Just an hour’s drive from the capital of Thailand is located the city of Nakhon Pathom, which is known for its mysterious and bewitching Dragon Temple – Wat Sam Phran.
This construction is truly fascinating, because it was made as a 17-storey round tower entwined in a spiral by a giant dragon.
From a distance, the building looks more like a theme park than a sacred religious place.
The temple is located away from the main touristic routes, it’s difficult to find it in guidebooks, it has practically no history or data on by whom and when it was built, but so much more it intrigues, appeals to the imagination and attracts travelers from all over the world.
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Who Built Wat Samphran?
There is no exact data on the period of the temple construction, as well as any details about its architect.
The official opening year of the shrine is 1985.
Locals say that the temple was built by the Bhāvanā Buddhist wave, after being for seven days in a deep meditation and observing a fast its founder was inspired to build such an extraordinary place.
The height of the building is 80 meters, which refers to the age of the Buddha, according to religious sources, he died at the age of 80 years old.
The sacred place was supposed to become the center of meditation and Buddhist school, but, unfortunately, the construction was never completed.
The Thais themselves are a little shy to talk about this temple, because a few years ago there was a big scandal here – the temple abbot was caught in the sexual abuse of minors, furthermore the nuns often supplied him with innocent victims.
Despite this fact, the temple does not lose at all any of its attractiveness among tourists.
Coordinates Of The Place
หมู่ที่ 7 92/8 Sam Phran, Sam Phran District, Nakhon Pathom 73110
It is located near the police academy and the Rose Garden, about 1 km from the highway connecting Bangkok with this province.
There are not many tall buildings here, so the temple will be visible even from a long distance.
How Do You Get To The Dragon Temple In Bangkok?
In Bangkok you can take a bus following the route Bangkok – Sam Phran.
Current route number is 84 (AC), but this may be changed from time to time.
The bus departs from a bus stop located in front of the BTS Bang Wa MRT Station (dark green line)
Or from Lak Song MRT Station (blue line).
Be sure to ask the driver to drop you off at the temple bus stop.
The ticket fare is about 25 baht.
From the bus stop you can walk or take a taxi; the temple is already noticeable from there so you won’t get lost.
Take a bus to the city of Nakhon Pathom and after arriving there take a taxi to your destination.
The whole journey will take about 2 hours one way.
In Bangkok you can take a bus from Victory Monument (Ratchawithi Side) to Central Salaya shopping center, current route number is 515.
From the opposite side of the mall you can take a taxi to Wat Sam Phran and in 15 minutes you will be there.
For ease of navigation, you can use the ViaBus or Moovit apps to find the most convenient way to reach the temple.
If you are traveling within a large group, then the most comfortable and fastest way to get to the temple is to take a taxi in Bangkok.
The fare will be approximately 400-600 baht one way, and the whole journey will take about one hour.
In order to get back to Bangkok, you need to go outside of the temple and search for a taxi there, because there is no Grab or Uber in this area.
Some drivers offer round trip arrangements and they are ready to wait for you while you explore the temple.
One Small Tip…
If you plan to take photos of Wat Sam Phran in full size, you should know that it is quite difficult.
The place is surrounded by a large number of trees and marshland.
The best way is to go out of the temple to the main road so that a local sports complex will be on the right side from you, then to move forward to the end of the road till you reach an open field.
This is a good spot for taking an impressive full-length shot of the beautiful tower wrapped up by the green dragon.
What Is The Ticket Price?
The entrance to the shrine territory is free, but the temple employees will extensively ask you for donations, for example, for visiting some shrine areas or watching religious rituals.
Here there are many sacred places that make you very tempted to make a wish and leave a coin.
For example, a well surrounded by dragons on all its sides.
They say you should think about one of your strong desires and throw a coin to the well.
According to superstitious belief after doing this ritual your desire will definitely come true.
Behind the main entrance there is a small copy of the temple, so if you make a wish and raise it above your head quite easily, your wish should also come true soon.
In other cases, in order to be on a roll, you should touch the dragon’s tail, throw a coin into a pot there and hit the gong.
You’ll see quite a lot of pots of happiness here, so if you’re ready to get good luck for the whole next year, it is better to prepare a lot of small coins in advance.
On the first floor of the temple there is a statue of the White Elephant, and they say that if you touch his feet, it will make you more healthy, strong and enduring.
What To Wear?
It’s strictly prohibited to enter the temple with open shoulders or a low neckline.
You must wear long trousers or long skirts and at the entrance you need to take off your shoes.
All guests should stay quiet in the temple rooms and should not touch the statues by your hands.
The tower has seventeen floors, there is an elevator, but it is not allowed to use it.
Only the first ten floors are available for tourists.
The nuns usually warn guests that the elevator is out of order, but the locals say that tourists are not allowed into the elevator for a totally different reason.
The idea is that when a person rises to the top of the Temple along the dark stairs, metaphorically speaking, he/she makes the transition from the physical world to the spirit realm.
This is quite difficult for example for women in long skirts, because the dense texture and a lot of humidity in the air makes it heavier.
What Is A Dragon Temple?
One of the temple floors is an entrance to the body of the dragon.
Empty from the inside it provides a concrete tunnel without windows and light, through which it is possible to climb to the temple roof. There is nothing more interesting there.
Territory of the temple has a beautiful garden with Buddha statues, flowers and fountains, as well as images of monkeys, elephants, snakes and other animals from Buddhist mythology.
These are all symbols of Buddhism and nature, with which the humans must constantly be in harmony.
The Turtle Bunker is also located there.
This is a huge concrete dungeon, the purpose of which is not entirely clear, and part of it is being flooded.
What’s The Vibe?
The temple and its grounds are remarkably calm and uncrowded most of the time.
You can deeply feel the atmosphere of fascinating Thai authenticity here, with a combination of bright surroundings and a deep respect for Buddhist precepts and iconography.
The few visitors that can be found here are mostly locals and rare tourists.
Unfortunately, at the moment the temple is still unknown among travelers from other countries.
Although this amazing building deserves more attention, care and proper treatment, which could be supported by income from increased number of visitors.
If you like this article you might be interested in my post about a cool Benjakitti Park in Bangkok and ideas about where to stay there.