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The name of the province comes from Pali-Sanskrit name Nagara Sri Dhammaraja that translates as the City of the sacred King of Dharma in English. This name was transformed in Thai into Nakhon Si Thammarat. Thai people often call their province Nakon.
The main treasure of the province is the Temple of Phra Mahathat.
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat Temple is one of the most important and oldest temples in Thailand, as well as one of the 6 first class Royal temples. Chedi or stupa that takes the central place of the temple is 78 m high, surrounded by 173 small stupas. The main stupa is believed to contain a tooth relic of Buddha.
The base of the stupa is surrounded by a gallery with many Buddha statues. You can get to the main stupa through the building of Viharn Phra Nang Ma. The image of the stupa is a symbol of the Nakhon Si Thammarat province and is depicted on the 25 satang coin.
The sign at the entrance says this is a place for meditation. Founded in 1975 by a monk Chamnian Silsetso, known for his knowledge in teachings of Vipassana in 1975 (Note: Vipassana — means to see things as they really are. www.dhamma.org). It is believed that in one of the caves used to live a leopard (not a tiger as the name suggests).
This is a large complex. At the entrance, you will find a small shop. It is better to buy food on the way out otherwise furry tailed inhabitants won’t leave you alone.
The entrance to the Tiger cave is immediate to the left along the cliff. There is a structure built in front of the rock for meditation and meetings with the monks. To enter the cave you need to walk through this structure. Inside you will find a footprint of the Buddha, where you can leave a coin and make a wish.
Going further along the road deep into the complex, on the left side, you will see two paths to the mountains. The first leads to the top of the mountain (1237 steps), the second to the "old" forest.
There are 1237 steps leading to the top of this 600 feet high mountain. It's not an easy walk. The steps are narrow and steep. In some places stair risers are up to 40 cm high, you have to use your hands to help yourself. To keep you occupied this 25-30 min, this is how long it takes to get to the summit, columns are installed along the staircase at the edge that show you how many steps you have ascended. Once you get to the top you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the surrounding area. Also, cold drinking water is available there.
One day on the way up I passed an old Thai man. He got to the top only 10 minutes behind me. He was 72 years old! This is for those of you who after reading this decided not to climb to the top.
Old forest: once you get over a small hill you get to the forest, it is truly a forest, not a jungle. The walk is easy here, there are many different paths. If you take the far left footpath it will lead you back in a circle to the starting point. On the way, there are a few caves with rock paintings. People come here to enjoy the silence. The trees are tropical with large and wide buttress roots. The largest tree I found was about 9 meters wide at its foundation! Standing next to that tree it was hard to believe that it was a living thing. It felt like I was leaning against a rock. The temperature in the forest is cool so that 20-minute walk around the circle is not tiring.
In the middle of the complex, before the staircase to the summit or in front of the Tiger cave, you will find monks and nuns. If you approach with a smile and ask they will tie a braided bracelet to your wrist, blessed for good luck. Make a wish or they themselves often wish for foreigners a lot of money, do not say “No”.
! Directions: from Krabi head East on highway 4, before you reach Big C supermarket turn left onto highway 6017, follow the road for 2 km.
The path to the temple and the statue of reclining Buddha is “guarded” by dozens of monkeys. But you can bribe them with bananas. These furry creatures are not shy and will steal your food given a chance. Keep a firm grip on your belongings. Once you pass the first domed section of the cave you end up in the second part where there are many beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. You can climb to the top of the cave, but be careful – the path is slippery.
In the middle of the first section sometimes you can find a monk who if asked will tie a string around your wrist that will serve you as a protective amulet.
! Directions: from Phuket head towards Phang Nga on highway 402, then turn onto highway 4 before you reach Phang Nga.
09:00 — 18:00
It is said that the Temple or Wat in Thai was established during the reign of King Rama II (1809-1842). Now it is one of the most revered temples. There have been some major historical events connected with the Temple. One of such events was a rebellion of Chinese coolies in 1876. Local Thai people were inspired by the Abbot of Wat Chalong to fight the rebels and the rebellion was put down. In addition to his wisdom, the Abbot Luang Pho Chaem (1827-1908) was believed to heal people with the help of his walking stick.
If you want to see how Thai people perform their religious rituals make sure you visit all of the buildings. You can even join them but please be very polite. According to a legend Chedi, the tallest building at the complex holds Buddha’ relics.
Directions: from Central Festival Shopping mall head toward Chalong, The temple is located on highway 4021 East. From the road, you will be able to see a white archway to the temple complex.
! Please, note that women should have their knees and shoulders covered while visiting temples in Thailand, men should wear a t-shirt or a shirt and pants or shorts that are not very short. Also, women should not touch monks.
09:00 — 18:00
This place is two attractions in one. It is a viewpoint and also a grand temple complex.
Construction has been ongoing for more than 10 years and is funded by donations. It all started with the ambitious idea of a few friends who once found this place in the mountains. From the observation deck you can see the two coasts of Phuket. Chalong is to the East and Kata, Karon is to the West.
There is a small temple at the base of the statue where you can get blessed by a Buddhist monk.
And if you come across people rubbing the Gong with their hands - get in line. It is believed that if it “sings” it means you have a pure soul.
The passage to the observation deck is to the left immediately after you climb to the statue.
Directions: from Phuket Town head toward Chalong on highway 4021 West, once you pass Wat Chalong and a Ptt gas station you will see the sign “Big Buddha”.
!Please, note that women should have their knees and shoulders covered while visiting temples in Thailand, men should wear a t-shirt or a shirt and pants or shorts that are not very short. Also, women should not touch monks.