Wat Saphan Kluea, or the Monastery of the Salt Bridge, is located in the Hua Ro Sub-district of Ayutthaya on an island called Ko Loi (1) in the northeastern corner of the city. The remains of the monastery can be found in a residential area near the technical school. Ko Loi can be accessed by crossing the metal floating bridge to the Ayutthaya Ship Building Industrial and Technology College (ASBITC). Another possibility is taking a hired boat to Wat Monthop from the pier in front of the Chan Kasem National Museum.

The ruin is on or near the premises of the ASBITC. Old bricks were noticed along the earthen path before arriving at the bell tower, which could indicate that another monastic structure sits under a school building. The large bell tower of the late Ayutthaya period (1633-1767 CE) stands along the Front Moat (2). The structure has two storeys on the upper floor hung the bell, while the lower part likely contained a drum. The tower is in prang shape with lotus petal gaps on the four sides. The brick-and-mortar bell tower is still in good condition, but it is usually covered in heavy vegetation for most of the year. There is a surprising amount of roof tile around the site.

On the opposite side of the walking path is a small shrine where probably a preaching hall used to be. This shrine has five Buddha images inside – all in the Virasana pose and the Bhumisparsha mudra gesture. There are some remains of old Buddha images beside the shrine as well.

Why the monastery is named ‘salt bridge’ remains a question. In the Ayutthaya era, there was only one bridge linking the city island with the mainland, and this bridge was at Hua Ro. Maybe salt was unloaded in this area. We know from the old documents that Mon, with large boats of six to seven fathoms beam, transported white salt next to ripe coconuts and olive mangrove wood. The salt came from the salt pans of the upper-peninsula coastal tract. The Mon came probably from Phetchaburi and other coastal areas of the upper peninsula as they also brought a type of mangrove wood which grows well in that tract. [1]

Simon de La Loubère, in his work ‘Description du Royaume de Siam’, even complained about the poor quality of the salt. [2]


A paragraph of the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya regarding the first fall of Ayutthaya in 1569 CE mentions Wat Saphan Kluea. In December 1568 CE (reign of King Mahin 1568-1569 CE), a large Burmese army invaded Siam and positioned itself around Ayutthaya. The King of Ava established a fortification near Wat Saphan Kluea, north of the main enemy effort in the southeast. The troops of Prince Maha Thammaracha (reign 1569-1590 CE) from Phitsanulok and the Burmese Uparat advanced over Kaeo Island towards the city. The siege lagged on until 30 August 1569 CE, and in the end, Ayutthaya fell to the combined forces of Pegu and Phitsanulok. Ayutthaya's power as a rival political and trading centre was undermined, and the fall concluded the merger between Ayutthaya and the Northern Cities. King Mahin either died during the siege or was taken to Pegu. King Bhureng Noung invited Prince Maha Thammaracha to ascend the throne of the Capital City of Ayutthaya. [3]

"Now the King of Hongsawadi sent troops in to attack the stockade at the edge of the river on the side of the Rattanachai Fort Gate. Phraya Ram, Phraya Kalahom, Phra Insa, Phra Maha Thep, Phra Maha Montri, and all the phra from the provinces and all the khun and mün helped each other and put their hearts into their official work of fighting to defend the city and of not allowing the men of Hongsawadi to hack their way inside. Phra Maha Thep sent volunteers out to cut their way through the men of Hongsawadi and routed them repeatedly. And the conduct of the war fell behind schedule. The King of Hongsawadi was furious and had the military officers taken and punished. Then, taking over direction of the operation, he sent the Uparat to establish a stockade at Kæo Island in the Vicinage of Din Mountain Monastery, the King of Ava, his son-in-law, to establish a stockade in the Vicinage of Salt Bridge Monastery, the King of Prae, his nephew, to establish a stockade at Ian Village in the Vicinage of Can Monastery, and ordered them to expedite the construction of dirt causeways across the river from each vicinage until they reached the other side. The Uparat, the King of Ava and the King of Prae came to expedite the work in accordance with their orders. When the men of the Capital and the officials saw what was happening, they brought up their cannon and smaller guns to fire in salvos and killed the enemy in great numbers.” [4]

Phraya Boran Rachathanin wrote in the late twenties of the last century that Wat Saphan Kluea was a monastery with a royal sponsoring (วัดหลวง) and stood empty at the time of his writing. [5]

There was a boat ferry between the monastery and a landing called ‘Tha Phaet Tamruat’ (ท่าแปดตำรวจ), a landing probably situated close to a guard or police post south of the Front Palace. (3) [6]

There was a land market in front of Wat Khae down to Wat Saphan Kluea, one of the thirty land markets of the city in the Ayutthaya era. [7]

Wat Saphan Kluea on the maps

The monastery is indicated on a 19th-century map in front of Wat Khwang Fortress on the opposite side of the city island and near the confluence of the Front Moat and the former Khlong Sai (4).

