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Bangkok Travelbug June 2019 Exploring Uthai Thani – two special temples
June 12, 2019

Exploring Uthai Thani – two special temples

Welcome back to the June issue of the Bangkok Travelbug! In this and the next few issues, we feature our visit to Uthai Thani to explore some of the cultural and natural wonders of this beautiful province.

We start our tour with a visit to two very special temples in Uthai Thani City, each with their unique character.

Contents (click on the link to go directly to the topic)

Background information on Uthai Thani

Uthai Thani is a province about 230 km north of Bangkok in the northern sector of the Chao Phraya basin. It's about a three-hour forty minutes' drive, if you include breaks about four and a half hours.

The Mon from Myanmar and the Lawa from Northern Thailand were the early settlers in Uthai Thani prior to the Sukhothai era.

In the Sukhothai era in the 13th C, the first Thai settlement was in an area that was later abandoned because the river changed its course. Remnants of this ancient city are located in Nong Chang district 25 km west of Uthai Thani City.

In the Ayutthaya era (14th – 18th C), the Karen settled in the present location of Uthai Thani City by the Sakae Krang River. During this period the city served as a fortified city protecting the northern flank of Ayutthaya. Today there is a Karen community in Ban Rai in the western sector of the province.

The Sakae Krang River starts from a network of waterways 30 km to the north, winds its way through Uthai Thani before joining the Chao Phraya just south of Uthai Thani City.

This is the main river in Uthai Thani and along various parts of the river there are several rafts on the river banks with houses built on them.

Raft house on the Sakae Krang River

Uthai Thani's crowning glory is Huai Kha Khaeng which is part of the Thung Yai – Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary that stretches from Kanchanaburi through Uthai Thani covering most of the west part of the province and finally to Tak in the north.

This vast wildlife sanctuary is more than 300 km long from north to south and covers 6,222 sq km (1.54 m acres). It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in December 1991.*

Part of the Huay Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary from a viewing point in
Ban Rai in the western part of Uthai Thani

*Source: UNESCO web site at

As you approach Uthai Thani City from the east along highway 333, you will see the long green ridge of Khao Sakae Krang (Mount Sakae Krang). On the slopes of this ridge are displayed in bold white letters in Thai, "Mueang Phra Chanok Chakri" – City of the Royal Father of Chakri.

The father of King Rama I was a native of Uthai Thani. He was born in a place called Ban Sakae Krang, around the vicinity of Khao Sakae Krang.

King Rama I was born Thong Duang and one of his titles before he became king was Chao Phraya Chakri.

Khao Sakae Krang – a landmark in Uthai Thani


Wat Tha Sung – Viharn Kaew

Wat Tha Sung or Wat Chantaram is an old temple that dates back to the Ayutthaya days. It's famous for its Viharn Kaew or Glass Viharn. On the map it's also called in Thai, "100-metre Viharn" because of its length. The other attraction is Prasart Kham Thong or the Golden Palace.

The temple is located along route 3265 about 8 km south-east of the city centre. The old temple site is on the left by the river. You don't have go there as the attractions are in the new temple site to the right.

The temple grounds are huge, more than 1.62 sq. km or almost 400 acres. Within buildings lining the temple grounds are 159 Buddha statues.

You will need transport to move around. Uthai Thani has its unique form of public transport; it's neither a "tuk tuk" or a "song taeo". I don't know what to call it.

They come in different configurations; some are larger, able to accommodate eight people. Others like the one in the photo can only take two or three at a squeeze. We took one of these to the Glass Viharn.

Our transport for the temple tour

The relatively plain exterior of Viharn Kaew didn't give us an idea of what to expect inside.

The entrance to Viharn Kaew

As it was Vesakha Day, a holy day, the temple was packed with people. The scene inside the Glass Viharn is simply stunning, little pieces of glass glittering with light all over the cavernous hall!

Streams of glittering light

At the other end of the viharn is a huge Buddha image in gold and worshippers filled the floor of the viharn from where I was right up to the Buddha image at the far end.

Buddha image in the distance

At the end nearer the entrance, there is the preserved body of Luang Por Ruesri Lingdum, the abbot who was responsible for building this beautiful structure and many of the buildings in the new wing of the temple.

