Wat Khanon Nang Yai: Where Tradition Meets Art in Ratchaburi470
BY The Bear Travelers

Wat Khanon Nang Yai: Where Tradition Meets Art in Ratchaburi

Ratchaburi emerges as a captivating destination for art and culture enthusiasts, situated a mere 1.5-hour drive from Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok). A prominent attraction in this province is the Wat Khanon Nang Yai Museum, housed in a beautifully crafted Thai-style building.

The museum is also devoted to preserving and showcasing the exquisite art of 'Nang Yai,' one of Thailand's oldest and culturally significant theatrical art forms. With roots tracing back to the era of King U-thong of Ayutthaya, this museum offers a captivating journey into the rich cultural heritage of Thailand.Large Shadow Play Found Thailand Nang Yai Shadow Figures Wat Khanon Temple

Public displays of Nang Yai are relatively scarce often organized for exhibition purposes only. However, Wat Khanon in Ratchaburi province is a notable exception. Every Saturday, the temple hosts a Nang Yai performance, playing a crucial role in preserving this ancient form of performing art.

For enthusiasts and curious visitors alike, the Wat Khanon Nang Yai Museum offers a fascinating showcase of Nang Yai in its daily conditions. The museum features large-scale leather crafts adorned with traditional Thai designs, providing a captivating glimpse into the rich tapestry of Thai performing art and culture. Join us as we embark on a virtual Ratchaburi tour of the Wat Khanon Nang Yai Museum.


The Bear Travel Fun Fact!

Wat Khanon Nang Yai is supposed to be a temple that preserves the arts of Nang Yai shadow play and obtained a UNESCO award to be The Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre (ACCU) in June 2007. It has been regarded as 1 of the 6 exceptional communities in the world with contributions to the conservation and improvement of intangible cultural heritage.



A Wonderland for Art Enthusiasts

Ratchaburi Thailand Travelers Thai Women Travel Visit Respect Praying Buddha God Angel Wat Khanon Temple Ban Pong City Ratchaburi Thailand

Located at Wat Khanon in Soi Fah Sub-district, along the Mae Klong River, approximately 10 kilometers from Photharam District in Ratchaburi Province, the Khanon National Museum is a testament to Thai architectural style.

Dedicated to showcasing Nang Yai, or Shadow Play, the museum provides insights into its history and the intricate process of crafting flat articulated figures, known as shadow puppets. The museum houses 313 well-preserved puppets, predominantly featuring characters from the "Ramakien" epic. These characters are divided into episodes, such as Hanuman Tawai Waen, Sahasa Kumar, and Burning Lanka, the First Indrajit's Battle.

Originally established as a Royal Development Project of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the museum reflects the princess's recognition of the cultural significance of shadow theatre. The elaborate puppet carvings, accompanied by the music from the Thai grand orchestra and the puppeteers' dialogues, led to the princess's directive to protect this prestigious theatrical art form.

The initiative was spearheaded by Phra Kru Sattha Sunthorn (Luang Phu Glom), the former abbot of Wat Khanon during the reign of King Rama V. With craftsmanship knowledge, he conceptualized the creation of puppets, and Kru Ang, a leader of Ratchaburi's Khon performance group, along with local craftsmen, produced the initial set of grand puppets known as the Hanuman Tawai Waen collection. Subsequently, nine collections were created, becoming the property of the temple.

Wat Khanon stands out as one of the few temples in Thailand with its own theatre, puppets, and puppeteers. The temple hosts shadow plays, and the museum is open to visitors every day from 8 in the morning to 5:30 in the afternoon. Additionally, there is a weekly shadow play performance for an hour on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., featuring students from Wat Khanon School. For weekday group visits, contacting the temple in advance is advisable, and a 2,500 Thai Baht entrance fee is applicable.


The Bear Travel Trivia

Wat Khanon Nang Yai is one of the few Thai temples with a dedicated show. Under the temple's patronage, the intricate puppets and the performers have continued to present the Nang Yai shadow show.



Unveiling the Wat Khanon Nang Yai's Historical Journey

Ratchaburi Thailand Buddha Statues Travelers Thai People Travel Visit Respect Praying Wat Khanon Temple Ban Pong City Ratchaburi Thailand

Wat Khanon Nang Yai, constructed during the reign of King Rama V, stands as a testament to Thai cultural heritage. The visionary behind the intricate shadow puppet carvings was Phrakhru Sattha Sunthon, also known as Luang Pu Klom. He aspired to create a larger-than-life Nang Yai, leading to the crafting of the first set of Nang Yai puppets named "Hanuman Tawai Waen." This endeavor involved collaboration with craftsmen Aung, Chang, Cha, and Phung. Subsequently, nine more sets were produced, resulting in a total of 313 sets at present.

Nang Yai is a significant aspect of Thai culture and a royal performance art. The show integrates various artistic elements, including Thai painting design, elegant Thai leather carving, dance, and music. As a result, Nang Yai showcases the ingenuity of Thai ancestors, reflecting their mastery of multiple artistic domains.



