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Nestled in amongst the bustling city of Bangkok, is a hidden gem of peace and tranquility, where ancient traditions are still practiced. This treasure is called the Golden Mountain.
Perched atop a lush green hill, the Golden Mountain, also known as Wat Saket, is an enchanting temple that offers breathtaking panoramic views of Bangkok.
It’s often overlooked by tourists who favor the more well-known temples in Old Town Bangkok, such as Wat Pho (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan, making it a serene escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you on a journey to discover the wonders of the Golden Mountain. From its rich history and architectural splendor to the mesmerizing views from its summit, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to make the most of your visit.
- What Is The Golden Mountain in Bangkok?
- How to Get to The Golden Mountain?
- Tips for Visiting The Golden Mountain
- What Does The Golden Mountain Mean to Me?
- Final Thoughts
- More Travel Tips for Bangkok
What Is The Golden Mountain in Bangkok?
The Golden Mountain has a rich and intriguing history that spans for centuries, all the way back to the Ayutthaya period. This iconic temple, standing proudly atop an 80-meter man-made hill, holds secrets that whisper through the pages of time.
On this site, a temple was built in the Ayutthaya period (1350-1767), and was known as Wat Sakae, but was later renamed by King Rama I to Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan after its restoration.
At one time, the Golden Mountain temple was the highest point in Bangkok, but in the mid-20th century, Bangkok saw a huge modern development and it’s no longer the case.
It is said that during the reign of King Rama III, during the early 19th century, embarked on a grand vision to build a magnificent chedi on this site.
However, due to unstable ground conditions and soft soil, the chedi collapsed, leaving behind a mound of debris. Undeterred by the collapsing, the king decided to transform this mishap into an opportunity.
With unwavering determination, King Rama III ordered the construction of a temple complex around the mound, earning the name Wat Saket Temple.
Over the years, this temple has witnessed numerous transformations and renovations, becoming an important spiritual and cultural landmark in Bangkok.
King Rama IV began construction of a small chedi on the hill, but it was completed by King Rama V between 1853–1910 who also covered it in a layer of gold. The golden stupa still stands today.
A Buddha relic was also brought from Sri Lanka and placed inside the chedi. To stop the artificial hill from collapsing, the concrete walls were added in the 1940s.
Today, visitors can ascend the scenic spiral staircase that winds its way to the summit of the Golden Mountain. The reward awaiting them is not just a breathtaking 360-degree view of Bangkok, but an appreciation for the resilience and beauty born from adversity.
Things to See and Do at The Golden Mountain in Bangkok
As you ascend the spiraling staircase of Wat Saket, you’ll be met with the breathtaking panoramic views that stretch across the vibrant city of Bangkok.
But the Golden Mountain has more to offer than just its awe-inspiring vistas. As you explore the temple complex, you can uncover hidden treasures, such as ancient statues, intricate murals, and ornate architecture.
Be sure to check out the following landmarks…
The Shrine Hall
The Shrine Hall is an exquisite sanctuary that offers tranquility and spiritual reverence. As you enter through its ornate doors, a hushed aura washes over you, inviting introspection and contemplation.
The Shrine Hall is adorned with intricate carvings and vibrant murals that depict ancient tales of enlightenment and devotion.
The flickering candlelight casts a soft glow, creating an ethereal ambiance that resonates with the whispers of prayers and wishes.
Here, you can pay homage to revered deities and seek solace in their presence. The air is thick with devotion, as locals and travelers alike offer their respects and embrace the serenity that permeates the space.
Be sure to be quiet and respectful when entering this sacred space.
At the base of the Golden Mountain, lies an intriguing cemetery, shrouded in history and overgrown with vines and trees. This serene resting place holds a poignant story from the late 18th century, as it houses the ashes of numerous plague victims.
The people buried here were victims to cholera, and during the 18th century, it was unsafe to bury plague victims inside the city walls, and so they were buried here.
The vast number of bodies attracted vultures to the temple complex, though while vultures don’t stalk the skies here anymore, vulture sculptures can be found on the temple complex as a reminder.
The unwealthy families would also bring their deceased to the temple, who would offer a cremation.
As you walk past the graves, adorned with pictures of wealthy individuals, you can imagine what life must have been like for the people who lived here.
Though often overshadowed by the magnificent temple atop the Golden Mountain, the cemetery serves as a reminder of the impermanence of life and the interconnectedness of past and present.
