The Golden Mount Temple or the Wat Saket sits on a hillock, gleaming and majestic, looking over Bangkok, unfettered by the hustle and bustle of the city and providing those who visit a peaceful and meditative space.
Once the highest point of Bangkok, the Temple of the Golden Mount is a popular worship site with devotees visiting throughout the year. The temple and its surroundings, however, come alive during the Loi Krathong festival held in November.
For us, the Golden Mount was actually our favourite temple on our Bangkok itinerary; a veritable oasis and, personally, head and shoulders above the more famous Wat Arun. So, if you’re keen to get away from the madness of the city below, read on for the full guide to the magnificent Golden Mount…
History of Golden Mount Temple
The history of the Golden Mount Temple can be traced all the back to the 18th century or the Ayutthaya era in Thailand. King Rama I, the first ruler of the Rattanakosin Kingdom, renamed it Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan.
During his reign from 1788 to 1851, King Rama III decided to build a chedi or a bell-shaped tower next to the temple complex. However, the soft soil around the region could not withstand a structure of such enormous dimensions, and the chedi collapsed mid-way through the construction.
The project was abandoned, and the site assumed a natural hill shape with weeds and plants growing over it. It was not until the rule of King Rama IV and later King Rama V that a chedi was built on top of the hill.
The Golden Mount, otherwise known as the Phu Khao Thong (which means Golden Mountain), is now one of the most recognizable landmarks in Thailand and, of course, Bangkok.
The temple is also an important one because of its significance as a burial ground during the period of the Rattanakosin Kingdom. The kingdom was impacted by thousands of deaths due to a cholera outbreak from 1820 to 1840. During that time, the Wat Saket served as the main cemetery in Bangkok. In fact, the mortality rate was so high during the regime of King Rama III that the bodies of the deceased were just left in the open area near the monastery for vultures to come and feed on them.
Read next: Want to travel throughout Thailand? Check out our 3 week Thailand guide.
Highlights of Golden Mount Temple
The main highlight of the Golden Mount Temple, for us, was the Golden Mount itself. You can reach the top of the 80-metre mountain by climbing the 318 steps that lead you to the gilded chedi. All along, you are guided by the sounds of Buddhist chants and the ringing of the bells. The path curves around the mountain and is beautifully decorated by gently cascading waterfalls and statues. Tree and plants line the stairway with branches hanging low, creating a fresh, green, and serene atmosphere.
Ring the bells that line a section of the walkaway just before you reach the top; they are said to bring good luck. They produce a reverberating sound that is strangely calming. At the top, breathtaking 360-degree views of the city await you. We spent a good hour over here, just admiring the stunning golden stupa, the sight of gently fluttering flags, taking in panoramic views of the city, and just feeling the breeze and tranquility of the surroundings. You can even spot the Grand Palace and the shining Wat Arun from the top!
The chedi holds within it a relic of Lord Buddha that was brought from Sri Lanka.
You will notice locals offering money, incense sticks, and flowers to the chedi. You might also observe that many of the bells and some trees have little notes hanging from them. You can pick up a leaf-shaped note at the temple base, write your name, a wish, or a message and tie it around the tree.
There is a statue installation of the ‘Vultures of Wat Saket’ to remember those who died during the deadly plague. You can visit this on the way down. At the base, you will also find the temple complex that houses the main ordination hall and the viharn. Don’t miss out on visiting the Maha Bodhi tree, located within the premises.
The best times to visit the temple complex are early in the morning before the sun starts to get really intense, or later in the evening, after 5 pm. It’s one of the best places in Bangkok to catch a sunset!
If you are planning on an early morning visit to the temple, do try to catch a glimpse of the Golden Mount Temple at sunset from afar. Lit up and glowing, it makes for an unforgettable sight as the sun goes down and the sky changes colors.
The annual festival at the Golden Mount Temple
The Loi Krathong festival is celebrated with great pomp and gaiety all over Thailand in November, and the festivities at the Golden Mount Temple are no exception. Devotees flock to the temple during the week with long red pieces of cloth wrapped around their heads. They climb up to the top and then wrap the fabric around the chedi.
The grounds near the temple have a carnival-like atmosphere with game stalls, Ferris wheels, a haunted house, and plenty of food stalls popping up. This is a great time to visit if you want to get a feel for a Thai festival.
Do note that the temple gets very busy during this period, especially during the evenings.
Recommended reading: Keen to check out other Thailand temples? Here’s a guide to the best temples in Chiang Rai.
How to get to Golden Mount Temple
The Golden Mount Temple is located in the centre of the Old Town, in the Pom Prap Sattru Phai district.
The Sam Yot metro station on the MTR Blue line is the closest one to the temple. From the station, it’s a 10-15 min walk to the temple. You can also take the BTS Skytrain and get off at the National Stadium station, which then includes a 30 min walk.
Depending on where you are coming from, you could also take a ferry across the Chao Phraya River to the Phanfa Pier station. The temple is a short 5 min walk from the pier.
