The Giant Swing at Wat Suthat

Wat Suthat Thep Wararam - วัดสุทัศนเทพวราราม 

One of Bangkok's most iconic landmarks is the Giant Swing, a towering red monument looking something like a Japanese torii gate, but serving a very different purpose. Long ago used in a royal ceremony by the kingdom's secretive royal court Brahmins, the swing today serves as a symbol of the City of Angels.

Wat Suthat Temple, the home of the Giant Swing, is a first-class temple of the royal grade, of which there are only ten in all of Bangkok.

Wat Suthat Temple and the Giant Swing in Bangkok's old town
Wat Suthat Temple and the Giant Swing in Bangkok's old town

Surrounding the temple sanctuary are twenty-eight miniature Chinese-style pagodas carved from stone. According to the Buddhist scriptures, there have been twenty-seven Buddhas before the enlightenment of Prince Siddhārtha Gautama. Each of these twenty-eight pagodas therefore correspond to one of the ancient enlightened lives of the Buddha.

Chinese pagodas surrounding Wat Suthat Temple
28 Chinese pagodas surrounding Wat Suthat Temple, corresponding to the lives of the Buddha

While Wat Suthat itself is a beautiful and important royal temple, the Giant Swing, which soars above the temple along Bamrung Ruang Road, is the most remarkable feature of the temple.

The Giant Swing - Sao Chingcha

  • The crimson-painted teak wood Giant Swing stands a towering 69 feet (21 meters) tall.
  • The Giant Swing has been repaired and reconstructed several times, including most recently in 2007.
  • Wood from the original Giant Swing can be found on display in Bangkok's National Museum.

The Swing Ceremony - Triyampavai-Tripavai

The Giant Swing was constructed in 1748 at the orders of King Rama I. The swing was used for an annual Hindu-Brahmin ritual called the "Swing Ceremony", in which a bag of gold coins would be  suspended from the swing, and people would slingshot themselves up to the bag to try to grab it. Those who managed to grab the bag got to keep it, although the ritual was very dangerous.

The Swing Ceremony was abolished in 1935 following a series of deaths and injuries.

The Royal Court Brahmins of Thailand

While Thailand is officially a Buddhist country, few people know about the royal court Brahmins, a dynastic caste of Hindu priests, who preside over the twelve religious rituals of the Thai court and Thai royal family. The most well-known of these are the yearly Royal Ploughing Ceremony, an annual ritual to pray for a bountiful harvest, as well as the coronation of the Thai monarch.

 
The Giant Swing, Bangkok, Thailand
The Giant Swing, Bangkok, Thailand

When to visit Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing (Opening Hours)

  • Wat Suthat is open daily from 8:30 to 21:00

Wat Suthat and Giant Swing admission

  • Visitors must purchase a ticket for 100 baht to visit the temple, although the Giant Swing, which is located along the main road, is free to visit and photograph

Giant Swing Location and Map

  • Wat Suthat is located in Bangkok's old town (Rattanakosin) neighborhood near Loha Prasat and Wat Saket
  • Bamrung Muang Rd, Khwaeng Sao Chingcha, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200
  • https://goo.gl/maps/2Q2FN4xxc9T2

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