Getaway to the temple on the ocean
Near Bangkok, in Samut Prakan province, an amazing temple has the unique characteristic to be slowly swallowed by the ocean.
Not easy to find, my intention here will be to guide you to access this temple by yourself, while describing the main characteristic of this journey on south of Bangkok.
On the Ocean, in Samut Prakan Province
Wat Khun Samut Chin (วัดขุนสมุทรจีน) is literally located on the ocean, in the relatively unknown western part of Samut Prakan province.
To access it, you’ll have no other choice but to take a boat trip, but not just from anywhere, and certainly not from Bangkok.
The exact location is at the GPS coordinates below, a tiny pier named Tha Rua Pali (ท่าเรือป้าลี่), or simply Pali pier.
GPS coordinates of Tha Rua Pali pier: N 13°33’1 E100°31’51
This location, relatively isolated, is easily accessible from downtown Bangkok by Taxi. Another solution is to go first at Phra Samut Chedi (พระสมุทรเจดีย์), at the GPS point written below, then take a blue colored van or taxi to reach Tha Rua Pali pier.
GPS Coordinates of Phra Samut Chedi: N 13°35’54 E100°35’6
A long journey by Bus
If your budget is tight, you can reach Phra Samut Chedi by bus. Two itineraries are possible.
From the bus stop in front of MBK commercial center, you can climb into bus number 141. Directly after crossing the Chao Phraya River, you have to stop at the bus stop named Suksawat Km.9 (สุขสวัสดิ์ กม.9(ลงทางด่วน)). From this point, you can take the bus number 20.
What seems to be the simplest solution is to take the Bus number 20 from its starting point, located on Din Daeng road (ถนนดินแดง), just next to the pier on the Chao Phraya river sharing the same name: Tha Din Daeng (ท่าดินแดง).
This bus stop is located approximately at this GPS point: N 13°44’9 E100°30’13
When you’re finally inside the Bus number 20, you simply need to get off at the terminus, which happen to be at Phra Samut Chedi. From there, for the last few kilometers to Tha Rua Pali pier, you’ll need to take a blue colored van, a taxi or a local community truck.
For the van or taxi driver, do not forget to indicate them at first where you want to get off: Tha Rua Pali pier (ท่าเรือป้าลี่).
If you wish to start this journey from Sukhumvit Road, another solution is to reach Phra Samut Chedi by BTS, then by taxi and boat.
From Sukhumvit, your first goal is to go to the Pak Nam Market Ferry Pier, located in the city center of Pak Nam, directly in the main market. To get there, you can use the BTS Sukhumvit Line until the terminus station in 2018: BTS Samrong
In 2019, thanks to the BTS extension, you’ll easily be able to go even closer from this pier by public transportation.
The Pak Nam Market Ferry Pier is located at this GPS point: N 13°35’42 E100°35’46
From Samrong BTS station, you can go to the pier by a short taxi ride, costing less than 100 bahts.
For your information and satisfy your curiosity, while you’re near the pier, you can visit three interesting and historic temples in the area: Wat Pichai Songkhram (วัดพิชัยสงคราม), Wat Klang Worawiharn (วัดกลางวรวิหาร), and the City Pillar Shrine.
Directly on the Chao Phraya River, the Pak Nam Market Ferry Pier is a popular way of transportation to cross the river, boats passing by approximately every five minutes all day long. The cost is less than 10 bahts.
When you have finally crossed the Chao Phraya river, you arrive directly to Phra Samut Chedi. From there, same as explicated earlier, you can take a taxi for a few kilometers or a blue colored van to reach Tha Rua Pali Pier (ท่าเรือป้าลี่).
Whatever the way you choose to go to this remote temple, I suggest you take this article and show the different names in thai language to local people in case you’re lost. They will gladly help you if you are friendly and polite.
The journey on the canal
From Tha Rua Pali pier, the cost to reach by boat the temple depends on the frequentation that particular day, the number of people that you are travelling with and your thai language skills.
For information, I haven’t paid the same price to go and to come back. However, at the maximum, a single trip should not go beyond 120 to 150 bahts per person, and the same on your way back.
The boat trip along the narrow canal is quick, around five minutes at maximum speed. You’ll pass between a lot of paddy fields and houses on sticks.
The journey ends when you reach another pier, located in the middle of nowhere. It’s important to remember that place because you’ll need to get back from here.
If you come during week-end, which is what I advise you, a tuk-tuk can take you the temple. If there is none, you can wait for it or decide to walk by following the only path, the monastery being located at the end of it.
Wat Khun Samut Chin, the temple on the Ocean
The monastery is similar to the majority in the kingdom, with its religious buildings, its monks praying and teaching, and local residents taking care of the monastic community.
The only difference, that you cannot miss when you approach it, is that this temple is located directly on top of the ocean, on a huge slab on sticks, protected by embankments and rocks curbing waves during high tides.
If nowadays the ocean surrounds the temple, it hasn’t always been like that. In the past, an informative panel suggest than the ocean did not even approach from the temple, demonstrating the inexorable rise of the ocean in the last thirty years.
The ordination hall, or Ubosot (อุโบสถ), exemplifies this constant threat of water rising. During storms, waves were so high that the building was almost swept away. Nowadays, the base of the ordination sits constantly in mud.
Thus, the only way to access this Ubosot is by a board placed halfway up the door. The floor has also been raised.
Fighting against the Ocean
The monastery is trying to fight back against the ocean. In the last few years, embankments have been reinforced and the temple has spread its surface on the water. Facing the horizon, a brand new chinese-style Viharn is dedicated to the Bodhisattva Guanyin.
A ten meters-tall standing Buddha image is also facing the ocean. Positioned as if it wanted to challenge the inevitable, this Buddha image is doing the Abhaya-mudra with two hands, a hand gesture also called the position to calm the ocean…
If new embankments and raised slabs have extended the temple’s life, no one can assure that it will resist in the upcoming years or even months. In other words, do not wait too long if you wish to visit this incredible temple, its own existence as a Buddhist monastery being precarious to say the least.
Small pleasures before going back
Before going back, I can advise you to taste oysters from the small restaurant at the temple’s entrance, at least if it still exists, my last visit dating from 2017.
Freshly taken out of the water, they will be served without the shell. 150 baht for a dozen oysters!
Near the monastery, around two hundred meters in the northern direction, you can also visit the hamlet named Khun Chin. Life there quietly follows its course.
To go back to Bangkok, you just need to take the same way back, wait for a boat, then a blue colored-van, or directly a taxi if you are lucky to find one. Bon voyage!