Golden Mount certainly is golden, but I hadn’t heard of the golden views of Bangkok and Thai Buddhism, which of course includes Thai monks, that come with it.
On my second evening in Bangkok, my tour guide for an evening with Thai food and traditional Thai dancing at Asiatique surprised me when she said that you only need three days for Bangkok.
“The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and ride a tuk-tuk…that’s Bangkok,” she said.
Even though I hadn’t been to Golden Mount yet, I was surprised that she didn’t mention it. I asked her about it, she hemmed and hawed before she nonchalantly added it to her brief list before moving on to the next bit of factual information about Bangkok.
Based on her unenthusiastic reaction, I almost didn’t go because after all, if a local tour guide didn’t think that a tourist ought to prioritize Golden Mount, I’d see and do other things first.
However, something was just screaming at me to make sure I see it, and I’m soooooo glad that I listened to my gut!
Four days later in the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, I made it there, and it was one of the highlights of my trip to Thailand. Golden Mount became my favourite temple in Thailand and overall, one of my top five temples.
However, of all the temples I’ve seen in Asia, Golden Mount has the best views – golden views – of Bangkok from the top.
I actually enjoyed it more than the dozens of skyscrapers I’ve visited because since you’re not so high up that it’s hard to make out the landmarks, you really get that I’m really in Bangkok feeling…the same way I felt on the Singapore Flyer and on the London Eye.
Don’t worry about getting up to the top for enjoy the views. Although there are hundreds of steps, there’s no need to worry. The steps aren’t steep at all; I’m short and I had no trouble skipping steps. 😀
There are plenty of interesting things to see on the way up to the great views that reward you at the top. The first major section of stairs, which is where the first picture of this post was taken, is surrounded with trees, plants, and flowers…I felt like I was climbing stairs in a jungle.
Other parts, like in the next photo below, have great views whether they’re of the city to your left or of the main structure on your right with the golden chedi/stupa on top.
You can still get good shots of it on the way up depending on how good the zoom is on your camera and of course, the sun’s position.
There are also breaks on the way up, my favourite feature being the bells being rung by Buddhist visitors.
There are more golden views once you go inside at the top.
Of all the temples I’ve visited in Thailand, this is one was definitely the most insightful when it comes to Thai Buddhist practices.
For instance, I was surprised to see people praying to several different Buddhas during their visit. A friend in Japan told me that you generally don’t go to more than one temple or shrine per day because you don’t want to make the gods angry.
It was the first time that I saw Buddhists offering flowers. I don’t know flowers well at all, but they were gorgeous and long-stemmed.
Parents made sure that their young children were sitting on their knees so that their feet were facing away from the Buddha.
Some people bought big plastic containers filled with food and supplies for monks. Others bought monks new sets of robes.
I don’t know if this is common practice or if this was done because it was New Year’s Eve, but as I was at the top, two monks leading a double-lined group of followers carrying a golden net-type of fabric to wrap around the red base of the golden spire smiled for the tourists’ cameras.
There were so many people crowding around the golden fabric so that they could hold it and walk with the rest of the group. They went around at least three times. Others were walking nearby either at the end of the long line or beside it somewhere with their hands together in prayer.
To get more golden views, I recommend going to Golden Mount by BTS and boat. If you manage to get a side seat, you’ll get to see how locals live along the river.
Something else that you’ll get to see, which certainly isn’t something that you see every day, is how you pay your 9 baht fare! 😀
Anyway, take the Sukhumvit Line to Ratchathewi. Exit the station and make your way to the Khlong Saen Saep Express Boat service at Saphan Hua Chang/Ratchaethewi Pier, which is on the south side of Hua Chang Bridge. It’s only 9 baht to get to Golden Mount, and you’ll pay as the boat’s chargin’ down the river.
I hope that you will enjoy all that Golden Mount has to offer. When I think of Golden Mount, golden views immediately come to mind along with the other aspects that became golden memories.