Admission price for foreign tourists to Wat Suthat increased by 400%

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.

32 thoughts on “Admission price for foreign tourists to Wat Suthat increased by 400%

  • December 2, 2017 at 7:27 am
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    Probably because of the Chinese Invasion.

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  • December 2, 2017 at 10:12 am
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    The 100 Bt entry for ferangs probably isn’t unreasonable.. When my Thai family go to a temple they always put money in the donation boxes and often buy gift boxes and robes to donate.. depending on the occasion. I doubt that foreign visitors put much in the donation boxes.. 100 Bt isn’t much out of a tourist’s pocket to visit these beautiful temples..

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    • December 2, 2017 at 10:13 am
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      What do you think the Lord Buddha would say about that if he was alive today?

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      • December 2, 2017 at 4:12 pm
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        He would say: “Do good, avoid evil, and purify the mind.”

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  • December 2, 2017 at 10:20 am
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    Double pricing is unfair. It is common in Thailand. I know it is also used in other countries, but this does not make it any better. It only makes it worse!

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    • December 2, 2017 at 10:38 am
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      In this case it’s not double pricing. People who look Thai get in for free, regardless of their religion.

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      • December 2, 2017 at 10:52 am
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        Double pricing does not mean that one group must two times what others have to pay. It simply means that there are two rules: one for the locals and one for the foreigners.

        A person is a person. There should be only one rule for all. Do not charge visitors because of their nationality.

        Do not say that foreigners can afford to pay. This concept (ability to pay) is not relevant. Maybe some foreigners can afford to pay, but so can some Thais. Some Thais are millionaires, but they do not have to pay at all, because they are Thais – even though they can afford to pay.

        Double pricing is not fair. Places where this unfair system is used should be avoided.

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      • December 3, 2017 at 11:54 am
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        How would you know what religion a Thai is by looking at them unless they display some religious ornamentation?

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        • December 3, 2017 at 12:56 pm
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          Well, Muslims are often very recognizable by their clothing. In addition, physical attributes are often different too. I live in a Muslim community.

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          • December 3, 2017 at 1:30 pm
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            The price you have to pay to enter a temple or a museum should not be determined by nationality or religion. These factors are not relevant. A person is a person. Everybody should pay the same price.

  • December 2, 2017 at 10:40 am
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    It cost a lot to visit Westminster Abbey unless you attend mass. Then you get the rude people who attend mass for 10 minuets just to get in free. Then walk out.
    If you are visiting as a tourist then you should have to pay a small amount $2 or 60 baht seems fair. If you are there to worship, then you are giving so much more!

    I’m currently in Chiang Mai with my 85 year old Thai Buddhist grandmother. It’s costing me a ton! She has to give an offering everywhere. For the flowers, the candles, the water blessings, feeding every monk, every box we pass, every woman begging on the street… Being a good Buddhist is expensive!!!!

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  • December 2, 2017 at 10:43 am
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    I don’t mind the nominal fee, THB20 here and there, though you’re right that in this case they’ve over-inflated the entrance fee. I was going to visit with three friends in February, now we’ll skip it – so instead of getting THB80 the temple will get THB0…

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    • December 2, 2017 at 10:56 am
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      Double pricing (overcharging foreigners) will often drive visitors sway. Double pricing is unfair and in addition it is a bad business policy. It cannot be justified.

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  • December 2, 2017 at 10:58 am
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    Temples need funds for wear & tear upkeep as well. While 400% sounds sensational, Baht 100 is not unreasonable for tourists. Entrance fees for cultural & touristic sites in Western countries are much higher. I may be wrong on this. Inevitably, tourists will vote with their feet.

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    • December 2, 2017 at 11:05 am
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      I agree that temples need economic support for maintenance. But if they want visitors to pay, they should charge everyone the same price.

      Thais may enter for free, whether they are Buddhists or not, whether they come to pray or just to look at the place.

      This is not fair. Visitors should feel that they are treated in a fair way. If not, they will never come back and they will tell their family and friends to stay away. This is why double pricing is a bad business policy.

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    • December 2, 2017 at 5:28 pm
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      Some of the bigger temples make over a million Baht a day. Do they really need that much money? Yes, they could (and often do) build bigger and more beautiful temple buildings and statues, but what would the Lord Buddha say about this? Would he approve?

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      • December 2, 2017 at 5:37 pm
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        OK krub. I take your point. People will vote with their feet. I imagine that Lord Buddha does not support commercialization of religion. As for me, I will probably pay my respects outside the wall 555.

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    • February 10, 2018 at 8:15 pm
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      I disagree. If you go to church in a western country, you do not have to pay at all! This was my last visit in this temple.

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  • December 2, 2017 at 12:05 pm
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    Ah well…still relatively reasonable compared to places in Indonesia like Borobudur and Prambanan which are quite small and cost 20 dollars to visit😂

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  • December 2, 2017 at 2:47 pm
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    I was there earlier this year and felt it was barely what they were charging then

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  • December 2, 2017 at 3:03 pm
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    Something else to remember is that the Giant Swing outside the temple is under renovation for the next year or so also, so another reason for tourists to not visit the area. But then again, is n’t it Thai business logic to increase prices when without customers to try and make up the lost cash turnover ? Maybe that’s why the abbot put up the price !

