A beautiful hilltop temple, Wat Bang Riang (Wat Rat Upatam in its formal name) is located on Khao Lan Mountain in Thap Put, Phang Nga Province. It features a seated golden Buddha image, a large statue of Kwam Im, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy and fine Thai temple architecture.
A drive through this rustic countryside can be very interesting, despite the fact that it is not on the usual tourist beaten path and it’s well worth a visit if you have time to spare.
Wat Bang Riang is a temple with monks living in it. The overall atmosphere is very peaceful but once in a while buses with Thai tourists stop by to make merit and pay respect to the bell-shaped pagoda called Chedi Phutthathambanlue. This 109-metre-tall holy structure is said to house relics of the Buddha and it cost almost 70 million baht to build.
The two enormous mystical five-headed serpent nagas standing on each side of the staircase make quite an impressive entrance. Within the temple complex is the gigantic golden Buddha and the tallest statue of Kwam Im in South of Thailand (as well as many of her mini versions in the basement).
On top of these, visitors will get to see countless of Buddha images of all sizes, in various postures and styles here and there and Thai guardian figures such as lions, elephants, holy birds and Chinese-style dragons.
Its full name Wat Rat Upatam means ‘the temple that has been supported by locals’ and it has an interesting story attached to it. Lung Por Chai, the abbot who founded the temple, once said there was no way that a poor temple without anything would become a grand place of worship.
Lung Por Chai had always been a monk on a pilgrimage but decided to settle as well as develop this temple. Almost 30 years ago, he was visiting this area and was asked by the locals to help them with a funeral ceremony as there was no other temple nearby that could support them in this kind of circumstance. His mother who moved to this village had also fallen ill and he wanted to be near her.
When asked why he had to build so many structures and gardens, he explained that it’s important to make a simple place more appealing to people, so that they would be more willing to come. Once they get here, there’s a chance that they would want to know more about dharma and Buddhism. Lung Por Chai is currently doing the same thing at Wat Bang Tong in Krabi.
There’s a panoramic view of the district from the top of the hill with vistas out over the hilly countryside of rubber plantations, small villages and views of the Andaman Sea and on a clear day you will be able to see all the way to the famous Phang Nga Bay.
Once you park your car at the car park, follow the long walkway that leads up to the ordination hall and pagoda. If you visit with elderly people, small kids as well as disabled people, you can take the car up to the top to drop your passengers off first.
Thap Put is a small town about a 20-minute drive soutth of Phang Nga Town. If you are coming from Phuket, it might take about one and a half to two hours to reach the temple.
Wat Bang Riang
- Opening Hours: Daily usually from early morning to late afternoon
- Location: Khao Lan Mountain in Thap Put Distract, Phang Nga Province. It’s about 11km from the Thap Put District Office.