I’ve visited some unusual temples in my time in Thailand but I don’t think I’ve seen any that rivals the uniqueness of Wat Samphran Dragon Temple. The Dragon Temple, as it’s more commmonly called derives its name for very obvious reasons – the huge dragon that is wrapped around the 17-story building.
My First Encounter With A Dragon
I first saw a photograph of Wat Samphran Dragon Temple about six months previous to writing this post and instantly wanted to see it for myself. The temple sits roughly 40 kilometers west of Bangkok in Nakhon Pathom, far away enough to feel like you’re getting out of the city but not too far that it feels you’ve spent half your life travelling there.
I was in danger of taking a dip into self-pity due to my ongoing problems with my Amazon FBA account. Therefore I was in need of a road trip and some fresh suroundings. While I don’t generally do the whole wallowing thing I do occassionally like a short sharp shock of it, if only for the fact that it works as a mental slap in the face. The most frustrating aspect of this whole saga is my reaction to it. I should have sorted this all sooner and not been so lazy (seriously, I have been way too lazy) while I was last in the UK. But, what is in the past will always stay there so what can you do other than move forward?
Now let’s see some dragons!
The Drive To Wat Samphran Dragon Temple
I’m not a ‘car person’ but being driven in Thailand is, for me, an incredibly enjoyable experience. The cars and motorbikes weave in and out of each other, all looking for that extra inch of space like a horde of ants on a tree. A country in which the traffic lights are more of a suggestion to stop than an order.
We drove along Sathorn Road before crossing the snaking Chao Phraya River via the Taksin Bridge, a huge six lane bridge that also has space for the BTS Skytrain. The tall, shiny sykcrapers of Bangkok soon gave way to the low-roofed houses of its suburbs, each one zipping by in a flash as the car careered this way and that.
As we drove further away from Bangkok the roadside began to fill with small restaurants and motorbike showrooms. The main feature of the roadside though were billboards advertising newly built condo’s. If the strength of an economy can be shown through the amount of new houses then Thailand is possitively booming.
The First Sighting Of Dragon Tower
After a drive that seemed to consist of one straight road for fifty minutes we turned left and we could see the dragons head peering over the tall pink building that it had wrapped itself around. I was ready to be blown away by it’s oddness but seeing it, high above the trees stunned me into my jaw dropping like a sack of potatoes that has drunk too much.
Such a unique building needs to be known around the world and yet there was hardly a soul here. The lack of other people and the almost silent surroundings made it feel all the more magical so I won’t complain too long about having the place largely to ourselves.
The History of Wat Samphran Dragon Temple
I don’t want you to think I haven’t tried to find out some of this bizarre places history, because I have. I really have. For some reason though little bits of information such as when it was built are not to be seen, Well, not in English anyway. I made the effort though – I went to page 4 on Google!! Looking at it with my untrained eye it was hard to say if it was a hundred years old or 20 but I did find out that it was ‘officially registered’ in 1985. I’m not sure what ‘officially registered’ means but maybe that’s a fancy way of saying ‘completed’.
The design has an almost psychedelic feel to it and as you make your way closer to it the enormity of the project hits you like a billiard ball in a sock.
Enter The Dragon
Finally, I could wait no more and made my way into the temple to begin the 300 meter ascent. The inside of the temple was sadly in a state of mild disrepair with a thick dust covering many of the surfaces. It semed so neglected that I almost began to wonder if this is how the monks here want it. It is such a stark contrasct to many other temples I’ve been to while in Thailand – then again I’ve never been in a temple that has a dragon wrapped around it!
The inside of the dragon looks like something from an underground lair in a James Bond movie and what little air there was was thick and humid.
The tunnel spiralled around and with each foot step more sweat began to form on my forehead. The walk strangely began to feel like it was never going to stop with the lights on the ceiling giving the impression that day light was just around the corner. But the sweat and burning thigh muscles were all worth it…
We were standing on top of the highest building for miles.
Once we had tied a ribbon to the dragons beard for good luck and the breeze had cooled us down it was time to begin the walk back down the dragon.
If you wish to see more must see temples follow the link for my top 5 Bangkok temples https://pauldancewriter.com/2019/06/28/the-top-5-must-see-temples-in-bangkok/
If you’re in Bangkok and fancy a visit yourself follow the link for an explanation from a website way better at explaining such things! http://thebangkokfaq.com/index.php/2017/07/19/go-wat-sampran-dragon-temple/
The Wat Samphran Dragon Temple is a wonderful experience despite the fact it seems to be falling into disrepair. It offers a unique experience and a chance to spend time in a Thai temple that is rarely found in a guide book.