What is Loy Krathong?
Loy Krathong is a festival in Thailand celebrated every year during the full moon in November. It’s one of the most popular and famous celebrations in Thailand along with Songkhran; People from all over the country journey to their nearest river, lake or pond, to float their own individual ‘krathongs’ to pay respect to the water spirits. The Loy Krathong celebrations symbolize letting go of one’s hatred, anger and sins. You’ll find krathong floats for sale everywhere during the evening on Loy Krathong day from just 10 baht per float.
Golden Mount Temple Fair
During the day in Bangkok, a good place to witness some of the Loy Krathong celebrations before taking to the waterways, is the Golden Mount, also know as Wat Saket. At the Golden Mount grounds, the locals hold a lively temple fair with numerous bustling stalls, children’s fairground rides, and offerings to the Buddha in the temple.
The temple fair at Golden Mount is great for sampling all the Thai food and snacks; shopping at the clothes stalls and knick knack stalls; or winning prizes on the various shooting games and darts games – There’s even a ferris wheel too. Some of the stalls have some pretty weird food for sale at the temple fair if you’re feeling brave: fried insects and frogs on sticks – quite unusual snacks even for Thailand.
Offerings to the Buddha at Golden Mount
Golden Mount gets really busy during the Loy Krathong festivities, so it’s best to be prepared for some big crowds during your climb up the temple stairs. Before you enter, you need to make a 20 baht donation at the stall at the bottom of the stairs. In exchange for this, you’ll be given a flower and some incense to offer at the temple. The stairs up to the Golden Mount are long and winding – and freakin’ hot – but they offer some amazing views over the Old City of Bangkok.
Watching the local Thais serenely ringing the huge bells during the walk to the top of the temple makes for an interesting journey. Once you get to the first room, you need to make your offering of the flower and incense to the Buddha statues whilst kneeling and praying. There’s a small piece of paper which has been tied to the flower – you need to keep hold of this and take it to one of the next rooms. Here, you can open it up, peel away a tiny little gold sticker, and stick it on the golden covered buddha.
For such a holy day, Wat Saket Temple doesn’t come across as particularly spiritual. Inside the temple, Temple goers seem herded through the connecting rooms which, by the way, have way too many souvenir shops. I know right, wtf? Souvenir shops inside a temple?
I suppose it’s not uncommon for a Bangkok temple, but the atmosphere is a little too commercial and busy for my liking – if you’re expecting a spiritual and peaceful experience, you may be disappointed. It’s not all bad though, at the very top of the temple there is a beautiful golden Chedi draped with red cloth and windswept flags. Even with the hordes of people queueing to snap photos, it’s a beautiful sight and there are breathtaking views over the city which are worth seeing.
How to get to Wat Saket Golden Mount
If you happen to be staying near Khaosan road or the Banglamphu area of Bangkok then Wat Saket Golden Mount can be easily reached on foot. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or canal boat – perhaps the canal boat might provide a more scenic route. If taking the canal boat, look out for the stop called ‘Phan Faa’ and get off there. If taking a taxi, most drivers should know it if you mention ‘Wat Saket’.