You could also take a taxi or tuk tuk to the temple complex.
Golden Mount Temple Location: 344, Chakkraphatdi Phong, Ban Bat, Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10100
What to wear to the Golden Mount Temple
As with most religious attractions in Thailand, it is best to wear modest clothes while visiting the temple. Clothes that cover the shoulders and knees are recommended.
Golden Mount Temple Entrance fee & Opening Times
Admission to the temple itself is free. If you want to climb up the Golden Mount, you will have to buy a ticket. Tickets for foreigners cost 50 Baht (1.15 GBP / 1.50 USD). The temple is open from 7.30 am to 7 pm.
Other attractions near the Golden Mount Temple
The Democracy Monument is just a kilometre away from the Golden Mount Temple, as is the Giant Swing. The famous Khao San Rd and Yaowarat Rd (Bangkok’s Chinatown) are also a 10 min taxi ride away from the Wat Saket.
The Loha Prasat, also called the Metal Castle, is located close by and can be easily combined with a visit to the Golden Mount temple.
Other notable temples in Bangkok
There is no dearth of stunning temples in Bangkok!
The Wat Phra Kaew or ‘The Temple of the Emerald Buddha’ is located within the premises of the Grand Palace and arguably, is one of the most visited temples in Bangkok. It is home to the 66 cm tall Emerald Buddha, which is made of jade.
The Wat Pho or ‘The Temple of the Reclining Buddha’ is yet another personal favorite. One has to witness the Reclining Buddha to get a grasp of its enormous scale. Actually, if you want to know more about that one, definitely give our Wat Pho Temple Guide a read!
The Wat Arun is yet another beauty located close by. Despite being popularly known as the Temple of Dawn, the Wat Arun dazzles at sunset. A truly unforgettable sight!
Or one of our favourites, Wat Benchamabophit Dusitwanaram, which has to be one of the best sunrise shots in the whole of Bangkok.
Want to get off the beaten path in Thailand? Then check out the best Thai hidden gems.
Where to stay in Bangkok
We’ve stayed all over the city and it’s definitely true that there is a type of accommodation to cater to any taste and any budget! But, there are our faves in each category:
Budget: You’ve got a myriad of backpacker options but the best of the bunch is usually Diff Hostel. A great place to make new friends, but with really solid amenities on offer too.
Mid-range: We often stayed at the Printing House Poshtel. It’s an affordable hotel which has wonderful rooms (very comfy), a social atmosphere and is easy on the wallet.
Luxury: There are some fabulous first-class options but if you have dosh to spare, the Banyan Tree is a brilliant choice. A boutique hotel offering plush rooms, a world-class spa and a to-die-for restaurant.
Other things to do in Bangkok
So we’ve mentioned a heap of other temples, and a turn at Khao San Road. But, as one of the most vibrant cities in the world, there is of course a whole lot more to do in Bangkok. Either give our Bangkok guide a read or, check out one of these highlights:
Hit the food and crafts markets
You can’t come to Bangkok and not gorge yourself on all the delicious food on offer. And the best way to do so is to frequent the many wonderful food markets on offer. Our favourite is probably the Or Tor Kor Market but there are loads others, including the famed Chatuchak market (only open on weekends).
Check out a floating market
We might find them a little touristy, but most people heading to Bangkok will try to head to a floating market. The most famous is the Damnoen Saduak floating market (yes, the one that’s in the James Bond movies!). It’s a bit far out of town so we suggest you book a tour – this one from Get Your Guide is highly recommended.
Sink a cocktail at the Sky Bar
Bangkok is known for its city skyline, even better seen at night. To see it in action, head to one of the many rooftop bars sprinkled across the town. Of course the most renowned has to be the Lebua Sky Bar, the one made famous by the Hangover II!
Golden Mount Temple FAQ
What is the Golden Mount Temple?
The Golden Mount, otherwise known as Wat Saket or the Phu Khao Thong, is one of the most recognisable temples and landmarks in Bangkok, Thailand. The ancient temple was built in the Ayutthaya period, during the reign of King Rama V. It is 77 metres tall and houses a number of interesting features including a temple hall, pagoda, a Bodhi tree and a line of bells where ringing them brings good luck.
What time does the Golden Mount Temple open?
The Golden Mount Temple (Wat Saket Temple) opens each day at 7.30am and closes at 7pm.
What should I wear to the Golden Mount Temple?
Like most temples and religious buildings in Thailand, you should wear respectable clothing. This includes ensuring that your shoulders and your knees are covered at all times.
About the Author: Gayathri Ranganathan
Gayathri is an accomplished travel writer, who loves to travel with her family – her teenage girls and her husband. She feels that ‘traveling is the best way to open up one’s mind and heart to different cultures, foods, and lifestyles.’ When she’s not traveling, she’s dreaming about traveling or busy researching some new destination. “Over the years, I’ve discovered that in life and travel, it’s always about the journey, never about the destination.”
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