Now a mere shadow of its 17th-century glory, Wat Choeng Tha was once situated in front of the royal boatyard, directly across the Lopburi River from the Royal Palace.
Though not worth going out of your way for, it makes for a mildly interesting visit if you’re already hitting nearby Wat Na Phra Men.
Probably established before the founding of Ayutthaya, the temple has had a bewildering number of names. It didn’t become Wat Choeng Tha until King Rama IV decided in the mid 19th century that the previous name, Wat Thin Tha (Water Grass Temple), was beneath a site with such a long history. At the front of the grounds, an info board provides details about the temple’s many other names and associated legends.
The centrepiece is a medium-size Khmer-style prang built in the early Ayutthaya period and adorned with damaged white-stucco standing Buddha images in the Halting of Evil posture, which were left behind when looters raided the crypt. West of the prang, you’ll find minor chedis along with an ancient ordination hall guarded by lion images; you’ll have to ask a monk nicely to have a look inside.
Set in the active part of the temple closer to the canal, a wihaan features Rattanakosin-era murals depicting some of the Jataka stories along with teakwood touches and Chinese decor resembling some of the artwork found in Wat Phanan Choeng’s Chinese-influenced wihaan. There’s also a dusty museum displaying old ceramics and other items.
How to get there
Wat Choeng Tha is located a few hundred metres west of Wat Na Phra Men, across the Mueang Canal from the north side of the island.
By David Luekens.
Last updated on 28th February, 2016.
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.