Wat Saket, the Crowning Jewel of Bangkok
Religion and panoramic views are combined in the perfect sightseeing trip without leaving the city.
The glittering gold stupa of Wat Saket temple gazes serenely out over Bangkok. Perched on top of Phu Khao Hill it offers amazing views and is a center of pilgrimage for worshippers from across Thailand and beyond. Among the thousands of temples in Bangkok, Wat Saket truly stands out.
No trip to Bangkok would be complete without an ascent of the famous hill, so charge up your camera and read on for our top tips to make the most of your visit.
History of Wat Saket
The history of Wat Saket is a checkered one. King Rama III built a glorious chedi (temple) on the site in the late 1700’s, but the soft soil of Bangkok couldn’t support the weight and the building, along with its glory, slowly crumbled away. As nature reclaimed the brickwork the ruins gradually became first a smoothed mound and later a hill- this is the Phu Khao hill that the present-day temple sits upon.
King Rama V constructed his own chedi on the hill and imported Buddhist relics from India. Early in the 20th century this chedi was expanded into the temple that you see today, with a gleaming white marble base and a glistening gold stupa.
The Temple Compound
As you approach Wat Saket, the height of the stupa looms above you. The main structure rises 80 meters into the air and that’s in addition to the height of the hill. Bring your wide-angle lens! Before you start the climb up to the main building however, linger awhile in the first compound as there’s lots to see here.
The main ubosot or prayer hall is an impressive building and is almost always open to visitors. Next door is the temple’s Ho Trai or document library. If you’re lucky then you may meet some monks who are happy to talk about the functions of the various buildings and give you an insight into their routines and lives.
Climbing Up The Golden Mount
Once you’ve made the most of these initial buildings then it’s time to start climbing. Take your time, there are 318 steps and the ascent can really take it out of you in the heat of the day. There’s an opportunity to stop at some of the platforms on the way up the hill to catch your breath and examine some of the beautiful Buddhist prayer bells. Striking one creates a rich, vibrant tone that rings out across the city.
At the top you’ll find the main event- the stupa itself. Covered in gold and soaring into the sky it’s an impressive sight. Allow time to make a circuit round the base then buy a ticket to go inside and enjoy the beautiful interior, presided over by a gold Buddha. Outside you can relax and enjoy fabulous views of Bangkok in all directions.
How to Get to Wat Saket
Wat Saket is located on Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang, opposite Wat Ratchanadda. Unfortunately, public transport options are limited with no BTS or MRT stations nearby, but a Grab taxi or normal metered taxi will get you there just fine. If you want the driver to wait for you then remember to negotiate the fare in advance- you don’t want any nasty surprises at the end!
You can visit the temple from 8am until 5pm, and entry to the complex is free. Admission to the chedi is 10 baht which is a cheap price to pay to see the inside of this impressive monument.
Golden Mount Insider Tip
The temple is best visited just after the site opens at 8am. The climb is more bearable in the cooler mornings and the site is less crowded before the day tours turn up. Remember to wear clothes that cover your shoulders and knees when you visit, or pack a sarong to wrap around you when you arrive.