Visit During Loy Krathong Festival
During the time of the Loy Krathong Festival in November, also known as the Lantern Festival, an annual precession takes place here.
The event features a candlelight procession from Phu Khao Thong to the chedi where the relic of the buddha lies, which will be wrapped in a long red cloth acting as a robe.
Devotees are then encouraged to write their names and the names of their family on the robe and pray.
This long-standing tradition has taken place every year since King Rama V.
How to Get to The Golden Mountain?
To reach this iconic landmark, you must first head to the Old Town of Bangkok, which is reachable by metro, at stop Sam Yot and then walking for 20 minutes.
Alternatively, you can take a water taxi which navigates Bangkok’s canals. There is a water taxi that runs along the Chao Phraya River and stops in the old town.
The pier is Tha Phra Chan, and from there it’s a 30 minute walk but you do pass the sites of the old town.
Opening Hours & Entrance Fee
The temple complex costs 100 baht to enter and includes one free drink. It’s open every day from 7.00am – 7.00pm.
Tips for Visiting The Golden Mountain
Before you go, remember these following tips:
- There is a dress code for entering temples in Bangkok. Your knees and shoulders must be covered and you should dress modestly.
- Pack plenty of water, as it can get hot and humid in Bangkok.
- The best time of year to visit is in the winter, when the weather is cooler. November until February is the peak season, so Bangkok will be busy. Visit early to avoid the crowds.
- Upon entering the temple complex, it is customary to remove your shoes, so wear easily removable footwear.
- Note that there are 344 steps to the top, be sure to take breaks when climbing the steps. Along the way up you’ll find a waterfall and places to sit and admire the views.
- For the best experience, consider visiting the temple in the late afternoon or early evening to witness a breathtaking sunset.
What Does The Golden Mountain Mean to Me?
I see the Golden Mountain Bankgok temple in a photograph, or in the distance when I drive on the streets of Bangkok, and my heart soars with memories of a life of adventure, discovery and freedom.
The Golden Mountain, or its more exotic name, Phu Khao Thong, greeted us every morning from the window of our school office bedroom.
I would often take my students for walks up to the top of the golden mount or we’d play Frisbee in the gardens below.
We had the honour and privilege of attending many Buddhist ceremonies in the grounds of the Wat Saket the adjoining temple, including the anointing of a very famous Thai pop singer into novice monkhood
Wat Saket is a Royal temple of Bangkok; we felt special teaching and living at the school connected to it.
We knew we could never get lost in Bangkok. All we had to do was say “Golden Mountain please” and were brought safely home.
Sometimes if we were late we would have to climb over the locked 9ft high school fence. We’d wake the night guard with our giggles mid-leg throw over.
He jump from his wooden bench bed, shake his head when he saw it was just as crazy falangs and laugh.
The Golden Mountain faithfully steered us home after nights spent on Khao San Road getting our Western fix and street meals of Pad Thai.
My colleague and friend Jintina would sit with me in her small office and we’d talk in jilted English. Her laughter always framed by the Golden Mountain sitting outside her window.
Oh, how I miss that Golden Mountain and those days.
You don’t realize the depths your memories will be when you are making them. We didn’t understand how much that Bangkok temple, the Golden Mountain was affecting our lives and changing us.
At the time we thought our life was filled with the problems of adjustment and culture shock. The anguish associated with this was far too present.
Now in the future, I don’t remember those problems and negative emotions, I only remember what was so great.
Don’t focus on the bad in your life, it will always be there; it is meaningless and unmemorable. The problems of adjustment will mean nothing to you years later.
All that will matter is the joy you didn’t even realize you were having – focus only on experiencing this in the present moment.
We get frustrated with the challenges of travel that seem to be so present.
They overshadow that which is really good. And that which is really good is always there, we just have to choose to focus on it.
Video: The Golden Mountain, Bangkok
More Travel Tips for Bangkok
- Top 27 Things to do in Bangkok
- a 3-Day itinerary of Bangkok – the main attractions and more
- Places to escape the chaos of Bangkok
- Planning a trip to Thailand with kids
- Don’t miss these floating markets in Bangkok
- Guide to visiting the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market
- Helpful tips for traveling to Thailand with kids
- Visiting Grand Palace Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew
Is there a place in your travels that, at the time seemed fraught with challenges, but now when you look back you realize how memorable and magical it really was?