Wat Suthat is an important royal temple in Bangkok that is somewhat off the beaten track. It is probably more well known for the Giant Swing that sits on a traffic island at the temple entrance. Not so many foreign tourists venture inside the temple complex. The admission price for quite a few years has been a reasonable 20 Baht. Thais, regardless of whether they are Buddhists, Muslims or Christians, get to go in for free. Foreign tourists, even if they are Buddhists, have to pay to go in. Now comes the news that the abbot of this temple has decided to increase the admission price for foreigners by 400% to 100 Baht. Yes, this is still a reasonable price, but will you get your money’s worth? After all, the more impressive Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn) is 50 Baht and the equally impressive Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) is 100 Baht.
Wat Suthat is certainly stunning. The ordination hall is one of the largest in Thailand. The wall paintings on the inside are magnificent. So are the 156 Buddha images along the terrace. But, at the end of the day, it is just another temple. There are plenty of other temples in Bangkok that are worth a visit and don’t charge any admission fees. If I was you, I would probably just visit Wat Arun and Wat Pho and skip this temple. I have been here a few times by myself, but I have never brought any guests here. I certainly won’t now that they are charging 100 Baht per person. And I know for sure that some of the Thai tour guides will also skip this temple and do something else instead. They cannot pass the cost onto their clients and there is no way they would want to cover the 400% increase themselves.
What do you think? Another nail in the coffin for tourism in Bangkok? Or is it reasonable for the abbot to charge foreigners an admission price? I personally don’t think they should. And if they do, they shouldn’t be greedy and should rather ask for a voluntary donation. After all, monks are supposed to divorce themselves from worldly possessions which also forbids them from handling money. I still have a sour memory of visiting a small temple in Chiang Rai and having a monk shouting after me to come back and pay the admission fee. From what I saw, there wan’t anything special there and they were just being greedy. So, I left.
Thanks to Chili Paste Tour for bringing this to my attention.