A visit to Bangkok’s Chinatown is not complete without exploration of Wat Mangkon Kamalawat. The “Dragon Lotus” temple, considered to be the largest and most important Chinese house of worship in all of Bangkok, sits in the heart of Chinatown and is busy all year round with the devout stopping by with offerings and prayers.
Opened as Wat Leng Noei Yi in the 1870s, the temple served as an introduction of Mahayana Buddhism in Bangkok. King Chulalongkorn later renamed it to its present title. The temple is decorated with plenty of animal, floral and Chinese dragon motifs. The ordination hall houses the temples gold colored Buddha. As you discover its the reverent sermon halls, take note of the collections of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian shrines. Here, worshippers light incense continuously. They fill the eternally burning altar lamps with oil in hopes of keeping the “fire” of the present life going and gaining a smooth journey into the afterlife.
The temple plays host to several significant Chinese events throughout the year. If you should be so lucky to be present in Bangkok during these events, a stop at the temple is well worth your time. During Chinese New Year, the temple is hotspot of activities where all of Bangkok’s Chinese population seems to suddenly converge. In October, the Chinese Vegetarian Festival is in full swing and temporary stalls are set up in the temple to encourage consumption of vegetarian dishes.