The Sanctuary of Truth creates an impressive sight on the Gulf of Thailand. Constructed entirely of wood, it was started in 1981, and completion is not expected until at least 2025. As you can see in some photos, since it is still under construction, hard hats are required inside. Every surface of the structure is decorated with ornamentation from the Hindu, Buddhist, Thai, Chinese, and Khmer traditions.
We visited Pattaya on February 13, 2016, as part of a 28-day cruise around Southeast Asia. We rarely choose to take the ship’s excursions, as they are notoriously more expensive than they need to be and often include stops with their shopping “partners” so that the cruise line can get a kickback from your purchases. At the port, we found a small company selling tours to the Sanctuary, about 7-8 miles away, for $23 per person. In all, a group of nine of us were on the minibus, and we got to know each other on the way there. We were told to meet back at the bus at noon, giving us about two hours to explore the sanctuary and take photos. Like most days in the region, it was hot – humid – sweltering. At noon, seven of the nine of our group were on the bus, waiting for the last two. Still waiting at 12:20. Still waiting at 12:40. Ten minutes after that, they came strolling slowly toward the bus, stopping to look at tables of souvenirs. Then, unbelievably, they walked past the bus and toward the large gift shop! We couldn’t believe our eyes. Two of the men ran after them, told them all of us and the driver had been waiting in the heat for them for 50 minutes, and they replied nonchalantly, “Oh, we are looking for water. We’re only 15 minutes late.” Needless to say, we have been very reluctant since then to book a shared van experience with others!
As you can see from the photos, the sculpture detailing in the wood is magnificent. There was something to see in every part of the interior. There were also elephant rides being offered! We walked through the town when we returned from the tour and took advantage of a Thai massage session. Two hours for two people cost us just under US $30. And it was amazing! We also stopped for Pad Thai and Tom Kha Ghai soup, a slightly spicy Thai soup made with coconut milk that is one of our favorite foods on the planet. It was this experience in Thailand that compelled us to revisit in 2019 for a month. The people are great, the sights are unique, the food is amazing, and the prices can’t be beat.