its design, the Wat Samphran Temple and the mighty dragon scaling around its circumference took only five years to build.

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Can You Visit Wat Samphran Temple?

Found off the typical tourist track, the Wat Samphran Dragon Temple is open to visitors and is absolutely worth the 40-kilometer journey (which takes around an hour from Bangkok).

The pink 17-story building (along with the surrounding complex) showcases myriads of nods to Buddhist beliefs and concepts. It was built to be 80 meters in height, honoring the number of years Buddha lived, while the encircling dragon’s five claws represent the Five Moral Precepts in Buddhism.

Related: 10 Must-Do Activities During A Three-Day Stay In Bangkok

At the temple’s base are traditional Thai prayer pots, said to bring love, wealth, and eternal happiness to all who toss a coin inside. But visitors would be forgiven if they didn’t notice these; the gigantic, magical dragon hugging the tower is rather distracting.

Made of iron and glass fiber, the mythical creature encompassing the pink temple is hollow and contains a tunnel and stairs, enabling people to climb to the top of the temple through the beast.

However, according to numerous visitor accounts, some of the stairs have endured wear and tear, and thus only a few sections are open to the public. Still, numerous visitors have said there’s an elevator inside, which can be used to reach the top.

The temple’s surrounding complex is an equal part of the attraction; beyond the tower and its guardian dragon, the gardens are full of awe. Visitors can explore the grounds via a walking trail that leads them around the site, along which they’ll encounter various animal-shaped statues, sculptures, and buildings.

The creatures on show include tigers, elephants, dolphins, a turtle, and a rabbit — each of which holds significance in Buddhist folklore and culture.

Reportedly, getting good photos of the Dragon Temple is quite challenging. The complex does show signs of disrepair, and various non-photogenic features detract from the building and its gardens (such as low-hanging wires and tarpaulin). However, according to visitor reports, one spot, in particular, is great for a photo op. At one end of the site, there’s the temple and dragon; at the other, there’s a turtle cove, which leads through a concrete tunnel and a pond. Between the two ends of the complex is an exquisite white elephant statue — near the elephant is a staircase, which heads up a level to a bronze Buddha. That level is said to be the best place for taking photographs.

How To Get To Wat Samphran Temple From Bangkok

Getting to Wat Samphran Temple isn’t the easiest task, as it’s definitely one of the off-the-beaten-path places in Thailand — perhaps lending to its secret hidden gem status. Also, it’s not actually in Bangkok; situated 40 kilometers west of the capital, it takes about an hour to reach in normal Bangkok traffic (possibly longer if it’s really hectic on the roads).

Still, given the temple’s astounding beauty, unusual appeal, and gorgeous sculpture-filled gardens, it’s worth the effort for travelers seeking unique, lesser-known attractions in Thailand. For those willing to make the journey, here are some of the best ways to get to Wat Samphran Temple from Bangkok.

Taxi

In Thailand, there’s no Uber; instead, the cab app Grab is widely used, which works much in the same way. Grabbing a Grab cab is the easiest way to get to Wat Samphran, and it’s not too costly, either; a ride from central Bangkok to the temple is typically priced at anything from $20 to $25 for a roundtrip (great for travelers in a group splitting the bill or for those who wish to rideshare).

Still, hopping in a Grab taxi isn’t the cheapest way to reach the Dragon Temple, although taking the BTS Skytrain to Bang Wa Station and getting a Grab taxi there will make the route a lot cheaper.

Related: Visiting Bangkok? The City’s Grand Palace Is A Must See

Rent A Motorbike

The cheapest way to get to Wat Samphran: rent a moped for the day. Travelers confident navigating through Bangkok traffic by themselves can rent a motorbike for around $8 to $10 for the day and ride to Wat Samphran Temple.

Bus

From Bangkok, travelers can take bus no. 84 from Bang Wa to Wat Samphran, which takes around 70 minutes and costs 25 Thai Baht (about $1) per person. This bus drops passengers around four kilometers from the temple, at which point they can hop on a quick and affordable motorbike taxi for the rest of the journey.

Wat Samphran Temple Opening Hours

Wat Samphran is open to visitors every day, although the opening times differ depending on the day of the week. The temple is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, while on Saturday and Sunday, it’s open from 6 am to 6 pm.

How Much Does It Cost To Visit Wat Samphran Temple?

There’s no Wat Samphran Temple entrance fee; however, the site does accept donations from visitors. Any amount is welcome, but it’s advised to donate at least 20 Thai Baht (around $0.60), which goes toward electricity costs and other operational expenses.

Where Is Wat Samphran Temple?

  • Wat Samphran Temple Address: 92 Sam Phran, Amphoe Sam Phran, Chang Wat Nakhon Pathom 73110, Thailand

What To Know Before Visiting Wat Samphran Temple

While visiting the Dragon Temple is one of the best day trips from Bangkok, visitors mustn’t let the excitement of checking out this unusual attraction get ahead of them. Although it’s perhaps one of the coolest buildings in Thailand, it’s crucial to remember that, fairest and foremost, it’s a holy establishment — not an Instagram subject.

Therefore, remembering etiquette is essential, as is behaving respectfully at all times. With that in mind, taking on board the following tips will help travelers can ensure their visit to the Dragon Temple is enjoyable and respectful.

  • Men and women should dress modestly in clothing that covers the shoulders, chest, and knees.
  • This is a holy Buddhist site where Thai people and monks pray. Therefore, being quiet and aware of one’s surroundings is important.
  • Removing shoes indoors is part of Thailand’s culture and a sign of respect, especially at places of worship. Signage at the temple indicates when and where shoes should be taken off, which visitors should be mindful of.
  • Avoid being disruptive with any photo-taking
  • It’s extremely inappropriate and rude to shout or play music at the temple and within its grounds
  • Visitors should not climb the dragon or the temple exteriors

Adhere to these tips (as well as using the rest of this guide as a reference), and visiting the stunning yet bizarrely barely known Wat Samphran Temple will be a wonderful experience for any traveler enjoying their vacation in Thailand.

For even more bucket list-worthy activities and attractions to fill the roster, why not add any of these ten must-try tours and experiences in Thailand to the itinerary?



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