Nestled amidst scenic mountains and lush greenery, Sangkhlaburi is a picturesque and charming town in Thailand. Due to its proximity to the Burmese border, the town boasts a fascinating blend of diverse cultures 👨🎓 In addition; it is an excellent destination for those looking to avoid Thailand’s crowdy tourist destinations. It wouldn’t surprise if one-day Sangkhlaburi becomes popular as an adventurous alternative to the typically crowded cities with unique and beautiful activities that could be enjoyed there 📜
Undoubtedly, the iconic handmade wooden bridge stands out as the most prominent landmark in Sangkhlaburi. However, the town's true essence lies in the ambiance of its bustling streets and the plethora of exciting travel destinations and activities that await exploration with fervor 🎓
Adding to its allure, the water levels of Khao Laem Lake undergo significant fluctuations throughout the year, revealing or concealing the magnificent structure of the Saphan Mon Bridge and the ancient Buddhist temples resting at the lake's bottom. This adds yet another dimension to the uniqueness of Sangkhlaburi, making it a truly extraordinary place 👨🎓
However, can you imagine a day of traveling to those stunning locations in Sangkhlaburi City in a boat? 🧐 In short, there are many adventures to explore in the city. One way to do it is by taking the Sangklaburi boat tour. Be sure to relish every moment of your trip to the city 🎓
If talking about places in Thailand that must be visited once in a lifetime, one of them probably has to be Sangkhlaburi 👨🎓 The simple lifestyle, friendly people, and unique attractions make this small city full of charm that must be seen with your own eyes at least once.
Whether it's summer, you will be able to see the underwater city and the submerged temple most beautifully and clearly, or the rainy season where the mist floats to make you feel relaxed, and winter, where the weather is so cool that you don't have to go up north 📜 If you want to chill, you are invited to check in with my Sangklaburi Boat Tour Adventure Guide, that invites you to experience the charm and wonder of Sangkhlaburi. So, if you still don't know where to go on your next trip, don't forget to share the delight of Sangkhlaburi through a boat tour 🧐
The main highlight of Sangkhlaburi that should not be missed is the Mon Bridge, where you will be guided by a boatman and take you down to the pier, which is adjacent to the Mon Bridge 🧐 I do not recommend calling to reserve in advance. I want you to visit and see the boat yourself first because there are many sizes and designs to choose from 🎓
Saphan Mon is Thailand's longest handmade wooden bridge. Spanning 450 meters and the most famous sight in Sangkhlaburi 👨🎓 The local residents constructed the Mon Bridge on a grand scale to connect Sangkhlaburi with the renowned Wat Wang Wiwekaram Temple, which was home to a well-known Mon Buddhist monk 📜
During the dry season, the majority of the intricate structure is visible, but during the rainy season, the water level reaches almost as high as the walkway atop the bridge. As a result, it has experienced several partial collapses over time. 👨🎓 Saphan Mon is even more remarkable during Thailand's New Year Songkran festival.
During April, a long procession of monks crosses the bridge at dawn to collect alms in the town, returning a few hours later to the temple by crossing the bridge again. Additionally, locals enjoy splashing water on each other during the Songkran festival, and the bridge is a popular location for this activity 🧐
Once you've strolled across the Mon Bridge, consider embarking on a 3 Sunken Temples Boat Tour to explore the temples situated at the former location of Sangkhlaburi village 🎓 The temples were relocated to higher ground to evade flooding caused by the construction of the Vajiralongkorn Dam. Of all the boat tours offered in Sangkhlaburi, the 3 Sunken Temples Boat Tour is the most popular.
The 3 Sunken Temples Boat Tour offers the opportunity to visit three temples that are now submerged: the Srisuwan Temple belonging to the Karen people; the Wat Wang Wiwekaram Temple belonging to the old Mon community, and the Thai Wat Somdet Temple 📜 It's worth noting that the ancient Srisuwan Temple and the old Wat Wang Wiwekaram may be partially submerged depending on your visit, making it impossible to explore them on foot.
To purchase the 3 Sunken Temples Boat Tour, you can approach any of the several guys located at either end of the Mon Bridge who will offer the tour. No need to worry about being overcharged as the prices for the boat tour are clearly displayed on a sign nearby.
The first and oldest temple on tour is the Srisuwan Karen Temple, which only has the ordination hall remaining. While there is nothing inside the hall, this temple is the best one to fly a drone around if you have one.
