The Sanctuary of Truth, Pattaya, Thailand


When one has spent enough time in Thailand, if ever that is possible, the temples tend to all sort of blend into one. The phrase “I’m all templed out” becomes a common heard expression amongst expats and regular travellers alike. However occasionally you can find a little gem to stimulate the senses. The Sanctuary of Truth is such a gem and well worth the entrance fee. Standing at an impressive 105 metres tall, it is constructed wholly from wood, no metal fixings have been used at all.

The backdrop to the dance performance area

Building commenced on this privately owned temple back in 1981 and 400 highly skilled artisans have been hard at it ever since. This wooden temple it is unique among a sea of concrete, gold leaf and mirror tiled temples in the Land of Smiles. The carving work here is extraordinary and impossible to describe adequately. Photographs cannot display the intricacy and sheer volume of the beautiful carving that adorns just about every inch of this unfinished masterpiece. 

The Impressive 105 metre tall Sanctuary of Truth sits on a small headland overlooking the bay by North Pattaya
The intricacy and sheer volume of the wood carving is quite incredible

Location of the Sanctuary of Truth

The Sanctuary of Truth is situated on a cape, overlooking the bay of North Pattaya,  a 3km ride from The Bangkok Hospital on Sukhumvit Road. It occupies a large site that includes a couple of restaurants, an area where dance displays are held, a paddock with delightful ponies and sadly, a space given over to elephant rides. Surely the time has come to see and end to these. 

People’s desire to interact with these beautiful creatures often overrules their sense of what is good for them

Constructed in cruciform, the Sanctuary of Truth features four halls adjoining a central area. Each hall, when fully completed, will represent a different aspect of the religion; featuring Thai, Khmer, Chinese and Indian religious iconography.  One hall represents birth, another the four elements whilst another is dedicated to the Bodhisattva. The central area has a large high ceiling which once again includes absolutely remarkable carving. There are many dedications to Thailand’s much loved, late King Bhumibol here.

A dedication to the much revered King Bhumibol
Looking up at the ceiling of the Central hall

The Birth Hall is still largely under construction and nothing more than a tentative glance of the superb carving was possible at the time of writing.

Whilst work is continuing this section was roped off, but looking in it is easy to see the extent of the beautiful carving

The Elements Hall features statues of the four element gods, wind, earth, water and fire It sits opposite the entrance facing out to the northwest overlooking the bay.

The God Of Wind in The Elements Hall
The God of Earth in The Elements Hall
The God of Water in The Elements Hall
The God of Fire in The Elements Hall

The Hall of the Bodhisattva is just about completed and is a superb space with once again immaculate carvings to just about every inch ion available wood. 

The stunning Hall dedicated to the Bodhisattva (apologies for the glare)

The magnificent carving work at the Sanctuary of Truth is not reserved for the interior, the exterior walls are completely covered. The design in places is really quite spectacular. Huge elephants and depictions of the Buddha adorn the walls. Large structural pillars are also carved, intricately.

One of the artisans (top left) continues with the enormous job of carving the entire temple
Truly splendid carving is everywhere

Visiting the Sanctuary of Truth involves negotiating about 200 steps and is not for those who find walking and climbing stairs difficult. However, there is a disabled lift being fitted and ramps for wheelchairs are everywhere. It seems that as the work is completed at some point in the future this will be one of the most accessible temples I’ve seen in Thailand for people with mobility issues. 

The Sanctuary of Truth

Naklua Soi 12



Chonburi, 20150

Opening Hours: 8.00am - 6.00pm daily

Admission THB500 Adults. THB 250 Children

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Following a highly successful 25-year career as a singer/songwriter and musician, Keith pulled out of the rat race and moved to Southeast Asia in 2008. First living in Thailand, he moved to Cambodia and then relocated to Ho Chi Minh City in early 2013. Keith has had work published in magazines and websites in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and Asia. He has written for the BBC and has appeared on TV and radio in many different countries. His great loves are music and travel, but he writes on a whole range of subjects.