Thonburi Khlongs and Temples
Thonburi (thon, wealth and buri, fortress) on the other side of Chao Phraya which during the era of the Ayuthaya kingdom was an important garrison town. It was in 1768, one year after the looting of Ayutthaya by the Burmese, that General Taksin took over Thonburi and founded the kingdom and made it the capital where he became king until 1782. It was not until 1971 that this city/province was attached to Bangkok. Thonburi was for a long time the garden of Bangkok and remained little developed. It was in the 1990s that it experienced a boom in the development of housing estate projects and new roadways, and recently, particularly with the arrival of the BTS and soon the MRT, that large towers, especially along Chao Phraya and the BTS line after Taksin Bridge station (Sathorn Road), as well as condominium projects on Phet Kasem Road, have emerged.
Khlong Phasi Charoen
Khlong Phasi Charoen is 30 km long, which from Khlong Bangkok Yai joins the Tha Chin River. When it was created in 1866, a tax collector named Phra Phasi Sombat proposed to finance this project in exchange for the toll collection fee for the passage. The taxes (opium) collected were used to finance the payment of wages to Chinese workers. The construction was completed in 1872. Phasi means tax, Charoen means prosperity. The canal was named after the man who coordinated the project.
Many temples and peaceful and pleasantly animated districts, distant from the tourist crowd. Beautiful temples and areas to explore by boat, but of course, you can also access some of them with the BTS, by taxi, bus, moto-taxi, bike, from Toet Thai Road and Phet Kasem Rad with the MRT in a near future. But despite the decrease of the boat service, it is the most enjoyable way to meet a community and discover an ancient lifestyle which is threatened by merciless economic development.
Temples Along the Khlong Dan
BTS is the fastest way to get there. From Wutthakat station, either take a moto taxi directly to Wat Khun Chan (30 baht) 5 minutes or walk (15 minutes) and visit 2 temples on the way. At the station take exit 1-2, at the bottom of the stairs, cross the road to the IDEO condominium and take the Soi – For those who have not yet had breakfast there is a coffee shop, Tonmainam, most of the guests are residents of the condo – and in a few steps you are at Wat Nang Chi (Mae chi), a small and very quiet temple.
Wat Nang Chi
Wat Nang Chi dates from the Ayutthaya period. It was allegedly founded by a nobleman from whom his daughter had just recovered from a disease, and was ordained by making a votive offering, so his name refers to “votaress temple”. Her father built this temple as a Buddhist altar, which was then abandoned and finally restored in the early Rattanakosin period.
The time to take some pictures and in a minute from the temple exit you are at Wat Nak Prok.
Wat Nak Prok The Buddha Protected by Naga King
Nak means the great serpent and Prok to cover. Wat Nak Prok is a private Theravada temple under the Sangha Supreme Council in Maha Nikaya. It was probably built in 1748 during the Ayuthaya period. It is said that a Chinese merchant called Phruk contributed to its construction. The viharn (sermon hall) was a dedication to his Thai wife and the Ubosot (ordination hall) was to himself. The bronze Buddha statue in the attitude of Mara Vichai, which was brought from Sukhothai has a mucalinda on the head. It was named after this image.
Open 5.30 am to 9 pm
Temple Absonsawan, Khun Chan and Pak Nam
From Wat Nak Prok you can walk to Wat Absonsawan, Khun Chan and Pak Nam. Just go to Toet Thai Road, cross it and go on your right, you will get to the bridge and the Khlong (Khlong Dan is where some James Bond the Man with the Golden Gun scenes were filmed in 1974) at the foot of the bridge take the very small Soi 36, and in five minutes you will be to Wat Absonsawan.
Wat Absonsawan Worawihan
No fantasy here, but the Ubosot (or Bot) contains a beautiful collection of 28 Buddhas. A small but nice Ho Trai which is the Wat library where Buddhist manuscripts are kept. It was often built on columns and bricks in order to store and preserve the scriptures which in the past were written on dried palm leaves against humidity, termites, and other insects. Sometimes, as here, and for the same reasons, in wood on stilts on an artificial pond. There is also a well maintained Prang.
