Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Traimit), Hua Lamphong Station, Chinatown
The Golden Buddha has been relocated to a more suitable and impressive new temple in the compound (in February 2010). See images of the new temple and some larger pictures, and a video impression of the compound. But we suggest you read the story of the Buddha Images first on this page.
See Location Map Golden Buddha image at Wat Traimit.
From the endpoint (Hua Lamphong Station) of the MRT subway line, one can easily access Hua Lamphong, Bangkok's main railway station, Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha) and Chinatown (Yaowarat).
The Golden Buddha (officially it seems to be named Golden Buddha Sukhothai Traimit) is housed in a small building in the rather nondescript, but old Wat Traimit. It is about 3 meters in height and weights an astonishing 5 tons (of gold).
Its history is not yet fully clarified. It may have been built during the late Sukhothai period or the Ayutthaya period. The - then still covered with plaster - Buddha image was moved to Bangkok (as many other Buddha Statues) during the third reign of the Rattanokosin era. It actually must mean (even though the Golden Buddha inside was unknown at the time) that this Buddha image had importance.
Horoscope 'Machines' close to the building housing the Golden Buddha. There is an image for each day of the week (corresponding actually, we assume, to the day of birth of the user). For a small donation, you can know your future destiny.
Its present condition (as being a Buddha image completely made of gold) was only revealed in 1955. While moving the heavy Buddha image around some plaster came off and the presently Golden Buddha became visible. Most likely the Golden Buddha was covered with stucco and plaster during a time of war or upheaval in a previous century, when it became a necessity to hide valuables.
The image is housed in a modest building (a new mondop is scheduled to te build pending donations), impressive and of course quite shining. It displays characteristics of the Sukhothai era, and the Buddha has the posture and gesture of Subduing Mara (Calling the Earth to Witness) which is very common in Thailand. This posture shows the Buddha with the right hand bent over the right knee, touching the earth with His fingers.
Head of Golden Buddha image, Wat Traimit, Bangkok
Hua Lamphong Railway Station is Bangkok's main train station. It was built before World War I with a neoclassical portico and large main hall inside covered with a vaulted iron roof.
Trains from here go to Northern, Northeastern, Southern Thailand, as well as to Kanchanaburi. Travel is comfortable, sleepers are available. But service is slow and even so-called express trains don't go faster than 70 km an hour on average.
Most public and private investment in transport facilities seems to be used to build highways. Some is used for mass transit systems (though hardly enough), and apparently almost none to upgrade the railway system.
You can see our video impression of Hua Lamphong railway station.
Hua Lamphong, Bangkok's main railway station.
Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha) is actually located at the beginning of Chinatown (Yaowarat and Phahurat). People of Chinese descent have been migrating to Thailand for centuries, coming in waves according mostly to prevailing economic conditions in mainland China. Roughly 10 % of the Thai population is of Chinese descent. Almost all Thai middle class families will have some Chinese relatives, and most of the business conglomerates in Thailand are run by Thai-Chinese owners.
It never really appealed to us, but you may wander around Chinatown and see Chinese food stalls and restaurants, traditional Chinese medicines and herbs, gold shops and the like. Chinatown is a very busy and congested area. As well as the area around Hua Lamphong Station and the Temple of the Golden Buddha, is seems to be heavily (and visibly) polluted, probably as a result of heavy car traffic.
This edifice (often featured in official ceremonies) seems to indicate the entrance to Chinatown in Bangkok. It is a few hundred meters from Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha). The text in the center tells us it was erected by the Chinese community in celebration of the 6th cycle (72nd birthday) of His Majesty the King.