Bangkok City Guide -> Sightseeing -> Early Morning Tour

This tour ist best done in the early morning - or rather, if you want to see the Bintabaht(alms giving)  rite at Wat Benjamabophit (the "Marble Temple") you have no choice other than getting started at about 6.30 a.m.  Each morning at dawn,the  100.000 monks of Bangkok walk in their saffron robes barefoot and silent through the streets of Bangkok where the faithful wait and place rice, curries, or fruit in the monk`s black alms bowls (bahts). This rite provides the monks their only source of food, and the lay people gain merit to ensure a better incarnation in the next life. If you get up early enough, you are able to watch many interesting and touching scenes. Take a taxi to the temple and don`t forget to ask the concierge of your hotel write down for you in Thai script the words Wat Benjamabophit and Wat Si Saket (or Golden Mount).

Alms Giving
Alms Giving at Wat Benjamabophit

In the Marble Temple (Wat Benjamabophit, affectionately abbreviated to "Wat Benja"), this rite is slightly varied: the faithful bring the offerings to the monks who  wait in front of the temple. The alms giving starts around 6.30 and ends one hour later. (You may take photos, but do it tactfully). If you like to you can join the Thais and place offerings in the monk`s alms bowls, but use both hands, "wai" afterwards (the traditional thai greeting (raise both hands with the fingertips touching at the nose and bow the head sightly), and don`t expect the monk to thank you or to indicate that he is pleased - he is not allowed to do that.
When the alms giving is over walk past the two burmese stone lions that flank the entrance and enter the temple courtyard.  Wat Benjamabophit was ordered by King Chulalongkorn after his first visit to Europe (completed in 1900) and it is a classical Thai style building, but  made of Italian white Carrara marble. The contrast between the white marble and the golden roof ornaments lets this temple look especially elegant.  Inside the main hall is a replica of a famous Buddha image, and the back courtyard is surrounded by a gallery with 51 bronze Buddha statues. Turtles live in the canal that separates the temple from the monk`s quarters (gutis)-  in order to get a wish granted, Thais set animals, like birds, or turtles free - much the same way that Europeans or Americans throw a coin in a fountain. Take some time to wander around and enjoy the quiet early morning.

Wat Bejamabophit

The Marble Temple

After the visit to Wat Benjamabophit enjoy a full view of Bangkok from Wat Sakhet on Golden Mount (Phuo Khao Thong, go there by taxi, it is too far away for walking). Golden Mount is a 76 meters high artificial hill near the former city border of Bangkok that was under Rama V (King Chulalongkorn) crowned with a large golden Chedi. Every year in November, a large festival is held here. Although it is no longer the highest building in Bangkok, Golden Mount  still offers panoramic views of Bangkok and is pleasant to visit. The best time to come is in the early morning. Wat Sakhet,the temple at the foot of the hill, was ordered by King Rama I - it replaced the old temple where he performed the ritual purification ceremony before his coronation ("Sakhet" means "hairwash"). It is a nice Wat, the main attraction of Golden Mount, however, is the view from the top of the hill - and to get there you will have to climb between frangipani trees, urns, and crypts up the large staircase with more than 300 steps (now you know why it is best to come in the cool early morning!). On the upper terrace of the hill stands the large gilded Chedi which gave the hill its name. If you brought a map with you you can try to pick out Bangkok`s landmarks or otherwise just take some time and enjoy the view!
On the way back make a stop at temple downstairs - it has a Bot with well-preserved murals in the  and a Viharn that contains a large standing antique Buddha statue (called Phra Attarasa) from Sukothai, the ancient capital of Thailand.

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Last Updated 10.02.2008