Wat Saphan Kluea is also mentioned on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's [PBR] map drafted in 1926 CE. PBR seems to indicate two structures. The structure in the west is Wat Saphan Kluea, but the structure in the east is marked on a 1993 CE FAD map as Wat Jampa (5), a different temple. Wat Saphan Kluea has been shown on all Fine Arts Department maps since 1957 CE.

Wat Saphan Kluea was one of the six monasteries on Ko Loi. The other temples were Wat Monthop, Wat Khae, Wat Inthawat/Wat Sri Jampa, Wat Ngu and Wat Khao San Dam.

The remaining brickwork of Wat Saphan Kluea is in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 57.72", N 100° 34' 41.28" E.


(1) Ko Loi, or Floating Island, is surrounded in the north by Khlong Chong Lom, in the east by the (new) Pa Sak River and in the west by the (new) Lopburi River. Khlong Chong Lom was dug in the early 20th century to reduce the whirlpools near Wat Tong Pu and the Chantra Kasem Palace, separating Wat Chong Lom from the eastern mainland. As the Lopburi River and the Pa Sak River were joining near Wat Tong Pu, and the erosive force of the two rivers was destroying the embankment in front of the Chantra Kasem Palace, the idea rose to divert the Pa Sak River. The diversion was made shortly after the digging of Khlong Chong Lom. Khlong Sai, a small canal cutting through the eastern mainland from Wat Chong Lom to the present Ayutthaya Ship Building Industrial and Technology College, was widened and deepened. The Pa Sak River, instead of running in front of Wat Tong Pu, changed its course and ran straight from Wat Pa Kho to Wat Phanan Choeng.

(2) Khlong Na Mueang, or Khu Khue Na (Front Moat), ran east of the city of Ayutthaya. The former moat is said to have been dug in the reign of King Ramathibodhi I, also called King U-Thong. It was initially a defensive moat or could have been a separation ditch (borderline) between the ancient city of Ayodhya, situated in the oxbow of the Pa Sak River and the newly established city of Ayutthaya in the oxbow of the Lopburi River. The Royal Palace stood on the premises of the present ruins of Wat Phra Si Sanphet, and the earthen walls surrounding the city were likely not further than the moat, later known as Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak.

(3) In the Ayutthaya era, there were twenty-two ferry routes. In the eastern area, the four other crossings were: Tha Chang Wang Na to Tha Wilanda, south of Wat Khwang to Wat Nang Chi, south of Wat Pa Thon to Wat Phichai and north of Rachakrue Fortress to Wat Ko Kaeo. [1]

(4) Khlong Sai is a defunct canal once situated off the city island in the northern area, in the Hua Ro Sub-district and, at present, a stretch of the Pa Sak River. Khlong Sai, or Sand Canal, was a small canal cutting through the eastern mainland, in front of Wat Khae and Wat Chong Lom, going south towards the present Ayutthaya Ship Building Industrial and Technology College, where it joined the Front Moat or Khu Khue Na.

(5) On a 2007 FAD GIS map, this structure is called Wat Inthawat (Wat Sri Jampa).


[1] Baker, Chris (2011). Before Ayutthaya Fell: Economic Life in an Industrious Society. Markets and Production in the City of Ayutthaya before 1767: Translation and Analysis of Part of the Description of Ayutthaya. Journal of the Siam Society. Vol. 99.

[2] Loubère, Simon (de la) (1691). Description du Royaume de Siam (2 Tomes). Amsterdam.

[3] Baker, Chris & Phongpaichit, Pasuk (2017). A history of Ayutthaya, Siam in the Early modern World. Cambridge University Press.

[4] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. pp. 64-5.

[5] Rachathanin, Phraya Boran. Athibai Phaenthi Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya kap khamwinitjai khong Phraya Boran Rachathanin. Explanation of the map of the Capital of Ayutthaya with a ruling of Phraya Boran Rachathanin - Revised 2nd edition and Geography of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. Ton Chabab print office. Nonthaburi (2007).

[6] Baker, Chris (2014). Final Part of the Description of Ayutthaya with Remarks on Defense, Policing, Infrastructure, and Sacred Sites. Journal of the Siam Society, Vol. 102.

[7] Baker, Chris (2011). Before Ayutthaya Fell: Economic Life in an Industrious Society. Markets and Production in the City of Ayutthaya before 1767: Translation and Analysis of Part of the Description of Ayutthaya. Journal of the Siam Society. Vol. 99.