Sangkhlaburi is a beautiful small Thai town surrounded by mountains and nature. Thanks to its location next to the Burmese border, it has an exciting mix of 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 wonderful activities that could be enjoyed there 📜
Although the most recognizable sight in Sangkhlaburi is its famous handmade wooden bridge. The authentic charm of this town lies in the atmosphere of its streets and its unique mix of travel destinations and activities that it has to explore enthusiastically 🎓
Furthermore, the water levels of Khao Laem Lake change drastically throughout the year, showing or hiding the structure of the Saphan Mon Bridge and the old Buddhist temples that lay on the bottom of the lake. This is yet another ingredient that makes Sangkhlaburi such a special 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. So make sure you enjoy every moment of your visit 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 👨🎓 Local inhabitants built this massive bridge to link the town with Wat Wang Wiwekaram Temple, where a famous Buddhist monk of Mon origins resided 📜
In the dry season, most of the tangled structure is visible. While in the rainy season, the water level is almost as high as the walkway on top of the bridge. So it is no surprise that it has partially collapsed more than once 👨🎓 Saphan Mon is even more impressive during Thailand’s New Year Songkran festival.
In April, a long line of monks crosses the bridge at dawn to collect alms in town and cross it back on their return to the temple a couple of hours later. Besides this, the bridge is one of the favorite spots where locals go to splash water on each other during the Songkran days 🧐
After walking along the Mon Bridge, you can go on a 3 Sunken Temples Boat Tour to see the temples located at the old site of Sangkhlaburi village before they moved uphill to avoid being flooded due to the construction of the Vajiralongkorn Dam.
The 3 Sunken Temples Boat Tour is among the many you can take in Sangkhlaburi. But this one is by far the most popular 📜 The boat tour will take you on a visit to the 3 flooded temples, the Karen's Srisuwan Temple, the old Mon's Wat Wang Wiwekaram temple, and the Thai Wat Somdet temple 🎓 Depending on the time of your visit, the ancient Srisuwan Temple and the old Wat Wang Wiwekaram can be semi-submerged, and you might only be able to see them and not walk around.
To buy the boat tour, you can go to either end of the Mon Bridge, and several guys will ask if you want to take the boat tour. The prices are all written on the sign nearby, so there is no need to worry about them trying to squeeze money out of you 🧐
Srisuwan Karen Temple is the first and oldest where only the ordination hall stands. There is nothing inside, but if you have a drone, this is the best temple to fly around than the other 2 👨🎓 The second temple is the old Wat Wang Wiwekaram. In this Mon temple, you can still see the 3 structures left standing 📜 If the water level is low enough, you can walk around the plain and check out the iconic bell tower and the other two ruins. You will only see the tips of these structures when the water is at its highest level 🎓
The last temple is the Wat Somdet Thai Temple, where you will see an old Buddha image inside the hall 🧐 The temple is built a little higher on the hill, which is why the Buddha image is still left intact. You will have to hike up a bit to get to this temple 🎓
The tour can take 1 - 2 hours, but it depends on how long you want to stay at each temple. The boat operator will wait for you; nevertheless 👨🎓 The 3 Sunken temple tour costs 500 THB for 1-6 people, so if you are visiting in a group, you can split the price. If you are traveling solo, you can ask them 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 👨🎓
Fortunately, not every temple in Sangkhlaburi is submerged under water. On top of a nearby hill, two quite exciting and very different temples can be accessed by walking or by boat from Saphan Mon Bridge, and across the town of Ban Wang Ka 🎓 Buddha Khaya chedi is an impressive towering golden stupa. The design of the chedi is a copy of that of the Indian city of Bodh Gaya, where Buddha is believed to have reached enlightenment 📜
Don’t forget to climb the white tower in front of it, which offers spectacular views of the area. Buddha Khaya’s location on the edge of the lake makes it common to get there by boat and then walk back to town 🧐 Wat Wang Wiwekaram is a much larger Thai-style temple, the most important in the area. It houses a large number of monks, mainly of the Mon ethnic group. It was built in 1953 under the command of the famous monk Luang Phor Uttama, whose mummified body is kept inside 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.
Another one of the most popular activities in Sangkhlaburi is taking a boat to explore Khao Laem Lake. When this dam was built in 1968, a village in the valley was completely submerged 👨🎓 Three of its temples have become tourist attractions that can be visited when the water level is low. The experience is completely different depending on the time of the year. In the driest months, the water doesn’t even reach the temple floor, while in the rainy months, you can only see the tips of their roofs and spires while sailing 🎓
The most famous of the three temples are Wat Saam Prasob 👨🎓 But temples submerged or not, sailing on the vast Khao Laem Lake is recommended throughout the year, as you’ll enjoy the scenery and views, such as many houseboats scattered around the perimeter of the lake. These boats cross the water while transporting 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. In the dry season, when the water in the lake is at its lowest, you can walk the temple grounds and observe the old ruins, which are very different from typical Thai temples 📜 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 weather is cooler and less humid due to Thailand's climate, making it much more enjoyable to ride a scooter around 📜 That said, Thailand in recent years has suffered a lot from air pollution due to the burning season, and extremely prevalent during Thailand's winter period (December-January), so even though the weather is cooler, your visibility might not be the best 👨🎓
March and April are the hottest and most humid period of the year, so if you can't handle heat very well, avoid visiting during this time. The air quality may be a bit better during this time though it's not guaranteed 🎓
: In a way that is likely to have a strong or far-reaching effect.
: A large, imposing building.
: Shining with sparkling light.
: (especially in ancient Egypt) preserve (a body) by embalming and wrapping it in cloth.
: Manage to get into or through a narrow or restricted space.
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