Wat Saket ‘The temple of the Golden Mount’, which is located outside the old Rattanakosin island area of Bangkok, is one of the city’s oldest temples. During the Ayutthaya period, which lasted until 1767, the temple was referred to as Wat Sakae, but by the order of King Rama I the temple was restored and renamed Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan.
The structure of Wat Saket is distinct because of the 80-meter high mountain, called Phu Khao Thong (meaning Golden Mountain), where the temple’s main gilded chedi (or stupa) rests. This ‘mountain’, formed from the debris of a collapsed chedi commissioned to be built by King Rama III, was once the highest point in all of Bangkok. The Golden Mountain is a well-known and much revered landmark in Bangkok. A climb to the top of the mount is a journey of more than 300 steps.
Near the base of the steps is an unusual cemetery, overgrown with vines and trees, where the ashes of numerous plague victims of the late 18th century are buried into the base of the Golden Mountain. Because the temple served as the primary crematorium during this dark period in Bangkok’s history the cemetery and its surrounding neighborhood became known as ‘Ghost Gate’.
Visitors are treated to several resting spots and viewpoints while climbing the many steps leading to the top of the mount.
Upon reaching the top of the steps visitors are rewarded with a 360 degree view of Bangkok. To the west you can see the Temple of the Emerald Buddha at the Grand Palace. To the northwest you can see the Rama VI bridge with its golden suspension cables. Looking east you can see the towers of Bangkok’s business district.
Customer feedback – “This place has amazing views all over Bangkok, lovely temple really enjoyed our visit here. Would recommend going at sunset for an even better view.”
The temple hosts an annual festival in November, which lasts a week during Loy Krathong. During this time, a candlelight procession of worshippers ascends the mount and the golden chedi is covered with a bright red cloth to mark the auspiciousness of the festival. Visiting Wat Saket during this time is a rare opportunity that allows locals and tourists alike to experience first-hand the decorative and lively atmosphere of a large scale temple festival.
Wat Saket and the Golden Mount are open every day from 9am until 7pm.
Admission price: Admission to the temple (Wat Saket) is free. Admission to the chedi at the top of the mountain is 50 Baht.
Things you should be aware of when visiting the Wat Saket:
- Respectful attire is required. Wat Saket is a functioning Thai Buddhist temple, and a such the management insists that visitors dress in a respectful manner. This means that men must wear long pants and short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirts (no tank tops or sleeveless shirts). Women must wear skirts or pants extending at least to the knee, and also should not wear a top that reveals bare shoulders.
- Visitors are allowed to take photographs in any area of the complex.
- During the annual Loy Krathong festival the temple grounds can get very crowded.