Photo: Wat Thai Wattanaram (Wat Thai Yai).

Wat Thai Wattanaram (Wat Thai Yai)

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Wat Thai Wattanaram is an unusual Mayahana Buddhist temple built in the 1850s by members of the Thai Yai ethnic group from Burma -- hence it’s alternate name. A bunch of quirky features join several stunning Buddha images to make this large Burmese-style temple worth the side trip.

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You’re first met by shiny lion guardian statues that appear to have been crafted from many pieces of brass, followed by a miniature (but still quite large) replica of Shwedagon Pagoda and a graceful Shan-style chedi. Also check out the red-eyed chicken riding another chicken in front of an eye-catching building enwrapped in golden vine designs.

A one of a kind temple. Photo taken in or around Wat Thai Wattanaram (Wat Thai Yai), Mae Sot, Thailand by David Luekens.

A one of a kind temple. Photo: David Luekens

Inside the building topped by the Shwedagon replica sits a large marble Buddha that resembles the revered Buddha image of Wat Don Kaeo up in Mae Ramat. A neighbouring wihaan houses an exquisite bronze replica of Mahamuni, an extremely sacred Buddha image housed in Mandalay that features an ornate crown and regalia.

It almost looks robotic. Photo taken in or around Wat Thai Wattanaram (Wat Thai Yai), Mae Sot, Thailand by David Luekens.

It almost looks robotic. Photo: David Luekens

Next-door sits an airy hall with high ceilings and multiple white Buddha images striking various postures, topped by smaller ancient Buddha images placed in the niches. Check out the psychedelic reflections of the Buddha’s faces in the swirling mirror-like decoration that covers the walls.

Stretched out almost as an afterthought in the far back corner of the complex is a roughly 60-metre-long Burmese-style reclining Buddha.

Part of a diverse collection of Buddha images. Photo taken in or around Wat Thai Wattanaram (Wat Thai Yai), Mae Sot, Thailand by David Luekens.

Part of a diverse collection of Buddha images. Photo: David Luekens

The highlight for us was another large room centred around a bizarre display of Buddha and friends whizzing towards a huge three-dimensional map of Southern Asia, complete with a Buddha and guardian circling the perimeter on a motorised track. The whole spectacle felt like a Buddhist version of the “It’s a Small World After All” ride at Disney World.

Buddhist temples are good places to reflect. Photo taken in or around Wat Thai Wattanaram (Wat Thai Yai), Mae Sot, Thailand by David Luekens.

Buddhist temples are good places to reflect. Photo: David Luekens

We arrived to find a saffron-robed monk trying to toss coins into a pair of spinning bowls, like a game out of a county fair. You’ll also find dozens of vivid Thai Yai-style murals adorning the ... Travelfish members only (Around 300 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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How to get there
Wat Thai Wattanaram is located just off the north side of Asia Highway, about two kilometres east of the border. Head north at a traffic light on Mit Maitree Rd and then take an immediate right through the temple gate and the entrance will be on the left. If this gate is locked, keep north on Mit Maitree and look for a second gate on the right, just beyond a small cluster of food vendors.

Wat Thai Wattanaram (Wat Thai Yai)
Between Mae Sot airport and the border.
Daily 08:00-17:00.

Location map for Wat Thai Wattanaram (Wat Thai Yai)

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