Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan , Wat Sothon temple is one of the biggest temples in Thailand, if not the biggest of them all. It is also one of the most sacred sanctuaries for the Thai people. Built of Italian white-grey marble, the temple towers to 84 meters high, and required 77 tons of gold to decorate. It is built on the riverbank, and located in Chachoengsao district, about an hour drive away from Bangkok.
Wat Sothon contains and displays one of the most sacred figures for the Thai people – Luang Pho Buddha Sothon, who is held to inspire a successful harvest and possess unique healing qualities.
Crowds of Thai people arrive at the Temple on all weekdays, and visiting the place is an amazing, exciting experience. In the temple entrance, there is a hall where a big group of Thai dancers perform traditional dances as part of the many ceremonies held on site. Thai people enter the place with a genuine awe; they bring many gifts on their visits and hold their rituals with much respect and devotion.
There is a huge difference between visiting a temple packed with tourists, or watching rituals as part of some big tourist display, and actually visiting an authentic temple, where traditional dances and ceremonies play an integral part in the local culture and everyday life. In the attached clip, you will see a “stick ritual” which I will explain in detail in another article.
Personally, I’ve visited Wat Sothon temple several times by now, and it has always been an exciting experience. One of my visits was held as part of a tour, which was administered by the institute in which I teach. It was a remarkable experience to see my students outside the formal, educational framework, excited and eager to partake in the ceremonies.
I highly recommend visiting Wat Sothon, if you wish to soak in even a little of the Thai existence and local culture; the exciting experience will remain in your mind for a very long time.
Throughout the year, several festivals are held in the temple – on the 5th and 12th months (according to the moon year, which usually means April and November).
The temple area is also lovely – it is located on the riverbank, surrounded by gardens and parks, very close to a Chinese temple, which is spectacular by its own merits, as you can see in the attached clip.
Opening hours: the temple is open every day from 7 AM to 4 PM (during the weekends until 5 PM).
Directions: you can easily reach the place by train, by bus (Mo Chit), or use the easiest way and take a van from the Central Van Station at Victory Monument (right under the Skytrain).
In order to at least give you a hint of the unique beauty and atmosphere in the temple, I’ve taken and edited a clip of the place and its ceremonies. The clip was taken over the weekend, yet not during a holiday, a festivity or any other special occasion.
I intentionally refrained from adding music this time, in order to keep the authentic voices as heard on site during the visit.
I hope you enjoy the clip…