Bangkok, Thailand – It all seemed easy enough. “Just ride the bus #15,” the male receptionist at Mile Map Hostel said. Turned out, it wouldn’t be that easy taking the local bus to the Golden Mount inside Wat Saket compound. Maybe because I always get mistaken as a local and they refuse or can’t talk to me in English, or maybe because it really was the wrong bus.
With the sun already at its highest point in the day, I sat under the shade of the small bus stop along Silom road. The presence of foreigners waiting was nonexistent, except for me, who did not look like the typical foreigner. To them, I looked like a local.
Sweating and frustrated from my 2 previous wrong #15 bus rides (very brief ones at that), I was adamant to finally get on the correct bus the third time around. So I shyly asked a young lady in office attire sitting beside me if she was waiting for bus #15. Thank heavens she was. And I proceeded to tell her that I’m going to Wat Saket. I must have pronounced it wrong for it took a few tries before she finally understood me. One syllable in Thai can be pronounced in different intonations and can mean different things.
And when the bus finally came, she told me to sit with her and even told the conductor on my behalf where I wanted to go down. She even paid for my bus fare! Thank you, good Samaritan! Third time’s the charm, indeed!
Golden Mount at Wat Saket
After getting off the bus, I only walked a few meters to get to the entrance of the Golden Mount. A 20 baht entrance fee (2015) was required for tourists. Although previous blog posts I’ve read said that this was one of the free places to go in Bangkok.
At the bottom, there are information boards, and the ticket booth, with frangipani trees and undergrowth going around the base of the mount. Going up the 318 steps spiral staircase was easy enough even for me who has a bad case of jelly legs. The steps were wide and the space between them isn’t that tall enough. Watching the devotees as I go up, I notice that they rang the bells one by one and the giant gong three times after saying their prayers and wishes. You can also ring these bells for good luck.
Offerings and prayers are given on the different statues of Buddha present on the temple floor beneath the golden chedi. Small kiosks offering refreshments are also present. I couldn’t resist buying an ice cream and eating it while gazing at the bird’s eye view of Bangkok.
At the center is the shrine holding the Buddha relic. A narrow staircase in the right corner leading up to the gilded chedi can be claustrophobic but only for a very brief time. Finally reaching the top makes it all worth it though. With the heat of the sun notwithstanding, you’ll be amazed at how tall and golden the chedi is, how the devotees do their rituals and traditions, and the 360 degrees Bangkok skyline. Plus there’s free Wi-Fi too! Odd but very cool indeed.
The viewpoint offers a vantage point to see tourist sites such as the Rama VIII bridge, Grand Palace, and Democracy Monument. Standing 77 meters tall, The Golden Mount was built during the reign of King Rama III to King Rama V.
I took the same bus going back to Silom Road and found out that it was free! Too bad for the traffic and crowding inside the bus though, and it reminded me of Manila. Foreigners walking past were either appalled or amazed but for Asians residing in developing countries, this is old news.
Here’s a short video of my visit to the Golden Mount at Wat Saket, Bangkok, Thailand:
Quick Guide to Golden Mount and Wat Saket
Opening hours: 0800 H to 1800H
Address: Khlong Maha Nak Subdistrict, Pom Prap Sattru Phai District, Bangkok
Entrance Fee: 20 THB for foreigners
Dress Code: Dress modestly, meaning cover your shoulders and cover until below your knees. And act respectfully.
How to get to Golden Mount and Wat Saket: SkyTrain to Ratchathewi Station (N1) (Sukhumvit Line). Take Exit 1 and upon exiting turn around and walk straight ahead 200 m. to Khlong Saen Seab. Catch a long tail boat from pier directly to Phan Fha Pier at Wat Saket. Or from the Grand Palace or Wat Suthat, take public transport to the corner of Maha Chai and Ratchadamnern Klang Rd. (Source: Travel Information and Travel Facilities, the Tourism Authority of Thailand)
Have you been to the Golden Mount?
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