Wat Mahathat is a fairly large and busy temple complex located adjacent to the circular-shaped lawn of Sanam Luang and the nearby Grand Palace complex in Bangkok. The buildings here may not hold any particular architectural features of great interest, as it’s more notable for its bustling ambience than its structures.
It does, however, provide you with some welcome light respite from the heat and buzz of tourists in the area. The grounds are open daily from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm and admission here is free. And if you’re here over the weekend you’ll find several stalls selling a variety of goods.
What the complex does offer is the perfect opportunity for you to engage with the monks studying at the Maha Chulalongkorn Buddhist University located within the Wat. This is your chance to teach a little English as the friendly monks here are keen to practice the language and are even more likely to approach you first. Football is their favourite subject so if you’re a fan, so much the better.
Vipassana Meditation Centre
The temple here also houses the Vipassana Meditation Centre where you can attend classes practicing both sitting and standing meditations. Classes are available in English with the first one commencing at 7:00 am until 10:00 am. There are two more classes from 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm respectively.
There are a few simple rules to adhere to. One is a request for a small donation another is that you will be required to wear only white attire during the proceedings (available to rent at the centre) and to observe five basic Buddhist precepts.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Buddhist Precepts, I shall attempt to explicate. A devout layperson is expected to adhere to at least the basic of these precepts of which there are five. They are, I shall not kill, I shall not steal, I shall refrain from incorrect speech as in gossip, lies and abuse, I shall refrain from sexual misconduct and I shall abstain from intoxicating liquor and drugs.
There are three other precepts needed to be adhered to on special holy days for Buddhist laypeople and foreign students who study meditation at Thai Temples.
These are, no eating after noon, no entertainment and no sleeping on soft beds. That means you can’t watch TV or listen to music either. As far as the no sexual misconduct precept is concerned, that means – no sex at all. I’m sorry about that guys!