When vacationing in Pattaya in Thailand, most tourists choose to spend their time at the bars or hedonistic Walking Street, sunning themselves and jumping in the ocean, or hitting a few local amusements like the Tiger Park and night markets. But after even a few days there, one gets the feeling that you’re not actually experiencing authentic Thai culture, just a bacchanalianDisneyworld set up to appease (and charge) foreigners.
Thankfully, with a little online research and a few hours to spare, you can see something truly incredible that’s in-line with traditional Thai culture: the Sanctuary of Truth.
If the name hints at an epic magnitude, it doesn’t lie, as the Sanctuary of Truth is definitely a remarkable sight to behold. Located only about 20 minutes up the coastline from Pattaya proper, you’ll feel like you’re transported in another world, as this temple sits on an outcropping with blue seas on three sides of it.
You can tell the driver that you want to go to Rachvate Cape, TumbonNaklea, AmphurBanglamung, Chon Buri Province, or just ask them to bring you to the Sanctuary of Truth (much easier) and it should only cost you 200 Baht or so.
Admission into the temple grounds is 450 Baht for an adult – a significant $14 or so. But this is no old stone structure that is left to decay with little maintenance over the decades, as the Sanctuary of Truth is a monumental temple completely built out of hand carved wood. The structure is immense, too, reaching about 105 meters, or almost 350 feet high!
Walking around it outdoors reveals serious marvels of architecture, but it also gets really hot mid day so bring a shade umbrella or a hat and some sunscreen. But inside the open, breezy temple’s many entrance ways, you’ll be free to stroll around and take it all in.
In fact, every square inch of the building is covered with hand carvings, and it’s still under constant construction, inside and out. But that’s understandable, and it’s so huge that you can still get endless photos without being obstructed.
The Sanctuary complex is designed as a tribute to of the Thai Ancient Vision of Earth, Ancient Knowledge, and Eastern Philosophy.
According to their Buddhist philosophy, human beings are fleeting and rather unimportant, and will so turn to dust, re-circling back to their origins within the universe. So the only things that really matter and will live forever are truth, goodness, and morality. Therefore, earthly impulses like pleasure, comfort, and material gain are not aligned with our true purpose nor the spirit of the universe, and should not be embraced. Instead, our quest for happiness will come from simple contentment, spiritual achievements, and good thoughts and deeds.
This journey for spiritual fulfillment and ancient knowledge is the true meaning of life, and only then can we ascend to immortality past the lowly human condition.
These are the lessons we learn in Buddhism and also in Hinduism, which have similar precepts and are often intertwined throughout history in Asia.
The Sanctuary of Truth is a breathtaking, contemplative reminder of those ideas, and a welcomed cultural point of interest when one is in Pattaya!