Among all the 'wats' or Buddhist temples in Bangkok, Thailand the Temple of the Emerald Buddha on the grounds of the Grand Palace is the most well known, and is always packed with tourists from all over the world. However, the Golden Mount at Wat Saket which was built on a man-made hill during the Ayutthya period is definitely worth a visit. There is no entrance fee and it is not as crowded as the Emerald Buddha temple. I lived in Bangkok for five years and have been to Wat Saket many times, mainly to show my friends from overseas when they came to visit me during my tenure as a teacher in a school.

For most foreigners Wat Saket is known as the Golden Mount which is actually a 'chedi' or pagoda on the summit of the artificial hill. The gilded pagoda is 260 feet or 80 meters in height. It is believed that a relic of the Buddha was brought from India and placed in the chedi.

To reach it one has to climb up some 300 plus steps which is not that difficult as the path is well paved. As you approach the top you will see a row of bells at a landing between the flight of stairs. Take a pause to ring the bells, and view the city below from one of the steps. The best vista is from the peak itself where you can enjoy a spectacular panorama of Bangkok.

The temple compound feature many trees and typical Buddhist structures such as the main chapel, ordination hall and library. Although Wat Saket is not generally considered a notable temple in its own right, as most visitors come for the Golden Mount, it is interesting for its long history. And of course the Golden Mount itself, with its elaborate stairways, the great views of Thailand's capital city from the peak, the golden stupa with its Buddhist relics are indeed worth a visit during your trip to the 'City of Angels.'

The temple complex is open from 9am to 5pm, seven days a week. If you take a taxi, be sure to tell the driver 'Wat Saket' instead of Temple Mount. The location is:

Between Boriphat Road and Lan Luang Road, off Ratchadamnoen Avenue (near the Democracy Monument).