The second temple is the old Wat Wang Wiwekaram, a Mon temple where three structures still stand. If the water level is low enough, you can explore the plain and observe the iconic bell tower and two other ruins. At its peak, the water level will merely reveal the uppermost sections of these edifices.
The final temple on tour is the Wat Somdet Thai Temple, where you can find an old Buddha image inside the hall. This temple is higher up on the hill, and you'll need to hike a bit to get there.
The tour duration can vary from 1-2 hours depending on the time you spend at each temple. The boat operator will wait for you, regardless. The 3 Sunken Temples Boat Tour costs 500 THB for 1-6 people, making it affordable to split the price if traveling in a group. Solo travelers may also ask for a discount.
Now, it is time to take you on a boat ride to see the old temple Wat Wang Wiwekaram (New), commonly known as "Wat Luang Phor Uttama'' 🎓 It is the center of the minds of people of many nationalities who live in Sangkhlaburi District, including Thais, Karen people, and Thai people of Mon descent. There are many important places, such as the castle of nine peaks Marble Temple and the ubosot of Wat Wang Wiwekaram 👨🎓 But on the other side of the temple, there is another important place. The model of Bodh Gaya Pagoda creates a model from Bodh Gaya Pagoda in India.
Luang Por Uttama initiated the construction in 1976 and was completed in 1986. It is smaller than the real Bodh Gaya Chedi in India. The base is square. There are 2 lion statues in Mon art, standing guard in front of the stairs leading up to the pagoda 📜 It is believed to protect the pagodas on either side of the entrance stairs. On the top of the pagoda enshrines the Buddha's relics that Luang Por Uttama brought from Sri Lanka for worship 👨🎓
Luckily, not all temples in Sangkhlaburi are submerged in water. Situated atop a nearby hill, two distinct and exciting temples can be reached by foot or boat from Saphan Mon Bridge. Across the town of Ban Wang Ka 🎓 Buddha Khaya Chedi is a remarkable golden stupa that looms impressively. It is modeled after the design of the stupa in Bodh Gaya, India, where it is believed that Buddha attained enlightenment 📜
Don't miss out on the opportunity to climb the white tower in front of it, which offers breathtaking views of the area. Because Buddha Khaya is situated on the edge of the lake, it is often reached by boat and then by foot to return to town 🧐 Wat Wang Wiwekaram is a substantially larger Thai-style temple and the most significant one in the area. It is home to a large number of monks, primarily from the Mon ethnic group. The temple was constructed in 1953 under the leadership of the revered monk Luang Phor Uttama, whose mummified body is preserved within the temple 📜
Wat Somdet is a Buddhist temple perched on a small hill at the beginning of the road which goes up to the Phu Ruea National Park 🧐 It is worth a visit either on the way up or down the park and can be an interesting viewpoint to watch the sunset 🎓
The highlight is the ubosot (ordination hall) in carved teak wood, which houses a magnificent Buddha image named Phra Phuutha Chao Phaisatchaya Khuru Waithunyaprapha Chom Phaet or Phra Kring Powaret, an image of Buddha in the attitude of submitting Mara with the left hand holding a jar of holy water 👨🎓
There are also wall paintings on which you will recognize representations of King Rama 9 📜 In addition to the ordination hall, the surrounding area has four vihara rai, which consecrates essential images of Buddha, including one lying in Nirvana attitude carved in Mekong Jade. But the element that can be seen from afar is the golden chedi 🧐
Another temple you might have seen from the boat tour is the Chedi Phutthakhaya. It is a tall golden Indian-style pagoda towering over the Mon Village and the lake 👨🎓 The gold pagoda stood out from the rest of the landscape like a sore thumb. You can't miss it 🎓
Within the temple, you can climb up to the temple ground, walk around the base of the golden pagoda, and appreciate the detail up close 📜 It looks surprisingly modern to the point of futuristic, which is rare to find in religious buildings 🎓
🧑🎓 Quick Trivia!
A handful of Sangkhlaburi boat drivers offer trips of varying lengths on Vajiralongkorn Lake. It’s also possible to arrange a boat in person at the docks by the wooden bridge. If you’ve got some stamina, the sunken town can also be reached by canoe in a couple of hours.
