Wat Phanan Choeng is a Buddhist temple in the city of Ayutthaya, Thailand, on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River at the south-eastern side of the confluence of the Chao Phraya and Pa Sak rivers. Built in 1324, some 26 years before the city of Ayutthaya was officially founded, the temple must have been partly connected to early settlements in the area. These notably allegedly included a 200-strong refugee community from Song Dynasty China.
The large wihan, the highest building within the temple complex, houses an immense gilded 19 meter high seated Buddha from 1334 CE. This highly revered Buddha statue is called Luang Pho Tho by Thais, and Sam Pao Kong by Thai-Chinese. The statue is regarded as a guardian for mariners. Allegedly, prior to the destruction of Ayutthaya by the Burmese in 1767 CE, "tears flowed from the sacred eyes to the sacred navel." The statue has been restored several times in history. King Mongkut named the statue Phra Puttha Thrai Ratana Nayok after its restoration in 1854 CE.
Visit by Zheng He
The temple was visited in 1407 CE by Zheng He, a Chinese Muslim eunuch admiral from Yunnan who leading his second Ming imperial voyage. He bestowed gifts upon the temple in a great ceremony that included Siamese royal participation, and is today remembered by Thai-Chinese visitors who still visit the temple in his honour.