Open 8 am to 6:30 pm
Wat Kun Chan or Wat Waramatayaphan Saararam
To my great surprise, there was a group of westerner tourists and a group of cyclo-tourists, but I realized that this day was a holiday (King Rama 10’s birthday). Built in 2370 the Thai year (1827, subtract 543 years). Most of the temple style is a mosaic of Thai and Burmese Buddhist art. A colorful temple, the Ubosot was closed. The main features of the Temple are large statues of Buddha along with images from the Ramakien. Behind the temple is a reclining Buddha along the Klong. Temple also of Rahu, every end of the year there is a prayer ceremony for Phra Rahu, open to the public.
A temple for the photographers
Open 7 am – 6 pm
Continue on the back of the temple, cross the bridge and you are in Wat Pak Nam
Wat Pak Nam “monastery at the mouth of the river”
Visible from the BTS stations, a massive 80-meter-high white stupa, called Maharatchamongkhon, which means “a blessed and great land”. A royal temple part of the Maha Nikaya fraternity. Completed in 2012, There is a museum on the ground floor, spaces used for ceremonies and also contains a meditation room. Most visitors go directly to the last floor where is the emerald glass pagoda with glass Nagas snakes at its base, and the ceiling painting representing Buddhist cosmology, based on the legend of Phra Malai and the ancient text Traibhumikatha.
* Traibhumikatha, “The Three Worlds”
one of the oldest works of Thai literature. It is a representation of the universe, which consists of three different “worlds” or levels of existence and their inhabitants and creatures partly mythical according to the Thai Buddhist Theravada conception of the time. Traditionally attributed to King Lithai of Sukhothai who ruled from 1347 to 1376
Created in the Ayutthaya period it became well-known thanks to the meditation master Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro, who was abbot there in the first half of the 20th century, his teachings and guided meditations are still on sale and are to this day still very popular. Seven years after his death, Somdet Chuang Varapuño became the new abbot who will make the headlines of the international newspapers from 2015, when his appointment as Supreme Patriarch was blocked and finally withdrawn, provoking intense debate and protest in Thailand,
The Origin of the Dhammakaya Movement
Popular among Mae Chi, one of them, Chandra Khonnokyoong in 1970 with a group of young monks, including Luang Por ‘venerable father’ Dhammajayo started their own temple in Pathum Thani province which later was named Wat Phra Dhammakaya, it is said to be one of the world’s largest temple. Popular and well-supported by a prosperous community of a wealthy social class. In 2014, the abbot was placed under surveillance by the military junta and accused of financial malpractice and money laundering. The 75-year-old has been under arrest since January 2017 and the authorities suspect that he has so far been protected and hidden by some of his two million followers.
Nice panoramic view of Bangkok. Since March 2017, a bronze Buddha is under construction and will reach a height of 69 meters.
Wat Pak Nam rich in history and astonishing, to be included in your list of visits to Bangkok
Open 8 am to 6 pm
Boat Service on Khlong Phasi Charoen
After the visit, I took the 12 o’clock boat. The pier is outside the temple and a little difficult to find. At the exit of the temple, turn right then a little further to the right and follow the Khlong, the pier is about 100 meters away.
Wat Rang Bua Mon temple
On the way is the temple Bang Rua which is one the 3 temples with Pak Nam and Minamoradi the Burmese community in Bangkok visit regularly because abbots from Myanmar coming to meet them in these temples. what attracted me to visit this temple was a “reproduction” of the Kyaiktiyo, golden rock stupa in Myanmar. There are also some nice golden Buddha statues and a local market. But above all, and what I like most is walking through the small (clean) alleys next to the temple among the houses of the working class that lives from day to day, some of them in unhealthy houses without really worrying about what tomorrow will bring. It was a weekday so everyone was at work and the children at school. I have nevertheless met a couple of people who don’t pay attention to you (watch you out of the corners of their eyes), but just a smile or a Sawasdee kap/ka and you are welcome and with whom you can exchange a few words.
There is a school of the same name adjacent to the temple, and also many dogs, be on your guard. Most temples offer refuge to cats and dogs, the Monks or their helpers feed them.
