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Bangkok Travelbug May 15 Ang Thong temple tour
April 27, 2015

Ang Thong temple tour

Hello and welcome back to the Bangkok Travelbug and a special welcome to our new subscribers. In this May 2015 issue, we will depart from our usual practice of presenting our visits a place at a time.

Instead we’ll roam free over the area around Ang Thong city to visit some of the attractions there. I had originally chosen four temples in Pho Thong district, that’s just north-west of Ang Thong city. Each of these temples has a unique feature or attraction, natural or man-made.

In addition, the driver of the vehicle I hired for this trip suggested two more temples with special features too. I’m glad he did as you will see. So here’s a list of the six temples; the first four were in the original list and the last two were the additions.

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

Join us as we take this virtual tour of some of the temples in Ang Thong province.

The Ang Thong temple tour

We started our temple tour from Ang Thong city by heading north-west along route 3064 and then westwards to route 3195 toward Wiset Chaichan district.

At the major traffic junction in Wiset Chaichan we turned right to route 3454 and proceeded on our first destination, Wat Khoi Khemaram.

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Wat Khoi

Wat Khoi is located on the banks of the Noi River, a meandering tributary of the Chao Phraya River that starts from Chai Nat 80 km to the north.

What’s the special feature of this temple? As it’s by the river, it’s a fish sanctuary. The river that flows past the temple is sanctuary to numerous different species of fish.

This is an old fish sanctuary that has been in existence for the last 50 years. Just look at the fish as they surface to feed.

Fish surfacing to feed

Wat Khoi is a quiet provincial temple and there was hardly anyone there on a weekday and a non-festive day too. We only met two people there; a young boy on a motor-cycle who showed us the way in and an old man selling fish food by the river.

Bell tower in the temple

Feeding fish is a form of making merit, just like releasing eels and tortoises to the river. It’s also a pleasant way to spend a quiet day by the river.

Peaceful banks of the River Noi

If I thought then that I’ve seen big fish, I was mistaken. There’s more to come.

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Wat Chanthraram

We continued along route 3454 till we got to Pho Thong, a district that just north-west of Ang Thong city. At Pho Thong, we turned left to route 3064. After about 1 km, we turned left again to an unnumbered route. There’s a sign board to indicate the way to Wat Chanthraram.

Wat Chanthraram

We didn’t have any difficulties finding this temple and its strange inhabitants. The trees in the grounds of this temple are home to numerous creatures which hang upside down from the branches.

At first glance they look like bats. But I thought bats are nocturnal animals. These were hanging out in broad daylight. Some are even flying around.

Hanging around in broad daylight

These are actually called Lyle’s flying foxes (Pteropus Lylei), a species of bats, which are found in Cambodia, Thailand and parts of Asia. They are called mega-bats because of their large size and are different from the micro-bats found in Europe.

They look like bats with their black wings but with their dark, sharp snouts, heads and necks which are covered with brown fur, they look like foxes. They feed on fruits and are disliked by farmers who will tend kill them.

Notice the patches of brown

As a result they seek refuge in temple grounds. Surprisingly, its Spanish name is Zorro Volador de Lyle! In Thai they are just called bats and that caused my initial confusion.

Taking off

Well, for visitors who may not find these creatures appealing, rest assured that they are not the European species of "Dracula" fame. Wat Chanthraram is actually a very pleasant and peaceful place. We even had lunch there later.

Under the dark canopy of trees

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Wat Riew Wa

We hit the road again to our next destination, a bird sanctuary this time. Wat Riew Wa was a little difficult to locate, we missed it and had to ask the way.

The local residents were very helpful. I must say that you don’t have to worry about not finding a place, as long as you get the name right and are in the correct general area. Everyone knows where a local temple is located.

However it was here that we encountered our first disappointment. The monk here told us that there were no birds at this temple and redirected us to Wat Chanthraram. According to him, it’s a bird sanctuary as well.

At Wat Chanthraram our enquiries with the local food vendors drew a blank. So we settled for a lunch of barbecued chicken and sticky rice in the temple grounds.

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Wat Yang Thong

After a morning of fish, bats and birds, we pressed on to find something more tangible. We returned to Pho Thong and turned north along route 3454 to the Bang Chao Cha community near Wat Yang Thong.

The Bang Chao Cha community is located behind Wat Yang Thong along the banks of River Noi that flows all the way down to Wat Khoi, the first place we visited.

