Wat Saket, Temple of the Golden Mount
Massive and gleaming, Wat Phu Khao Thong (or Temple of the Golden Mountain in Thai) was, some hundred years ago, the highest point in Bangkok. Its towering days are now over, but this steep, artificial hill—alongside the 58-meter chedi perched on its summit—residing within the Wat Saket compound remains a notable landmark and popular spot for many locals and tourists alike. Dating back to the Ayutthaya era, Wat Phu Khao Thong was constructed during the reign of King Rama IIII. However, the hill collapsed due to the soft soil beneath, and the temple was used as a burial site and stood neglected for many years until concrete embankments were added to the hill in the 1940’s.
On clear days, ascend the 318 spiraling steps to the top of the Golden Mount for panoramic views of the nearby famous sights such as the Democracy Monument and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Each November during the Loy Krathong festival, Wat Saket also plays host to a huge temple fair, which sees the entire premises beautifully decorated with illuminated lanterns and a candlelight procession up Phu Khao Thong.
(Image courtesy of Joerg Reichel; inset courtesy of Svein Michaelsen)