Wat Samphran: The pink dragon temple just outside of Bangkok

Find the ride you need in

Ready to discover a mysterious, unusual site that is well and truly off the tourist map? Just outside of Bangkok sits just that: Wat Samphran.

Wat Samphran, Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand is famous for its diverse range of Buddhist temples that scatter across the country. One way or another, holidaymakers can’t help but unintentionally stumble across a temple, whether that be the famous traditional Grand Palace complex in Bangkok or the modern White Temple in Chiang Mai, better known by locals as Wat Rong Khun.

With thousands of people visiting the stunning temples of Thailand from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on a daily basis, is there anywhere left that is relatively undiscovered?

If you’re looking to discover an architectural wonder with a mysterious back-story that is far from the tourist track, read on to find out all about a temple that has a beastly dragon scaling a pink-washed tower. 

The mystery of Wat Samphran

Wat Samphran, Thailand

What gives this temple an air of mystery is the little-known information about it. No one seems to know when the temple was built, whom it was built by and why it was built. Not even the locals know. The only information available is that the 17-story, whopping 80-meter-high building was officially registered in 1985.  

Climbing the dragon

Wat Samphran, Thailand

Once you reach the temple grounds, you may see a few locals pottering about their daily lives and a few monks going about their business. As custom in Thailand, before entering a temple you must take off your shoes. The bottom floor of the pink tower appears slightly abandoned, with dust scattering the floor and an ancient looking elevator that has out-of-order signs plastered over it. 

The only way to the top is to dive into the foot of the dragon and make the leg tugging incline to the top. Inside the dragon is a far-cry from the outside. Inside is a dome-shaped sweaty hot tunnel with cemented walls and floor. To protect your feet from the small bumps that spring up every now and then, make sure to bring socks for the walk up.

Wat Samphran tunnel

The views of endless greenery

Wat Samphran view

Upon emerging out from the dragon’s mouth at the very top of the tower, you will be greeted with lush views of the town below. Greenery and palm trees as far as the eye can see. As you peer over the edge of the railings, filled with lucky red ribbons inscribed with wishes of love, good health and prosperity, you will also see a large golden Buddha statue and a birds-eye view of the overgrown grounds surrounding the temple. 

Finding a good photo spot

Unless you fancy battling your way through the fields full of snakes, critters and goodness knows what else, it’s quite difficult to get a full-length photo of Wat Samphran due to the dense number of trees and swampland that surround it.

However, you will notice there is one field where the land is flat. If you continue to walk down the main road past the temple, you will see a sports and fitness center on your right. Turn in there and you will find an open field. It’s here you can snap away and get a full-length shot of the tower hugging green dragon.

Overgrown gardens and abandoned vehicles

Wat Samphran grounds

Just before entering the grounds of the temple, you will pass by an old, torn-up bus that is clearly no longer in use. The abandoned bus almost gave a sense that the temple was derelict too.

At the bottom of the temple, take your time to walk around and ponder the unusual statues of white rabbits, dolphins, and tigers that stand looking eerily. If you continue along the path, you will also come across a giant stone turtle that from the top of Wat Samphran, looks almost abandoned and filled with mold. 

Opening hours & entrance fee

Untold Wanderlust, Wat Samphran

Entrance to Wat Samphran is completely free. The only cost you will incur is the cost to get there and back. Once you’re on the grounds you have the option to donate to the running of the temple in exchange for one of the red ribbons or an orange flower garland. There is no obligation to donate anything, nor is there a set amount; you can donate as much or as little as you like. 

Opening hours: 6 am – 6 pm every day

Location of Wat Samphran and how to get there 

Wat Samphran is located in the Amphoe Sam Phran area of Nakhom Pathom province, 40 km west of Bangkok. Walking down the main road that leads to the entrance of the temple, there are a few shops and local eateries where you can grab a bite to eat before taking on the steep walk up the coiling dragon.  There’s even a 7-Eleven, and if you have visited Thailand before, you will know that where there is a 7-Eleven there’s civilization, so you won’t go hungry.

Take a taxi 

Getting to Wat Samphran can be a little difficult, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t make the effort to see it.

With little information online about how to get there, it can seem a little daunting to try to make the journey by yourself.

However, Thailand is well connected with bus services that run up and down the country and with a booming tourism industry, it’s easy to get by and ask locals for help as most of them speak English.

One option is to take a taxi there and back at a cost of 400 Baht ($12) each way.

Use public transport

Bus to Wat Samphran

To get to Wat Samhpran using local transport, you will need to take bus number 556, 511 or 79 from Ratchadamnoen Klang Road, just a few minutes walk from Khao San Road. The bus will take you to Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal for a fare of 10 Baht ($0.32).

From here you will need to transfer to one of the white minibuses. Number 88 will take you to the top of Phetkasen road, opposite Samphran hospital for a fare of 30 Baht ($1).  You will then need to walk 1 km to the looming dragon tower that is easily spotted the moment you step off the bus.

Overall, a trip to Wat Samphran is a must for any architecture lover or someone who simply wants to stray away from the popular temples in Bangkok. It takes only 40 minutes to get there, so this temple makes for a great day out and is totally worth traveling for. 


Is it still a working temple?

Yes, there are still monks who live on the premises.

Is there a dress code?

Yep. Like all temples in Thailand, you should cover your shoulders and knees. And don’t wear tight or revealing clothes. You can always carry a sarong to make sure you are covered adequately.

I’m claustrophobic. Is climbing in the dragon scary?

Well, for the claustrophobic, it very well might be. It’s a small, hot and sweaty tunnel. There is an elevator but it doesn’t always work.

Posted November 20, 2019
image of blog writers Katie and Jake
Katie and Jake of Untold Wanderlust
Nature enthusiasts who love nothing more than traveling to off the beaten path destinations around the world. Budget travel is our thing. Currently aiming to travel to every country in the world and write about it on our blog Untoldwanderlust. When we’re not on the move, we’re hunting down a bargain, sampling local beers or chillin’ in our pjs tucking into a film.
image of blog writers Katie and Jake