The three-headed elephant temple (Chang Sam Sean) is a unique, spectacular attraction located in Bangkok (Samut Prakan) – a giant structure which is shaped as a three headed elephant, and contains a small museum as well as a temple. The structure is
The huge elephant structure is made of 250 tons of pure bronze; it is 29 meters high and 39 meters wide. The structure represents the mythical Hindu figure Airavata (also known as Erawan). The idea for this unforgettable site was formulated by Lek Viriyapant, an eccentric Thai tycoon.
The elephant structure has three storeys. The first floor represents the cosmological ‘underworld’ and contains a small museum which displays valuable antiquities that were collected over the years. The second floor represents the center of the world according to the Buddhist perception – a spectacular hall with four bronze pillars representing the four main religions through various religious symbols. The hall ceiling is a fine work of art made of glass, which represents the top of the world, the stars and zodiac signs. The third and final floor, which is situated at the elephant’s stomach, represents the Buddhist ‘heaven’ – Tavatimsa Heaven – through a hall which functions as a temple. This unique hall is beautifully decorated in colors of royal gold and pale blue, and the solar system is painted on its curved ceiling. The temple’s calm and serenity and the somewhat surreal Dali-like art create an amazing combination.
The elephant structure contains an elevator so that no physical effort is required in order to get to the final floor. Moreover, the place is air-conditioned and very pleasant.
One of the local customs in the temple is to float a lotus flower in the water flow of an on-site pool while expressing a wish. The place also has a coffee-shop, a restaurant and a souvenir shop. In case it rains, you’ll even be provided with umbrellas.
Opening Hours: 8 AM – 5 PM, every day.
Admission Fee: 300 baht for adults, and 150 baht for children (6-15 years old).
Directions: Erawan temple is on Sukhumvit street, in Samut Prakan district. You can get there by taxi from anywhere in Bangkok (a 30 minutes’ ride from the city center). You can also take the Skytrain – use the Sukhumvit line and get off at the last stop (Bearing station), which borders with Samut Prakan, and from then on, take a short taxi drive.
I would also suggest a more interesting way of getting to the temple (either by car or taxi) – From Sukhumvit/Asoke intersection, head south and then go up the spectacular Bhumibol bridge, which allows you to enjoy Bangkok’s lovely view. After crossing the bridge, it takes 10 more minutes to reach the temple.
Please show the taxi driver the following address: พิพิธภัณฑ์ช้างเอราวัณ
I should point out two things in that regard:
- Visiting the place takes some 45 minutes, and you can easily combine it with other nearby sites such as the ancient City (Mueang Boran), the Crocodile Farm and Zoo, Rabiang Tale restaurant and Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang – an authentic, intriguing temple, which features the largest reclining Buddha in Bangkok (54 meters).
- Unlike the standard, heavily crowded temples, where children (and quite a few adults) get easily bored, Erawan is a unique temple, which fascinates and intrigues children – so much so that I included it in the “Children attractions” category.
FWY: TipTop Private Family Adventure Tours includes the Three Headed Elephant Temple (Erawan Museum) in its Bangkok tour programs.
Enjoy your visit… And as I’ve promised, here is a presentation of the place!