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Visit Phra That Bo Ong Chedi (Kanchanaburi)

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Presentation Phra That Bo Ong Chedi

g_translate Thai name : เจดีย์พระธาตุโบอ่อง
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Hidden Temple Chedi Bo Ong Kanchanaburi
Hidden Chedi Bo Ong Kanchanaburi
Chedi Phra That Bo Ong

The Phra That Bo Ong Chedi, also known as Chedi Phra That Bo Ong, is a small pagoda situated in Pilok Subdistrict in Thong Pha Phum District in Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand. Nestled atop a petite limestone mountain surrounded by a charming water lily pond, this Mon-style religious structure rises majestically to an estimated height of 6 meters, with a base of approximately 3x3 meters. Wat Phra That Bo Ong Chedi is regarded as one of the oldest temples in the region and holds a central position in the lives of the Karen and Mon residents of Bo Ong village. Situated on the shores of the lake sealed by the Vajiralongkorn dam (or Khao Laem Dam), the village, and thus its temple, are accessible solely by boat.

Encircled by a vast pond speckled with lotuses and inhabited by various species of aquatic birds, including a colony of blue moorhens, Phra That Bo Ong Chedi provides a tranquil and captivating sanctuary. A bridge followed by a staircase leads to the chedi housing sacred relics. There is no definitive information on when the temple was constructed, which further adds to the legend of this site.

The history and beliefs surrounding this sacred place contribute to its mystical aura. Legend has it that in ancient times, Lord Buddha visited Phra That Bo Ong. A giant spotted him and desired to consume Buddha. Buddha said to the giant: ''If you wish to eat, first find a place to sit for the sermon''. The giant then fetched a large stone and placed it as a seat while Buddha preached. This turned the area around the relics into a swamp due to the giant's footprints. After hearing the sermon, the giant's fangs shattered, and he fled.

It is also recounted that one day, a woman crossing the bridge leading to the mountaintop caused the gradual drying up of the pond, prompting the villagers to prohibit women from traversing the bridge or entering the pond. When I inquired of one of the 7 monks of the temple why it was forbidden for women, he elucidated that if a woman stepped onto the bridge, lightning would immediately emanate from the sky and desiccate all the water.

It's a somewhat clandestine locale, very rarely visited by foreigners. And though women can only observe the rock and its chedi from the perimeters of the pond in the midst of which it resides, I believe that even for them, this little excursion is worthwhile (despite the frustration of not being able to venture onto the pond and onto the islet). In any case, you will scarcely encounter anything more off the beaten track in Kanchanaburi!

Practical information about Phra That Bo Ong Chedi

Free entry
The price for a round trip by boat depends on your departure point but count around 1,000 - 1,500 THB per boat.
Every year, during the full moon of the 4th lunar month, Buddhist devotees gather to worship Phra That Bo Ong Chedi, continuing a centuries-old tradition and strengthening the spiritual connection with this sacred place.

How to get to Phra That Bo Ong Chedi ?

To get to the Phra That Bo Ong Pagoda from Kanchanaburi town, there are several options which all start with a drive to a spot on the shore of Lake Vajilalonkorn (or Khao Laem Lake) from where you can take a boat to Bo Ong village only accessible by boat. When I went there, to have an optimized travel time (2 hours of driving and 1 hour baot trip) I chose to hire a longtail boat from a little lower than the Vajiralongkorn Dam via one of the raft houses installed there.

So to come and discover this somewhat secret chedi, you must be transported to go to the edge of the lake and have someone who speaks Thai to help you book the boat (and to pay for the 50% deposit via a banking application). I will not say much more about how to go to Phra That Bo Ong Chedi to preserve this unknown destination. But those who are really motivated have enough information to find a way to get there.

Note that there is a homestay in Bo Ong village but in my opinion it is nicer to sleep on one of the lake's raft houses (which are often fully booked on weekends but have almost no guests on the week days).

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Rules to respect when visiting a temple

Phra That Bo Ong Chedi is a temple and when you visit a temple in Thailand there are some rules to know and follow :

  • Dress properly (knees and shoulders should be covered)
  • Take off your shoes when entering the buildings
  • Be quiet
  • Don't hug or kiss
  • Don't point your feet to Buddha's image
  • Don't smoke

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