Exploring Wat Saket & The Golden Mount: First-Hand Guide


The wet season seemed to have come early to Bangkok this year.

And what better thing for two roaming Brits to do than climb a hill?

Whilst it is an artificial hill, climbing Wat Saket (The Golden Mount) seemed like the perfect thing to do on this steamy Thai dau.

When the rain first broke we were sat in a front-room Thai restaurant a few streets from our apartment. The owner held us back for a couple of drinks, before we convinced her to let us have the bill. She looked shocked that we’d dare venture out into the deluge.

What started as an English-esque shower had rapidly developed into a Jumanji-style storm of Biblical proportions. We paid up and left. We were two blocks from home, but in the two minutes it took us to get there we were soaked through to the marrow. 

But some good news.

A mid-afternoon end to the rain left us a window of opportunity. The sky went such a convincing, cloudless shade of blue, I was coerced into leaving the house without a rain jacket, a decision I would later regret!

So here we were, on our way to Wat Saket.

History of Wat Saket and the Golden Mount

beautiful view of wat saket ratcha wora maha wihan (wat phu khao
Beautiful view of Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan (Wat Phu Khao Thong, Golden Mount temple), a popular Bangkok tourist attraction and has become one of the symbols of the city.

Wat Saket (full name Wat Saket Ratchawora Mahawihan) is known colloquially as the Temple of the Golden Mount.

Its origins date back to the Ayutthaya period, well before Bangkok was established as the capital of Thailand initially, serving as a cremation site for the city’s deceased.

Its most prominent feature, the Golden Mount, was a later addition during the reign of King Rama I in the late 18th century. This period marked the beginning of the Chakri Dynasty, which continues to rule Thailand to this day.

The Construction of the Golden Mount

The Golden Mount, or Phu Khao Thong, is a man-made hill crowned with a gleaming chedi (stupa) that houses a Buddha relic, drawing both pilgrims and tourists.

Its construction was initially attempted during the reign of King Rama III but faced structural failures due to the soft soil. It wasn’t until the reign of King Rama IV that the structure was stabilized and completed, making it one of Bangkok’s most iconic landmarks.

Cultural and Religious Significance

Beyond its architectural marvels, Wat Saket has played a significant role in the religious and cultural practices of the Thai people.

The temple’s grounds served various purposes, including as a venue for traditional Thai festivals like Loy Krathong and the annual temple fair, which remains one of the city’s most anticipated events, attracting thousands of visitors for a week-long celebration involving traditional performances, rituals, and a lively fair.

Visiting Wat Saket – Information & Tips

dall·e 2024 02 13 20.35.49 a vibrant and detailed image showcasing the golden mount and wat saket temple in bangkok thailand. the temple is depicted bathed in the golden light copy

Opening Times

Wat Saket and the Golden Mount welcome visitors daily from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

Entrance Fees

The entry for for the Golden Mount is 100 Thai Baht.

Best Time to Visit

Morning visits are recommended to avoid the daytime heat and larger afternoon crowds.

Dress Code

Respectful attire is expected within the temple premises, with guidelines requiring coverage of shoulders and knees. Footwear must be removed before entering specific sacred areas.

Guided Tours

For those interested in a deeper exploration of Wat Saket’s historical and spiritual context, guided tours are available.

Here are a couple of tours which include Wat Saket on their itinerary:

Photography

Photography is permitted across the temple grounds and atop the Golden Mount, offering countless opportunities to capture the beauty and architectural elegance of Wat Saket. Guests are advised to exercise discretion and avoid photographing during worship or in designated no-photo zones.

Walking Up The Golden Mount

temple of the golden mount wat saket, bangkok

We paid our 100 Baht fee and headed for the red steps up the side of the Golden Mount.

The ascent was no-where near as difficult as we expected.

The sky had closed up again, and a light drizzle had started, but at this moment it was nothing more than a welcome cooling spray. This gave the walk a jungle vibe, the humidity causing steam to rise from the hot paths, and the plants either side dropping water from the ends of their leaves.

lady in jacket with traditional buddhist bells behind her
It may have been wet, but the walk up was still hot.

About halfway up there were a series of large gongs and bells which are used in Buddhism as part of ceremonies and meditation. 

the gong on the way up the golden mount
Becca ringing the gong on our walk up the Golden Mount.

Explorng the Top – Wat Saket

The views over the city were magnificent from the top, flat-roofed blocks seemingly held together with wires, long straight roads forking out in every direction and wet temple roofs, reflecting light back up towards the grey skies.

views over bangkok from wat saket temple

Unfortuantely, we weren’t here on a clear day, but the views over the city were still fantastic.

view over bangkok from temple of golden mount

Outside Wat Saket, is the huge golden chedi, which is the most visible part of this temple complex, given its location on the 80 metre tall mound!

golden chedi at the golden mount temple

We saw numerous monks going about their day-to-day business at the top of the Golden Mount, their orange robes brightening up the gloomy day.

monks at golden mount temple

This monk had a similar idea to us though, get back inside and watch the craziness of Bangkok play out in the streets below.

a monk looking out over bangkok from temple of the golden mount

The most unusual thing we found at the front was this display of vultures around a rotting corpse.

The sign in the front under a title of ‘The Vultures of Sraket Temple’ read:

“In 1820, the reign of King Rama I (1809 1024), cholera spread from Penang Island located in the Northern part of Malaysia to Bangkok leading to more than 30,000 deaths in the capital. During that period it was a practice to not cremate dead bodies inside the old city. Nearby Sraket temple became the main receiving ground of many dead bodies that wore moved in everyday. Due to the large number of the deaths, the temple was unable to cremate dead bodies everyday, therefore, left some of them in the open area of the monastery where vultures began coming to dovour those bodies.”

vulture dsipaly at bangkok temple

On the way back, our luck failed. To say it rained hard would be like saying Bangkok is ‘just another busy city’, a vast understatement that doesn’t even get near the truth.

We were soaked within minutes, but with a feeling of gratitude and calm running through us, this storm didn’t wash the smiles off our faces.

Before You Go

If you’re looking for more Thailand content, check out our complete Thailand Travel Guide.

For more on Bangkok, tips on what to do, where to eat and where to stay are in our Bangkok round up.

And if you’re interested in the best of Southeast Asia, find out what came out top of our list.

the reeves family picture

AUTHOR – BEN REEVE

Reeves Roam, is a first-hand travel blog. The Reeves have lived in the UK, South Africa and Australia and have travelled extensively in Europe and Southeast Asia.

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Thanks – Ben, Becca and Gracie

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