Wat Nai is the smallest temple in Koh Phangan, no monks now live there, and the location of the oldest structure on the island of Koh Phangan. The Chedi (pointed tower) at Wat Nai was built in the early 1800s by monks who came to Koh Phangan when the island had few permanent settlers and only remained on the island for a short time leaving behind this monument.
About Wat Nai
Little is known about the early history of Koh Phangan, with few ancient artefacts having discovered on the island and little research ever having been undertaken to find out more about the island’s history. The most likely scenario is that people came from the mainland of Thailand to settle on Koh Phangan during the last 1800s and before that the island was visited frequently by the nomadic Moken people with no permanent settlers in the interior of the island. Some people have suggested that the Semang (an ancient South East Asian Negrito ethnic group) may have settle on the island although there is no evidence to support that theory other than the evidence that the Semang people had also settled in part of mainland Thailand further to the South.
The likelihood is that the monks who came to build Wat Nai chedi faced a range of hardship. There would have been few Buddhists on the island to provide alms and construction materials for building temples would have needed to have been transported to the island by sea. Nonetheless, the monks who came built three chedis, only one of which remains intact today.
Visiting Wat Nai
Of the two chedis which disappeared, one was made of small bricks and the other of coral and shells set in cement. The surviving chedi is made of concrete and features pictures of mythical creatures, Chinese soldiers and has crockery inset into the structure.
Wat Nai Chedi is free to visit and open all day, every day. There is no visitor centre and there are rarely any monks in the small temple building by the chedi.
Travel to Wat Nai
Wat Nai is in the grounds of Wat Po, on the other side of the road from the main part of the temple. By road Wat Nai is 6.5 km from the port town of Thong Sala. To reach Wat Nai by public transport take a shared taxi from the ferry port towards either Haad Rin and asked to be dropped at the turn to the Thong Nai Pan Road, from there its a 1.2 km walk to Wat Nai and you can visit the Giant Tree at the same time.
There are two places you can take a ferry from the mainland to Koh Phangan: Chumphon and Surat Thani Provinces. If you plan to travel to Koh Phangan then the first stage of the journey is to get yourself to one of those ferry ports. Koh Phangan is a popular destination and it is easy to travel there with various companies providing combined bus and ferry services from major cities and town, such as Bangkok, Krabi, Hat Yai and Phuket direct to Koh Phangan. There are also bus and ferry services direct from the train stations in Surat Thani and Chumphon to Koh Phangan, as well from Surat Thani Airport to Koh Phangan.
Location of Wat Nai
- Wat Nai is in Bantai on the South Coast of Koh Phangan.