Wat pha sorn kaew is a stunning but little known temple in Khao Kho, Phetchabun. We visited here during a few days in Khao Kho, and whilst I’m sure everyone thinks their temple is special, this one really is. The architecture of this temple makes it stand out, and I mean literally! You can see the gold topped chedis and huge Buddha from miles away. This is thanks to their huge size as well as location, because this temple is perched on a hilltop at the top of the massive Khao Kho mountain valley.
Wat pha sorn kaew means ‘temple on a high hill’, which is due to its stunning location. It’s fairly new, having only just been upgraded from a holy site in 2010. There is a cave at the summit of the mountain which is revered by locals, many of whom are said to have seen a crystal marble floating on the horizon before descending into it. They believe this crystal stone to be a sacred relic of Buddha so they built a shrine at the cave to worship at. It’s since developed a fair bit, with the temple, chedis, gardens, residences and a preaching hall.
The lane leading here is just a small soi. So small in fact that we missed it first time around. We parked up and walked around an ornamental pond towards the temple. Thai people don’t generally like being outside as it’s hot, so when they simultaneously discovered the staircase as well as a car park at the top, their choice was made! I went on foot alone. An elephant statue with four sets of tusks guards the stairway. It’s not too tough a climb (but if you, like me, happen to visit at midday in the summer when it’s 43C it is HOT)! The stairs are covered in brightly coloured tiles and it’s worth walking up for this as well as to explore the gardens which extend off to each side.
This pretty temple sparkles with a thousand colours, thanks to nearly every surface being covered in mosaic. Glass, ceramic, beads and even whole pots have been applied to create a dazzling sight. The roofs of the chedis are a distinctive shape, and shown off by being covered in gold so they dazzle in the sunlight. The surrounding mountains are massive. A lesser temple might not have managed what this one does -it sits regally amongst the massive green giants. As with many other sacred locations you feel peaceful and calm, many say that shrines are located in a certain spot because they draw people in, this is one of those places!
Needless to say the views in every direction are simply stunning. I climbed each level thinking it couldn’t get any better, only for the next view to be more beautiful than the last. From the top of the main temple you are afforded a clear view of the 5 Buddha statues who look out on the valley below. This part of the temple is pure white, with a big open courtyard in front. The building the Buddhas are sat on is not yet complete so I couldn’t walk around it. I did, however, peek over the mosaic wall to see ponds filled with gold and black and white stripy fish.
They have a website here, however it’s all in Thai! The main things you need to know is it’s off road 12 and there’s a signpost (in Thai)! There is a small car park at the bottom, just over the narrow bridge. You can drive to the top car park if you don’t want to walk up, to do this don’t take the bridge and drive straight on. As with all temples, dress modestly and give a little donation to show your appreciation (click here for a guide to temple etiquette).
This temple is not yet very well known, and only had a handful of visitors when we were there, most by minibus. This valley faces east, as do most temples, so I imagine sunrise is pretty spectacular. If you are in the area, this picturesque temple is well worth visiting.Show on map