After our enquiries at the temple, a staff member got on her motor bike and led us to the home where bamboo weaving is done. We were lucky, she brought us to the home of Khun Pornchai, chairman of the bamboo weaving handicraft group in the community.

Khun Pornchai’s home

His home displays various woven products like handbags, trays, food covers and other containers. The handicraft is exquisite as can be seen from the photos. Khun Pornchai showed me some of these handbags which are being woven for export to Japan!

Beautifully woven handbags

This royal project was initiated by HRH crown Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to encourage the residents to preserve a handicraft and augment their income as well.

Display area below the house

The bamboos for this wickerwork are grown in the vicinity of the community. A close-up of some of the products shows the distinctive pattern of weaving and standard of handicraft for which Bang Chao Cha is renowned.

Khun Pornchai even has a homestay service here. His contact details are

77 Mu 8,
Tambon Bang Chao Cha,
Amphur Pho Thong
Ang Thong

Tel 66 89 045 3678

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Wat Muang

I’m glad for the suggestion to visit Wat Muang, even though it meant going back to route 3195 which we passed earlier. Wat Muang is a temple in Ang Thong famous for its huge Buddha statue and I missed it out from my initial list.

Wat Muang was originally an abandoned temple from the Ayutthaya period and was renovated in the 1980s. In 1991 funds were raised to build the huge Buddha statue that can be seen for miles around.

When we entered the temple grounds, we passed a shrine dedicated to the famous Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. The legend tells of a virtuous princess who sacrificed her eyes and arms to save her father from a terminal illness even though he had persecuted her all her life.

For her supreme act of forgiveness and sacrifice she attained enlightenment. Kuan Yin is sometimes depicted with a thousand arms with an eye in each palm.

A thousand arms to help those in need and a thousand eyes to see who are in need

Her parting words to her father are immortalised through the ages.

"Father I suffered no pain. Having given up these human eyes, I shall see with diamond eyes. Having yielded the mortal arms, I shall receive golden arms. If my calling is true, all this will follow."

For more please see the Kuan Yin Shrine in Bangkok. There are several other impressive structures in Wat Muang.

Naga serpent and dragons

Giant lotus flower

However, this huge Buddha statue, that’s 93 m in high and 62 m wide, is the grand centrepiece of Wat Muang. The statue was built at a cost of 106 m baht raised from public donations. The project commenced in 1991and was only completed in 2008.

Note the comparative size of the people
at the foot of the statue

Phra Buddha Mahanamin Sakkayamunee

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Wat Ton Son

We started this tour from Ang Thong and we’ll end it in Ang Thong. We started with fish and we’ll end with fish. Wat Ton Son is at the eastern edge of Ang Thong city on the banks of the Chao Phraya.

It is another old temple from the late Ayutthaya period. The temple has a huge sanctuary and the fish here are the most numerous I’ve seen so far.

It is reputed to be one of the largest fish fertilisation centres in Thailand. When the fish surface to feed, they almost cover the entire water’s surface!

With that we end our temple tour of Ang Thong and we hope you enjoyed this virtual tour with us. It’s back to Pa Mok 12 km to the south for a well-earned rest.

Join us in June when we visit some very old temples in Petchaburi.

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Map of Ang Thong temple tour

If the map doesn’t appear click on this link

Sequence of visits

Start your tour from Ang Thong city and move off in a counter-clockwise direction to visit these temples in the following sequence.
  1. Wat Muang – from Ang Thong city – route 3064 – route 3195

  2. Wat Khoi – route 3195 – route 3454

  3. Wat Chanthraram – from Pho Thong – route 3064 – after about 800 m turn left to an unnumbered route

  4. Wat Yang Thong – back to Pho Thong – turn left to route 3454

  5. Wat Ton Son – back to Pho Thong – route 3064 – Ang Thong city

End your tour Ang Thong city and then make your way back to Bangkok.

Opening hours

The temples are open between 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.

How to get to Ang Thong city

From Bangkok head north along Viphawadi – Rangsit Road past Don Muang Airport and onto highway 1 the Asian Highway – highway 32 – past Ayutthaya. Turn left to route 334 to Ang Thong city.

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Next month

Old temples in Petchaburi

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Till next month then.

Eric Lim
Tour Bangkok Legacies
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