Wat Prayoon

Some fancy miniature houses for dead relatives Some fancy miniature houses for dead relatives

Close to the banks of the Chao Phraya River, not far from Wat Arun, the temple of the Dawn, is Wat Prayoon. Built by Rama III early in the nineteenth century, the first thing a visitor sees on entering the temple is the large mound, said to have been designed by the king after he observed the shapes that wax forms as it drips from a candle. The mound is covered with various shrines to departed loved ones in every size and style. There are chedis, spirit houses and even the odd doll house. On one side is a small grotto as well.

A big group of turtles sunning themselves at the base of the mound A big group of turtles sunning themselves at the base of the mound

The mound sits in pool of shallow water filled with turtles. Several different species of turtles are represented, and you can feed them with papaya and other fruits on sale at a stall in one corner of the courtyard containing the mound.

Behind the mound are the temple buildings proper, although the first structure you will come to after exiting the back of the courtyard is the crematorium. The bot and wiharn are richly decorated with multi-colored mirrored tiles around the windows, doors and at the gable ends.

The towering white chedi (pagoda) The towering white chedi (pagoda)

At the very back of the temple compound is a large white chedi very much in the Ayutthaya style. This is the only large chedi of its type which was completed in Bangkok -- King Rama II attempted to build a similar one at the eastern gate of the city, but the ground would not support it and the chedi collapsed, later becoming the Golden Mount. The pagoda underwent a massive renovation in 2007 and now appears bright white. During the reconstruction, a large number of amulets and Buddha statues were found in a cache withing the chedi. These items are now on display in a small museum next to the pagoda.

Wat Prayoon is at the southern edge of what used to be the Portuguese community back when Bangkok was founded 220 years ago. About 10 minutes walk through narrow alleys from Wat Prayoon is the church of Santa Cruz, at what used to be the heart of the Portuguese community. A riverside walkway runs from the Memorial Bridge near Wat Prayoon all the way up to Wat Kalayanamit

Getting There

Wat Prayoon is at the western foot of the Memorial Bridge. You can easily reach it by the Chao Phraya River Express boat service by alighting at the Memorial Bridge pier and walking over the bridge across the river.