Wat Chakrawat: Bangkok’s Crocodile Temple
Wat Chakrawat offers a peaceful oasis in the heart of bustling Bangkok. The temple’s unique blend of history, spirituality, and the intriguing presence of crocodiles makes it a compelling destination for both pilgrims and visitors interested in experiencing the deep-rooted traditions of Thai Buddhism.
Name (Eng): Wat Chakrawatrachawat Woramahawihan
Name (Thai): วัดจักรวรรดิราชวาสวรมหาวิหาร อ่านต่อได้ที่
Address: 225 ถนน จักรวรรดิ Chakkrawat, Samphanthawong
Opening Hours: 8.00 to 17.00 daily
Entrance Fee: Free
Quick Note: During our visit, the temple was under some reconstruction
Length of Trip: ~45 minutes
Trip Type: Cultural / historical
Age Restrictions: None
Dress Code: Modest and conservative
The legend of Ai-bod tells the captivating story of a massive, one-eyed crocodile that inhabited the Wat Chakrawat’s surroundings. Ai-bod was considered a guardian spirit and protector of the temple. Legend has it that during times of threat or adversity, Ai-bod would emerge from the nearby Chao Phraya River to defend the temple and ward off malevolent forces. His presence was seen as a divine safeguard, believed to bring blessings and ensure the temple’s sanctity.
This legend has become an integral part of the temple’s cultural and spiritual identity, and visitors can still witness real crocodiles in the temple’s ponds today, carrying on the tradition of Ai-bod as guardians of this sacred place.
Wat Chakrawatrachawat Woramahawihan, also known as Wat Chakrawat, is a historic Buddhist temple located in Bangkok, Thailand, with a rich and storied history dating back several centuries. Its origins are closely associated with the Ayutthaya Kingdom, as it was established during the reign of King Borommatrailokanat in the 15th century. Originally constructed on the Chao Phraya River’s western bank, the temple was initially named Wat Bang Yi Ruea. It underwent multiple relocations and renovations over the years.
Throughout its long history, Wat Chakrawat has undergone numerous transformations and expansions, reflecting the changing eras of Thai history. The temple complex features impressive traditional Thai architectural elements, including a beautifully adorned ordination hall with intricate designs and vibrant murals.
Wat Chakrawatrachawat Woramahawihan is conveniently located in Bangkok’s Chinatown district, making it accessible by various means of transportation:
MRT (Mass Rapid Transit): Take the subway to the Wat Mangkon Station on the blue line. From there, it’s a ~12 minute walk or a ~4 minute tuk-tuk ride to the temple.
Public Bus: Bangkok has an extensive public bus system, and there are several bus routes that pass through Chinatown. Look for bus numbers: 4, 5, 7, 8, 21, 53, 73, 85, and 529.
Taxi: You can easily take a metered taxi to the temple. Just inform the driver of the temple’s name and address, and they should be able to take you directly to the entrance.
Walking: If you’re staying in or near the Chinatown area, consider walking to the temple.
Visiting Sampeng Market after Wat Chakrawat is a smart choice due to their close proximity in Chinatown. After exploring the spiritual and historical richness of the temple, you can seamlessly transition to the lively market atmosphere just a short walk away. Here, you’ll find a bustling array of stalls offering an eclectic mix of products, street food, and a glimpse into local life.
The convenience of this proximity allows you to make the most of your time, experiencing both the serenity of the temple and the vibrancy of the market, all within a single visit, creating a well-rounded experience in one of Bangkok’s most captivating neighborhoods.
Crocodiles are considered sacred creatures that embody several qualities highly regarded in Buddhism. They symbolize protection, strength, and resilience. In Thai folklore, it is believed that crocodiles possess the power to ward off evil spirits and bring blessings. Therefore, by keeping real crocodiles at a temple, it is seen as a way to protect the sacred grounds from malevolent forces.
When visiting Wat Chakrawat or any other Buddhist temple in Thailand, it’s important to dress respectfully and modestly out of respect for the religious and cultural norms. The general dress code for Wat Chakrawat typically includes the following guidelines:
Clothing: Wear clothing that covers your shoulders, arms, and knees. Avoid sleeveless tops, short skirts, and shorts.
Footwear: Remove your shoes before entering the temple buildings or designated sacred areas. It’s a common practice to leave your footwear outside the temple premises.
Hats & Sunglasses: Remove your hat, cap, or sunglasses before entering temple buildings as a sign of respect.
Tattoos: If you have tattoos, especially ones with religious or provocative imagery, it’s advisable to cover them as a sign of respect.
By adhering to these dress code guidelines, you’ll not only show respect for the temple and its traditions but also ensure a culturally sensitive and meaningful visit to Wat Chakrawat.
The best time to visit Wat Chakrawat is during the cool and serene hours just after sunrise. Arriving early in the morning offers several advantages:
Cooler Weather: The temperatures in Bangkok can be quite hot and humid during the day, especially in the afternoon. By visiting early in the morning, you can enjoy more pleasant and cooler weather, making your exploration of the temple more comfortable.
Peaceful Atmosphere: Early morning is a tranquil time at Wat Chakrawat. It’s often less crowded, providing a serene and contemplative ambiance that allows you to fully appreciate the temple’s spiritual and historical significance.
Monk Activities: Early mornings are when you’re more likely to witness monks engaged in their daily rituals, such as meditation and morning prayers. Observing these activities can provide valuable insights into Thai Buddhist culture and practice.
Avoiding Crowds: By arriving early, you can explore the temple grounds and its unique features without the hustle and bustle that often occurs later in the day.
Entrance to Wat Chakrawat is free of charge, extending a warm welcome to both worshipers and tourists to explore its temple grounds, halls, and shrines without any admission fees. It’s important to mention that there are donation boxes conveniently placed around the temple for those who wish to make voluntary contributions.
These donations, while not mandatory, are greatly appreciated and play a vital role in sustaining the temple’s maintenance and preservation, ensuring its cultural and religious significance endures for generations to come.
Absolutely, Wat Chakrawat is worth visiting for anyone interested in experiencing the rich blend of Thai culture, history, and spirituality. The temple’s unique feature of real crocodiles, considered sacred protectors, adds an intriguing dimension to the visit.
Beyond its symbolic significance, Wat Chakrawat offers a peaceful escape in the heart of bustling Bangkok, with beautiful architecture, serene surroundings, and the opportunity to witness daily Buddhist rituals. It’s a place where visitors can immerse themselves in the religious traditions of Thailand, making it a culturally enriching and memorable destination.