Wat Bang Phra or the Monastery of the Riverbank Buddha Image is an ancient temple situated about 50 km west of Bangkok in Nakorn Prathom. Although this temple is a bit away from Bangkok and isn’t as fancy as the Temple of Dawn – Wat Arun or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha – Wat Pho but we decided to tell you about it because this is the place where you can get a real authentic Thai Sak Yant tattoo.
The monastry was built shortly before the second fall of Ayutthaya in the late 18th century.
All that remains of the original monastery today is a small, beautiful chapel for ordination. Inside the chapel are two statues of the Buddha, Luang Pho Sit Chaiyamongkon and Luang Pho Kai Sitmongkhon. There is a belief that these statues sank while being transported down the river to rescue them from Burmese troops. The statues were later raised from the bottom of the river and have since been preserved in the monastery that has come to be known as Wat Bang Phra. In the ordination hall are frescoes from the reigns of Kings Rama III and Rama IV.
Wat Bang Phra temple is mostly known for the daily tattoos or sak yants that the monks residing there do.
Sak Yant is a magical tattoo. It is a complex drawing consisting of Indian yantras, including images of deities and animals, surrounded by geometric symbols, Pali phrases, and prayers. Sak Yant tattoos are believed to provide protection, strength, good luck and other benefits to the wearer.
Real Sak Yant tattoos are done only by hand with a long bamboo stick called a khem. Sak Yant can be done only by a monk or ajarn (a former monk). Finished Sak Yant is always blessed by the master who did it. The price of a Sak Yant tattoo depends on the size and complexity of the design.
It is believed that over time, the magical power of the tattoo weakens. To re-empower and re-bless a Sak Yant, you are welcomed to the famous Wai Khru festival (Wat Bang Phra tattoo festival) held in March every year at Wat Bang Phra temple.
The entrance is free. Tattoo price is 100 THB and up.
WAT BANG PHRA LOCATION
Address: หมู่ 3 นฐ.4014 Bang Phra, Nakhon Chai Si District, Nakhon Pathom 73120
OPENING HOURS: 6 am to 11 pm daily except Thursday
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Wat Bang Phra is a large complex with many buildings and statues. Outside there is a small amulet market, and inside the building is another where the abbot blesses the tattooist’s work when the tattoo is complete. You can come here with children because there are many statues of animals, and the river nearby is full of fish.
Since Wat Bang Phra temple has been known since the Ayutthaya era, we highly recommend that you visit Ayutthaya itself to immerse yourself in the world of ancient temples and mysterious rituals. Book Ayutthaya Day Tour from Bangkok with Bang Pa-In Summer Palace and Market Visit.