Wat Tham Ta Pan is one of the weirdest original temples in southern Thailand. Located in Phang Nga Town, approximately 100 km northeast of Phuket, the site offers a journey through Buddhist Heaven and Hell. At first sight, the temple looks a bit abandoned and decrepit, which simply adds to the eariness of the place.
At the entrance you’ll see a fountain with 5 monk statues, each of them holding a bowl representing wealth, beauty, happiness, cleverness, and health. Try throwing a coin in the bowl of your choice. Consider your 'wish' granted if you succeed in landing one in.
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Right next to the small shop, a huge Chinese dragon waits for you to enter... its mouth wide open. This is the beginning of the ‘journey’ through representations of Buddhist Heaven and Hell. The inside of the dragon has a long, quite dark tunnel with just a few tiny windows lighting your path and offering a vision to the ‘hell’ outside.
At the end of the tunnel, you'll find the entrance to a deep cave. Pray at the small shrine on your left before heading towards Nirvana at the end of the cave, after a 10-minute walk along a dark track with bridges crossing a river. Heaven is symbolized by 2 Buddha statues (one sitting and one standing) at the end of the cave.
Coming out from the cave, you are now ready to see the highlight of the show. Welcome to Buddhist Hell!
Buddhist Hell (Naraka in Sanskrit and Na Rok in Thai) awaits you if you do not follow the 5 precepts of Buddhism during your life:
• Abstain from taking life (thou shall not kill).
• Abstain from taking what is not given (thou shall not steal).
• Abstain from sexual misconduct (thou shall not commit adultery).
• Abstain from false speech (thou shall not lie).
• Abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness (eschew drunkenness).
Wat Tham Ta Pan can be really scary and is not recommended for young children. Scenes showing torture applied to sinners according to their sins are vivid and straightforward and leave no space to the imagination.
Good to known about Wat Tham Ta Pan
There are a few buildings located in the centre of the temple grounds, with a small shop where you can make a donation and buy snacks and drinks. The area behind these buildings offers a walk to a cliff through a luxurious garden dotted with statues of animals. The cliff itself displays various sculptures and representations of Indian deities, from Ganesh to Akhilandeshvari riding a crocodile.
Wat Tham Ta Pan is indeed a one-of-a-kind place that's well worth a visit simply due to its weird originality. A visit with a local guide is recommended if you wish to get further details about the various concepts represented at the temple – touches of Buddhism, Hinduism, and even Taoism are all mixed together there.
Wat Tham Ta Pan
- Opening Hours: Daily from 8.30am to 6pm
- Location: 79 Soi Tham Ta Pan 5, Tham Nam Phut, Muang, Phang Nga 82000, Thailand