Situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya river away from the tourist centre of Ayutthaya, Wat Tha Ka Rong, aka The Temple of the Blackbird or the Monastery of the Landing of the Crying Crow, is an unexpected novelty away from the of the main city centre.
Formerly a campsite for Burmese troops in the White Elephant War, it is made up of a temple, Wat Tha, and a monastery, Wat Ka Rong. The site dates back to around the mid-16th century. Although still a working religious site, Wat Tha Ka Rong is an assault on the senses, it’s unique blend of colour, kitsch and sometimes downright crazy, meaning that it really should be a must see on anyone’s list when visiting Thailand’s former capital.
Imagine a temple, crossed with a British seaside amusement arcade, add about 72491 animal/superhero statues and you have some idea of this place looks like—and that’s before you get to the floating market. The floating market at the temple offers some of Thailand’s best loved dishes at super cheap prices— think plates of Pad Thai, Moo Satay (pork with peanut sauce) and Som Tam (papaya salad).
After gorging yourself on food, head down to the side of the river and buy bags of fish food that looks like colourful polystyrene pieces. Here you can throw them to the catfish who climb all over each other just to get a scrap. And not to worry if you need to use the bathroom here, thanks to it’s innovative design, Wat Tha Ka Rong also proudly boasts the Thailand ‘Best Toilet Award.’
At the time of writing, Wat Tha Ka Rong is mostly frequented by locals and there aren’t that many visitors from outside of Thailand, meaning that this temple offers a much more authentic experience than Ayutthaya’s main tourist-orientated floating market. Another plus point of Tha Ka Rong is that it does not offer the dubious animal attractions of it’s larger competitor, which can be challenging viewing for the average western traveller.