One of the most sought-after activities in Sangkhlaburi is taking a boat ride to explore Khao Laem Lake. In 1968, a valley village was completely submerged when the dam was constructed 👨🎓 Three of its temples have since become popular tourist attractions that can be visited when the water level is low. The experience varies depending on the time of year, with the water level being lowest during the driest months and only the tips of the temple roofs and spires visible during the rainy months 🎓 Among the three temples, Wat Saam Prasob is the most renowned 👨🎓
However, regardless of whether the temples are submerged or not, sailing on the vast Khao Laem Lake is recommended all year round. One can relish the beautiful scenery and sights, including numerous houseboats scattered along the lake's perimeter. These boats transport children to school or flocks of birds catching their fishy meals 🧐 Between 1979 and 1984, the Vajiralongkorn Dam was built across the Khwae River, creating a reservoir that entirely submerged a village that once stood in the area 📜
Today, Khao Laem Lake (Khao Laem Reservoir), located in Kanchanaburi Province in Western Thailand, measures some 37 miles (60 kilometers) long and 15 miles (25 kilometers) wide — a vast area that has developed swamps, mangroves, and forest habitats along its banks 🎓 A boat trip to the location of the submerged town will reveal some of the most stunning scenery found in Thailand.
A typical lake trip by long tail boat lasts around an hour, and they start from the banks near the floating bridge 🧐 Some guesthouses will arrange trips for you, usually costing around 300 Thai Baht. You can also rent a canoe which will reach the sunken village within two hours 🎓
Suppose you start your trip early in the morning. In that case, you will enjoy the spectacular sunlight over the lake and see the distant smoke from the seabank dwellings rising against the backdrop of the blood-red sky 👨🎓 Along the bank; you will see the Mon villagers in their bamboo floating houses. Further afield, you will spot the lofty Buddhakaya chedi with its golden reflection glistening on the water's surface.
Proceeding across the lake in a southerly direction, you will come across the bell tower of Wat Samprasob, the highest point of the old village before the lake submerged it 📜 Near the bell tower is the top of the temple's main hall, the only other building still visible from the submerged village. Set against a backdrop of mountains and morning mist, these two remaining towers of the long-drowned town make the trip particularly magical 🧐
Local and international visitors come for the serene atmosphere and leisure activities, including boat tours, canoeing, and fishing for giant snakehead, jungle perch, and Indian carp 📜 Local guest houses often take the form of floating homes, allowing visitors to spend a night right on the surface of the lake or even travel to various points on the lake via a houseboat 👨🎓
This place is reminiscent of a mini Atlantis, so you may wonder if it is a submerged temple; how will you be able to see it? 🧐 The temple grounds are located in what is today a lake that is part of the Khao Laem Dam. A sightseeing tour of Kanchanaburi will sometimes include this temple as part of the tour route. But the best time to see the temple is from January to March 🎓
This temple was deliberately flooded as part of the dam construction in recent years. During the dry season, when the water levels in the lake are at their lowest, it is possible to walk on the temple grounds and observe the ancient ruins. These ruins are distinct from typical Thai temples and offer a unique experience 📜 This temple was constructed by the Mons and Karen tribespeople who originated from Burma, hence the difference in architectural construction and decor 👨🎓
During the wet season, you take a boat ride from the Mon Bridge to the lake; you will be able to see the tallest structure, which is the steeple of the stupa, as well as the main entranceway to the temple 🧐 A morning boat ride is best when mist shrouds the lake and is the site for very good pictures of a mysterious temple lying hidden in the deep green waters of the lake. Last but not necessarily least, your tour of Kanchanaburi temples will include the twin sisters, Wat Tham Sua and Wat Tham Khao Noi 🎓
These two temples are unique in that they are located side by side but constructed in different architectural styles 📜 The beauty of these two temples is stunning. Located on the top of a hill that overlooks most of Kanchanaburi's farmlands, river, and mountains, it is a sight to behold. The temples are of Thai architecture for Wat Tham Sua and Chinese architecture for Wat Tham Khao Noi. This means you see Thai temple chedis and Chinese Pagodas in the other 🎓
The intricate carvings and sculptures of these two temples are fascinating. The highlight of the Thai temple is the largest gold Buddha in Thailand which sits in a blessed position enclosed on the flanks by a shell structure 👨🎓
The best time to visit Sangkhlaburi for boat tours is from November to January, when the climate is more relaxed and less humid, making exploring the area on a scooter much more pleasant. However, it's worth noting that Thailand has experienced significant air pollution in recent years, particularly during the burning season, which is prevalent during Thailand's winter period (December-January). Consequently, the visibility may not be optimal while the weather is cooler.
If you cannot tolerate excessive heat, avoid visiting Sangkhlaburi during March and April, the hottest and most humid periods of the year. The air quality may be somewhat better during this time, though it's not guaranteed 🎓
: in a manner that is apt to exert a potent or extensive impact
: a large, imposing building
: shining with sparkling light
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