Photo: Monks walking by the canal, Amphawa.

Khai Bang Kung fort and banyan tree temple, Amphawa

Our rating:

Over the centuries, Wat Khai Bang Kung‘s Ayutthaya-era ordination hall along the Mae Khlong river just north of Amphawa has been encased by the roots and branches of banyan trees.

Travel better, travel smarter

Save money, receive our latest updates and get the most out of your travels.


The temple grounds later doubled as a naval fort, the site of a fierce 18th century battle between Siam and invaders from Burma. Today, Khai Bang Kung is at once a Buddhist temple and a memorial to warrior heroism.

Allowable on temple grounds?

Allowable on temple grounds?

The temple’s thick stone-walled ordination hall isn’t huge, but it appears larger than it actually is thanks to the banyans that have risen up around it. So thick are the roots and branches of the three different kinds of banyan that from 20 metres away it’s difficult to decipher any structure at all. Roots have snaked through open-air windows as green foliage soars high above the roof.

Seriously, there's a temple in there.

Seriously, there’s a temple in there.

One gets a sense that the trees and the temple structure are a single continuing entity, a mash-up of the natural and human-created. If interested in Buddhism, it’s an obvious place to reflect on Buddhist teachings that all phenomena are fluid and interconnected.

And it's a functioning temple too.

And it’s a functioning temple too.

If you could care less about Buddhism, don’t let that stop you from snapping cool photos of the temple’s seated Buddha covered in twinkling gold leaf.

If you can't tell, we had fun taking pictures here.

If you can’t tell, we had fun taking pictures here.

A mystical air surrounds Wat Khai Bang Kung, but its bloody past is more about hand-to-hand combat than meditation. Although the precise history is fuzzy, it’s clear the temple turned naval fort remained a stubborn Siamese stronghold after Ayutthaya was overrun by the Burmese in 1767.

Despite seafaring Burmese forces having blockaded the mouth of the Mae Khlong river some 20 kilometres south, the Siamese general (and later king) Taksin managed to gather hundreds if not thousands of warriors — many of them Chinese — at Khai Bang Kung. Burmese naval and land forces surrounded the fort and an extended battle ensued, but Taksin’s warriors held strong and Khai Bang Kung never fell. It was a victory that turned the tide of the war towards the Siamese side.

Chinese warriors standing their ground for the Siamese flag.

Chinese warriors standing their ground for the Siamese flag.

When the Burmese retreated for good in 1768, Khai Bang Kung was forgotten and the banyans re-claimed the land. As part of bicentennial celebrations in 1967, the Thai government initiated a restoration of the site and erected memorial statues to King Taksin and the Chinese soldiers who fought for him. A boy scout camp, a central wihan (vihara or Dhamma hall) and a horse stable that still houses a handful of ponies were also erected.

In line with the whole fighting theme, dozens of life-size concrete statues of kickboxers displaying Muay Thai moves were also added. We found these a bit tacky (er, scary) but we reckon you’ll appreciate them if Muay Thai is your thing.

What you'd expect to learn at a Buddhist temple: how to bash a guy with a metal pipe.

Didn’t I see that guy in an episode of the A Team?

Wat Khai Bang Kung is located on the road that hugs the western bank of the Mae Khlong river six kilometres north of Amphawa (see map). You could reach it by bicycle or hire a tuk tuk or motorboat in Amphawa to take you there and back, or you could make it part of a day trip that could also include Bang Noi and Tha Kha.


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.

Book a flight, train, bus, taxi or ferry in Thailand with 12Go Asia

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Amphawa.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Amphawa.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Amphawa.
 Read up on how to get to Amphawa, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Amphawa? Please read this.
 Buy a SIM card for Thailand—pick it up at the airport when you arrive.
 Browse the web securely while travelling with TunnelBear. Try with a 7–day free trial.

Experience the Andaman Sea
Experience the Andaman Sea
Ad Spend 3 days / 2 nights on The Junk
From US$400.

Read more

See below for more sights and activities in Amphawa that are listed on

Top of page

Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Amphawa? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Thailand.

Top of page