In recent years, Pattaya, Thailand has been developing as a booming tourist attraction for international visitors. New parks, resorts, and hotels are constantly being erected to keep up with the demand for tourism in the area. However, for those who are more interested in learning about Thailand’s religious and cultural traditions, there are also a handful of sacred places to visit and to experience a different side of the city. Leave the beaches, bars, and nightclubs behind and instead take in a truer vision of Pattaya.
One of the attractions to visit if this is your first time in Pattaya is going to Wat Phra Yai or locally known as Big Buddha Hill. Visitors can climb to one of the highest points in the city and take in a sweeping panoramic view, and lay eyes on the biggest Buddha statue in Pattaya. The Buddha statue stands approximately at eighteen meters tall and provides a peaceful, humbling atmosphere when observed up close. On the walk up to the Buddha statue, there is a pair of golden snake sculptures flanking the staircase on either side. Reaching the top, there are smaller Buddha statues surrounding the main one. Each statue comes all in different shapes, sizes, and positions.
Within the vicinity, there are two other temples: A Taoist temple and a Chinese shrine, honoring Confucius. While strolling through Wat Phra Yai, visitors can enter the temple and be blessed by a monk. If you would like to maximize your good luck and fortune, there are lines of bells lined along the temple. The belief is that if you ring all the bells, you will be blessed with good luck and fortune. Of course, this is up to personal belief but if you want to do something different at the temple, this is your chance to do so.
Wat Phra Yai remains a popular attraction with tourists as well as locals. On important Buddhist holidays, both pilgrims and visitors will come to the mountain lay down offerings such as colorful garlands, food, burn incense and release animals as a means to earn merit.
A little bit outside of the city center, Wat Yanasangwaram Woramahawihan honors Thai and other countries’ traditions. Built in the late seventies for the Supreme Patriarch at the time, a temple is a particular place. There is an international pavilion around a pond that displays architectural designs from countries all over the world. The main reason visitors head to this spot, though, is to gaze around the Mondop pavilion which houses a replica of the Buddha’s footprint, a large stupa which contains relics of Buddha and his followers, and Wihan Phra Yanaret. Escaping to this Wat, in the middle of over one hundred acres of green, is a great place to seek refuge from the city.
Located in North Pattaya, the Sanctuary of Truth provides a place for visitors to contemplate life. It has been under construction since 1981 and will most likely not be completed until 2050, but it’s rising, pointed architecture is not to be missed. Four gopuras, or monumental towers, contain art and decorations with influences from Buddhist and Hindu religions, as well as Cambodian, Chinese, Indian, and Thai mythological traditions. All around the wooden sanctuaries are carvings and sculptures that prompt visitors to come to an understanding of Eastern philosophies such as human responsibility, the cycle of living, and life’s relationship with the universe. Adding to its beauty is the stunning, natural seaside of the Laem Ratchawet which surrounds it. Though it is not yet completed, it is open daily for those who seek to feel the connection to a larger existence.
Whether embarking on a spiritual journey, wishing to learn more about Thai cultural traditions or only looking for places of peace and beauty, visitors can find it all in these sacred sites of Pattaya.