Wat Kai Bang Kung and Bang Kung Camp

Buddhist temple and warrior camp

Photo of Wat Kai Bang Kung and Bang Kung Camp, , Amphawa

What we say: 4 stars

The prime attraction is an Ayutthaya-era stone ubosot that's been entirely overtaken by a few species of banyan trees, including the sacred Bodhi tree. The trees are so thick that from a short distance away we were unable to decipher any building there at all.

A cool and mystical air pervades the temple's small interior, where the faithful place gold leaf on the large Ayutthaya-era seated Buddha image. Some banyan roots have snaked through the open-air windows, and one gets the sense that the temple's walls and ceilings and the massive roots and branches are all interconnected. Great photos can be taken of the sparkling Buddha through the windows on either side of the building.

Right next to Wat Bang Kung is a memorial to Bang Kung Camp, once a strategic naval outpost that never fell into the hands of the surrounding Burmese forces after the old Thai capital of Ayutthaya was seized in 1767. After the defeat at Ayutthaya, general (and later king) Taksin diverted many of his seafaring forces here after Burmese ships blocked the route to the gulf.

Hundreds of Chinese warriors are said to have joined the Thai warriors, and together with Taksin they repelled a 1768 Burmese invasion. It was a pivotal battle seen by historians as the victory that once and for all turned the tide of the war towards the Thai side.

The camp is still considered a symbolic bastion of Thai warrior strength, evidenced today by a statue of King Taksin flanked by life-size statues of Chinese warriors. Dozens of life-size statues of Thai kick-boxers displaying different Muay Thai moves were added in the late 20th century, the overall result being a curious juxtaposition of peaceful Buddhist temple and rather violent looking statues all in the same grounds.

More details
How to get there: The temple/camp are located on the main road that hugs the western side of the Mae Khlong river just north of Amphawa. It's possible to get here by bicycle, tuk tuk or by hiring a boat in town.
Last updated: 12th November, 2012

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