Wat Bang Riang in Phang Nga

A Great Hilltop Temple Near Phuket

Wat Bang Riang (formally Wat Rat Upatam) is a beautiful hilltop temple on Khao Lan Mountain in Thap Put, Phang Nga Province. The temple features a seated golden Buddha image, a large statue of Kwam Im (Guan Yin), the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, as well as fine Thai temple architecture.

A drive through the rustic countryside in which the temple resides can be very interesting, despite it not being on the usual travellers’ beaten path. Even so, it’s well worth a visit if you have time to spare while in Phang Nga.

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Highlights of Wat Bang Riang

Wat Bang Riang is a temple where Buddhist monks actually live. The overall atmosphere is very peaceful but once in a while buses with local visitors 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 2 enormous mystical 5-headed serpent nagas standing on each side of the staircase make quite an impressive entrance. Within the temple complex are 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, you'll get to see countless Buddha images of all sizes, in various postures and styles, here and there. There are also Thai guardian figures such as lions, elephants, holy birds as well as Chinese-style dragons.

What’s in the name?

The temple's formal name, Wat Rat Upatam, means ‘the temple that has been supported by locals’. 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. 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 they would want to know more about Dharma and Buddhism.

Good to know about Wat Bang Riang

There’s a panoramic view of the district from the top of the hill with vistas out over the hilly countryside of rubber plantations. You can also often have small villages and the Andaman Sea in view on a clear day, and 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, disabled people or small kids, 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 south of Phang Nga Town. If you're coming from Phuket, it might take about one-and-a-half to 2 hours to reach the temple.

Wat Bang Riang

  • Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 5pm
  • Location: Bang Riang, Thap Put, Muang, Phang Nga 82000, Thailand
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