Golden Mount & Wat Saket

Top choice buddhist temple in Banglamphu

Even if you're wát-ed out, you should tackle the brisk ascent to the Golden Mount (Phu Khao Thong). Serpentine steps wind through an artificial hill shaded by gnarled trees, and past graves and pictures of wealthy benefactors. At the peak, you'll find a breezy 360-degree view of Bangkok's most photogenic side.

Next door, seemingly peaceful Wat Saket contains murals that are among both the most beautiful and the goriest in the country; proceed to the pillar behind the Buddha statue for explicit depictions of Buddhist hell.

The hill itself was created when a large stupa, under construction by Rama III (King Phranangklao; r 1824–51), collapsed because the soft soil beneath would not support it. The resulting mud-and-brick hill was left to sprout weeds until Rama IV (King Monkut; r 1851–68) built a small stupa on its crest. Rama V (King Chulalongkorn; r 1868–1910) later added to the structure and housed a Buddha relic from India (given to him by the British government) in the stupa. The concrete walls were added during WWII to prevent the hill from eroding.

In November there’s a festival in the grounds that includes an enchanting candlelight procession up the Golden Mount.