In memory of the abbot who was responsible
for Viharn Kaew

A memorable sight indeed

After visiting Viharn Kaew we dropped in at Prasart Thong Kham, the Golden Palace, another majestic structure in Wat Tha Sung.

Prasart Thong Kham – the Golden Palace

Here are some photos of the interior; pillars, ceilings and door carvings of gold.


Wat Sangkat Rattana Khiri

Wat Sangkat Rattana Khiri is another temple in Uthai Thani with a very special feature. The temple is located at the foot of Khao Sakae Krang and has a beautiful viharn of gold.

The viharn of gold

The Buddha image in here dates back to the Sukhothai era.

Buddha image in the viharn

However, there is another part of the temple located up on Khao Sakae Krang. You could drive up by another way or you could walk up this way.

The way up

We decided to take the challenge. There was lots of encouragement from visitors on their way down. Finally, we made it to the top. A visitor up there told me I had just completed 449 steps! The information board confirms this. Had I known about this earlier, I might not have tried.

Signboard indicating 449 steps on the way down

The main attraction at the top is the replica of Buddha's footprint that is housed in a multi-tiered pavilion.

The pavilion where the replica of Buddha's footprint is kept,
note the bell in the foreground

Replica of Buddha's footprint

There is also a bronze bell cast in the reign of King Rama V and visitors to Uthai Thani make it a point to ring this bell as an indication that they have been there.

The reward for the long, hard climb is this beautiful view of Uthai Thani City.

Panoramic view of the city

The way down was relatively easier but still be careful, hang on to the railings lest your legs give way.

The way down

During our first visit here, we missed a very important monument up on Khao Sakae Krang; the monument to the father of King Rama I. This is because the monument is at the other end of the long ridge nearer the entrance to the carpark and our legs were too wobbly to explore further.

On our second trip a fortnight later, we drove up to Khao Sakae Krang. The way up is at the northern end of the ridge where the sports stadium is located. It was a pleasant drive up a very gentle slope.

The way up Khao Sakae Krang – a favourite with cyclists

The monument is in a pavilion built on a slight rise of ground away from the temple buildings. The father of King Rama I, a native of Ban Sakae Krang, was born Duang Di and was later awarded the title of Somdet Phra Pathom Borom Chanoknat.

Monument to the Royal Father of Chakri

When I turned around to take a photo of the view below, I noticed that the monument was sited to face highway 333, the main road leading to and from Uthani Thani City. It was almost like a silent sentinel guarding the approaches to the city.

View from the monument facing highway 333

Somewhere in the vicinity of Khao Sakae Krang 282 years ago, a man fathered a son who was to start a dynasty of monarchs of Thailand that has reached its 10th generation today.

Uthai Thani is proud of this legacy.


Map of Uthai Thani City

If the map doesn’t appear, click on this link

Wat Tha Sung


Wat Tha Sung
Mu 2
Tambon Nam Sum
Amphur Mueang
Uthai Thani

Opening hours

Main temple grounds, open every day 10:30 am – 06:30 pm

Viharn Kaew (Glass Viharn) is open every day
from 9:30 – 11:30 am and from 2:00 – 4:00 pm.

It is closed for meditation from 11:30 am – 2:00 pm

Prasart Thong Kham (Golden Palace) is open every day from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm


Free admission

How to get there

From the city centre, turn into route 3265. Stay on this route till you get to Wat Tha Sung. The older part of the temple should be on your left. Go to the new wing that's on your right.

Wat Sangkat Rattana Khiri


Wat Sangkat Rattana Khiri
Thanon Tha Chang
Tambon Nam Sum
Amphur Mueang
Uthai Thani

Open every day 8:00 am – 4:30 pm

Free admission

How to get there

For the part of temple at the foot of Khao Sakae Krang, go along route 333 and turn into Soi Wat Sangkat. Keep going till get to the temple.

For the part of the temple on Khao Sakae Krang, go along route 333, continue onto route 3220. At the Uthai Thani Provincial Sports Centre turn left and follow the road up to Khao Sakae Krang.

Have a safe and enjoyable trip! See you next month.


Next month

Hup Pa Tat – the cave of wonders in Uthai Thani

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Till next month then.

Eric Lim
Tour Bangkok Legacies
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