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  • December 2, 2017 at 3:12 pm
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    I work at a temple close to Wat Suthat that has recently taken to charging a 50 baht admission fee. What I notice is that when a Thai comes to the temple he, or she, always drops a little something into one, or more, of the donation boxes scattered about. It is customary to do so and helps to support the upkeep of the temple and it’s grounds. Tourists, on the other hand, would not understand this small cultural difference and would wander about, use the toilet, drop a piece of trash here or there and go about their merry way. I don’t feel this is an imposition on tourists as the fee is relatively minor compared to the billions of baht they, supposedly, spend during their brief stays in the Kingdom.

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  • December 2, 2017 at 4:25 pm
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    There was a lot of controversy here in Chiang Mai when they began charging tourists at Wat Chedi Luang. Most of the monks that I spoke to oppose this admission charge, arguing that the temple is open to all. But the officials at the Wat Chedi Luang point to the dramatic increase in maintenance costs due to the dramatic increase in tourists. The cost is 40 baht. After Wat Chedi Luang began to charge, Wat Suan Dok followed suit and is now charging 20 baht to enter the viharn.

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  • December 2, 2017 at 4:41 pm
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    “Are Buddhist monks getting greedy…”

    Seem like it, compared to previous 20 baht admission fee; not that it’s relative expensive in Western view, but in principle.

    I always says to my friends, when taking them around to selected temples, that they shall bring some 20-baht and/or 50-notes, and compensate their visit by putting a note in a collection box, or buying a stone for temple expansion, or get a monk’s blessing for 100 bath each.

    Charging an entrance fee may stop other support from foreign visitors, especially when the fee (too) seem high, and may even have some visitors to skip that particular temple…🤔

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  • December 2, 2017 at 4:59 pm
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    It is not about the price. It is about the principle. The decision to charge one group (foreigners) more than another (the locals) is wrong.

    Some people try to justify the double pricing by referring to tax. This does not help.

    Thais and foreigners pay VAT which is a tax. No difference here.

    It is true that foreign tourists do not pay income tax in Thailand, but what about the Thais? More than 50 per cent of Thai citizens do not pay income tax.

    Charging foreigners more than the locals will drive foreign customers away. In addition it will create resentment among the foreigners who are forced to pay extra.

    That is why double pricing is not only unfair but also bad for business. It is a shame the Thais do not understand this point.

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  • December 2, 2017 at 11:25 pm
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    Double procing makes it easy to avoid places like temples and national parks.
    I thai people would be charged a five times higher price for something in Germany they would complain, too.
    Fairness is different.

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  • December 3, 2017 at 9:11 am
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    I don’t think this is all about “get the farangs money” alone. I think that things in Thailand are getting progressively more expensive, and the only way to continue to subsidize the Thai populace who live in a perpetual state of low income (and low taxation) is to enact double pricing in many situations/instances. This way Thais can access these situations/instances and feel “special” (preserving “Thainess”), and the perpetrators can also reap an extra financial intake. Remembering that Thai culture has no place for non-Thais except in very limited circumstances, can provide reason to expect exclusivity, and a reason to continue to “other” non-Thais.

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  • December 5, 2017 at 12:05 am
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    I once got into Wat Suthat for free after sunset and only when leaving noticed that there was an entrance fee at all. I was very surprised to be honest. It’s a nice temple with a long history, but nothing special.

    Wat Mahathat also charges 100 Baht afaik and is just as unspectacular as Wat Suthat.

    The Golden Mount inside Wat Saket on the other hand charges 30 baht and is much more impressive than Wat Suthat or Wat Mahathat. I don’t think temples should charge entrance fees at all…

    Btw, Wat Arun entrance fee is 100 Baht not 50 Baht and has been for years.

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    • December 5, 2017 at 5:20 am
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      Thanks for your comments. Wat Arun is definitely 50 Baht. I went there the other week.

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  • December 6, 2017 at 3:07 pm
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    It doesn’t matter how much a temple charges guys, its a sin to charge money. So whether you agree you think a 10, 20 or 100THB fee is reasonable, its irrelevant. All temples should be free because the Buddha was begged to teach others how to reach Nirvana and he grudgingly did so. Temples are the story of his life and place to pay respect. They are not a product or service and to treat it like so, i.e. a sightseeing place, is to disrespect the buddhist bible (the dhamma). Any money should be based on donation. This is why you cannot be charged to learn Vipassana Meditation – its a “sin” in Buddhism. The tourism industry has commodified (i can’t spell) Buddhism which is a “sin” too. All temples should be free and in the unpopular areas of Thailand, they are. Let’s hope that Thailand doesn’t become as greedy as Bali. 1500THB for a van ride to go 40 kms. Bullshit!

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  • January 15, 2018 at 10:16 am
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    Side entrance is still wide open…. i rather drop a couple of 20B notes in the collection box, but like to make my own decision how much

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