Wat Nimannoradi, Bang Kae Market and Stroll on the Khlongs
The temple Nimannoradi former name was Wat Bang Kae, built during the Rattanakosin period. After years of deterioration, it was renovated at the end of the 19th century by a rich couple and renamed after the wife’s name. The pagoda was built in 1974. Small temple, clean, colorful and nice Buddha statues, many young couples coming here to make wishes. I had lunch in what was once (more than 20 years ago) a popular floating market opposite the temple. Old traditional wooden house, still well maintained today. Some old-style shops and a Thai traditional clinic that treat any illness, paralysis, diabetes, bones problems, sprain, and more, of course, massage. Restaurants with tables set up along the Khlong, soups, and choice of dishes, rice with chicken, pork, fried rice, I had rice with pork leg (Khao Kha Moo) 30 baht, and a Thai iced coffee (Koffee yen) 20 baht. An elderly lady from whom I bought some Thai sweets and had a chat told me that a project for a floating market near the temple was in progress and should be launched in 2020. I will be following up on this one.
Then I went to the market which is one of the largest of Thonburi and Bangkok, vegetables, fruits, cheap clothes, but also small trades and some items that are difficult to find on a market in Bangkok.
To get there, go to the small canal at the back of the temple, walk along and you will arrive in a few minutes in a narrow and slightly dark alley with tiny old shops on the canal, hairdressers, tailors, bric-a-brac, restaurants, massages and others. There are accesses to the footbridges on the canal that will lead you to the wet market. At the end of the canal, you will see small local transport motorboats that you can rent (maow leua) what I did for a visit in the surroundings on the Khlongs, just for fun, and 200 baht for a half-hour stroll, 3 people per boat, 4 if not too heavy. You can rent it for an hour and even return to Bang Wa for 300 baht. The driver’s name is Toun, who was not talkative, offered me to visit a local market (for the same price) but after Bang Kae and my regular visits to Khlong Toei, I had enough.
This is relatively far from tourists destinations and English is not spoken, don’t worry, here people are honest, welcoming and respectful of visitors.
Back to Bang Wa and Long Tail Boat Service to the Chao Phraya
To get back to the BTS Bang Wa station I took a Songthaew taxi on Phet Kasem Road (8 Baht). From the station, I headed towards the pier by the footbridge (after exit 4 take the stairs on the right). I waited 10 minutes to take the new boat service which on a trial basis is free to the end of the year. It runs to Ta Chang Pier on the Chao Phraya River. Three stops at Wat Intaram, the Memorial Bridge and Rajinee pier. The stroll takes about 40 minutes.
Departure from each terminal every 30 minutes from 6 am to 9 am
Every hour from 9 am to 3 pm and from 3 pm to 7 pm
The weekend is from 8 am to 5 pm every 30 minutes. It is also from this pier that you can go to Baan Silapin.
Back Home with the MRT
I got off in Rajinee pier (7) to take the MRT blue line, Sanam Chai station, which was the first day of operation from Hua Lamphong station. Was crowded, all people came to visit this station with Thai art design but also the temptation/thrill to pass under the Chao Phraya. Only 4 trains were in operation, waiting time 15 minutes. It is now fully operational.
Boat Service Easier on Weekends
The service on the Khlong Phasi Charoen, the boat is clean, quiet, comfortable, and low speed
on weekdays every hour from 6 am to 9 pm and from 4 pm to 7 pm
On weekends, there was a boat every hour from 6 am to 7 pm. Unfortunately currently only 2 boats are in service and the schedules have been modified.
From 6 am to 9 am
12 am, 1 pm, and from 4 pm to 7 pm.
A single rate of 15 baht
If you only want to take a boat trip you can go to the last pier and come back. In the near future, there will be the possibility from the Wat Muang to join the MRT at Lak Song station. It is now possible since the 28 of September.
Given the attractiveness of this part of the city, one day is not enough to it all. The visits of the temples, stroll around in the areas and on the Khlongs, I did that in 2 days. The boat service is the weak point to move from one place to another, but fortunately, the MRT will facilitate better access and will allow spending more time where you like.
For those who want to get off the beaten track and meet communities that are still living a bit in the past.
In a comfortable and welcoming environment to stay near Baan Silapin
Elegance, good taste, and quietude
Across from Baan Silapin, Cosy, local life, 2 rooms set directly on the canal
I hope this will be helpful for planning your next trip to Bangkok. If you have any questions, I will be more than happy to help you out.