‘Wat’ is the Thai name for temple and we are very lucky on Koh Phangan to have such a great number for this relatively small island. Temples are a great place to visit, they are tranquil and also showcase traditional Thai temple art for you to admire.
A Thai temple is not just one but a collection of buildings, shrines and monuments, there are around 30,000 in Thailand.
At a temple it is likely you will see lots of Buddha images and mythological creatures. Many temples have lots of different styles, some more ornate than others.
There has been a long development of temple art which is influenced by Hinduism as well as Buddhism, you can see hindu gods at Thai temples such as the eight armed shiva and elephant ganesh.
Roof tiers are an important element of Thai temples and a color scheme which is typical such as orange, ochre, green, red and white plus Gold also plays an important role which you will no doubt see.
The serpent statues that adorn some temples represent the ‘Naga’, a snake-like god from Indian mythology in Thailand is believed to protect the temple’s treasures. They may also have what look like big demon figures known as ‘Yaksha’s’ which are nature spirits. They stand at the entrance of temples and stop demons from entering these holy places.
One of our favourite temples on the island to see the artwork would be the Chinese temple on the way to Chaloklum. This is still a Buddhist temple just done in a more Chinese style, with red, green and gold decor and elaborate Naga dragons, apparently on some days you can see Koh Tao from the top!
Another would be Wat Samai Kongka just past Sri Thanu, a peaceful temple with a strange addition. Here you will find an exhibition which is not what you would expect to find at a temple, the statues depict purgatory, what will happen to you if you do bad and it is not a pretty sight yet very,very interesting to go see. Samai Kongka is a beautiful temple and grounds to wander around also.
Enjoy Koh Phangan’s Temple Art.