Wat Paknam is a 32,000 square metres (7.9 acres) temple complex, with a large number of buildings. The temple’s grounds are shaped like an island, surrounded by canals. The temple has a clear separation of the living areas for monks and mae chi. The temple is popular among mae chi (nuns). One of them, Mae chi Chandra Khonnokyoong, went on to establish another temple which later became widely known as Wat Phra Dhammakaya.
Wat Paknam is well-known for its five-floor grand pagoda, at the top of which you’ll find the very beautiful emerald-glass pagoda. It is a large and popular temple, supported by prosperous community members.
Wat Paknam has lot of interesting things to see and do such as:
Gardens and waterfalls – The beautiful gardens within the temple compound lend a peaceful background to the temple buildings.
Museum – Wat Paknam asked people to donate second-hand belongings of educational value to the museum in the stupa. As a result, there’s an eclectic and interesting range on display, from classic cars to Thai aritfacts.
Painted dome inside the stupa – This amazingly detailed, neon coloured painted dome inspires awe in travellers and locals alike. Spend some time appreciating this amazing work.
Cats and dogs – In Thailand, most temples offer refuge to cats and dogs. Not all temples, but most temples. Monks feed and care for the cats and dogs and they do what cats and dogs do, which is have kittens and puppies. So if you visit the Temples of Thailand you are going to see some cats and dogs! The Monks feed the animals, or their helpers feed them, and how much food the they get depends on the temple you are visiting.
Somdet Chuang finished building the huge stupa at the temple in 2012. Named ‘Maharatchamongkhon’, it means ‘a blessed, great land’. It refers to Thailand under the reign of the Royal Family, to which the stupa has been dedicated. It also refers to Somdet Chuang’s honorary name. The 80-meter-high stupa has a twelve-sided polygon shape with five floors, including another glass stupa, a room with filled with relics, Buddha images and images of respected monks, including that of Luang Pu Sodh. The structure also contains a meditation hall, a museum, a parking lot, and a lift. The design is partly based on the shape of Luang Pu Sodh’s well-known amulets, and partly on the stupa of Wat Lok Moli in Chiangmai, showing both Rattanakosin and Lanna style influences. Within the top of the Maharatchamongkhon stupa, Pali phrases have been carved into gold, praising mindfulness, moderation, and the upholding of the five precepts. The halls within are exquisitely decorated with paintings depicting Buddhist cosmology, based on the legend of Phra Malai and the ancient text Traibhumikatha. The life of Luang Pu Sodh and that of Somdet Chuang are also depicted. The stupa was finished in 2012, costing a total of 500 million baht. The top floor of the magnificent stupa features an incredible domed ceiling with neon-colored images. From there, you can step out onto the balcony for a panoramic view of the city.
In March 2017, Wat Paknam began building a bronze Buddha image in honor of the Royal Family. The Buddha image will be 69 meters tall and placed before the stupa.
A kitchen supplies the food for the inhabitants, a system that has been in place since the time of Luang Pu Sodh. Considering the large number of temples in the area, and the dispersed, urban community that supports Wat Paknam, the kitchen has been more convenient than the traditional alms round. Nevertheless, monks of the temple still go on alms rounds.
Wat Paknam isn’t easy to find. It’s located south-east of the centre of Bangkok across the Chao Phraya River. Wat Paknam Temple is located on Toed Thai Road, Phasi Charoen, Thonburi, and is accessible by road or by river boat from Tha Chang or Tha Saphan Phut pier. Ask your guide for the best way to incorporate a visit to Wat Paknam into your tour.
With 33,000 temples across the country, no Thailand adventure is complete without a little temple hopping. The major tours guide most people to the iconic temples in Bangkok and Ayutthaya, but Wat Paknam is definitely worth taking the time to visit. Wat Paknam is in an area that most travellers never go to and is one of the best places to experience Thai local living.
Remember, it is advised that you wear non-revealing clothes when visit. You’ll need to remove your shoes, and you will need to behave appropriately.