Decoding the Traditional Art of Nang Yai

Large Shadow Play Found Thailand Nang Yai Shadow Figures Wat Khanon Temple

Nang Yai is a traditional art form, a local theater preserved by Wat Khanon, and it comes to life through the intricate process of outlining characters by cutting dried skins of cows or oxen. The play of light on these skins, shaping shadows, is skillfully staged by dancers and puppeteers. The performance may be complemented by music and songs.

Approximately forty skins, each intricately crafted, are affixed to illuminated walls, portraying characters from the Ramakien, the Thai adaptation of the Ramayana. Live demonstrations are presented on-site every Saturday morning, with special emphasis during the Songkran festival on April 13 and 14 each year, marking the Thai New Year.

The festival showcases vibrant celebrations, making it an ideal time to experience the art form in all its glory. Beyond the festive occasions, adjacent to a museum dedicated to King Rama IX, a wooden pavilion provides a space to appreciate these masterpieces. The museum serves as a cultural enrichment destination and is a must-visit when exploring the province of Ratchaburi.



Delving into the Art of Shadow Puppetry

Traditional South Thailand Shadow Puppet Show in Thailand

Nang Yai is a cultural gem in Thailand, recognized as a highly esteemed performing art. Every Saturday at 10:00 a.m., Wat Khanon, a Buddhist temple in Ratchaburi Province, just a few hours west of Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok), hosts a traditional Nang Yai "Grand Shadow Puppet" Show.

The performance, lasting about an hour, features traditional Thai dancing, music, and the mesmerizing art of shadow puppetry. Although the narration is in Thai, the visual spectacle is captivating for all, regardless of language barriers. The show is offered free of charge, with contributions graciously accepted to support the preservation of this historical art form.

Unfortunately, Nang Yai is facing the risk of extinction, as traditional shadow puppetry is gradually disappearing across Thailand. Wat Khanon's dedicated efforts to sustain and promote this performance are crucial in preserving the rich cultural heritage associated with Nang Yai.



Why Visit Wat Khanon Nang Yai in Ratchaburi?

Traditional Southern Thailand Shadow Puppet Show in Thailand

Honored as a sophisticated performance, "Nang Yai" (grand shadow play) stands as a Thai cultural treasure. This grand shadow play encompasses various forms of invaluable art, notably featuring the intricate design of beautiful Thai decorative patterns and the meticulous skills of sculptors.

Once the performance commences, the aesthetics of dramatic arts play a pivotal role, bringing forth precise movements that align with the narrative's mood. Combined with narration, dialogue, songs, and music, the performance seamlessly unfolds the story, engaging the audience and invoking the appropriate aesthetic senses.

The grand shadow play is thus esteemed for presenting exceptional aesthetic value while showcasing the masterful creativity of Thai ancestors.



How to Visit Wat Khanon Nang Yai in Ratchaburi?

Aerial View Landscape Cityscape Ratchaburi City House Home with Traffic Road Life Lifestyle Local Thai People Khao Kaen Chan Hill Top Viewpoint Ratchaburi Thailand

If you're traveling by private car, follow these directions: Take highway no. 4 (Phetkasem Road), passing through Nakhon Pathom en route to Ratchaburi. Continue on the road under the bridge to Kanchanaburi, passing Ko Nom Nong Po Ratchaburi Cooperative until you reach the Bang Pae intersection. Keep left at this point (avoid crossing the bridge) and proceed to the next intersection.

At the next intersection, turn right towards Potharam District and follow highway no—3080 for approximately 5.4 kilometers. Then, you may cross the bridge over the Mae Klong River and encounter a crossing. Take a right to continue on Highway No. 3089 for about 2.5 kilometers, and you will find Wat Khanon on your right.

Potharam Tour Co., Ltd. operates buses to Wat Khanon if you prefer to take a bus. These buses depart from Bangkok Bus Terminal (South) daily, with departures from 6.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.


The Bear Travel Did you know?

The Nang Yai performance occurs in a dimly lit room with the screen positioned in front, and the light placed behind it. This arrangement allows the audience to observe the detailed craftsmanship of the figures carved on the cowhide.




Map & More Information 

Wat Khanon Nang Yai Museum is where Thai people play Nang Yai or Large Puppets Shadow Play for show travelers at Wat Khanon in Ratchaburi, Thailand. Wat Khanon is one of the few temples with its own Nang Yai troupe, which has regularly continued its operation. Thus, Wat Khanon has played an essential role in the conservation of Nang Yai in the country. 

Wat Khanon Nang Yai where Tradition Meets Art in Ratchaburi


Entrance Fees


Business Address

Nang Yai Museum, Khanon Temple, Soi Fa Subdistrict, Photharam District, Ratchaburi Province 70120

Business Hours

08:00 - 17:30  |  Monday to Sunday

Phone Number

+66 (0) 89-555-4195


13.7263438, 99.8447014



Written by
The Bear Travelers

Hi! We're The Bear Travelers, passionate about exploring the world with friends, family, and loved ones. Join us on our spectacular journey as we dive into chosen destinations and share unforgettable experiences, capturing the essence of travel through engaging posts.


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