Bangkok is largely known throughout the world as primarily a Buddhist city and that should come as no surprise to anyone. The city is chock-full of opulent temples serving all sects of Buddhism and its populace are devoted practitioners of the religion. While Thailand does not formally recognize a state religion, it does tie Buddhism closely to Thai traditions. The dominance of one religion often makes one forget that religious diversity can still exist. As such, many travelers are pleasantly surprised by the existence of the Bangkok Protestant Cemetery, one that dates back all the way to 1853.
During the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV), Bangkok was still a fledgling city and a frontier for many European nations. As the Protestant community grew, the need for a proper burial space for their dead also increased. The community addressed this issue by seeking permission from the Portuguese to use the Catholic cemetery. Eventually, Bangkok’s Protestants petitioned the king for a cemetery of their own and the request was granted on 29 July 1853.
Today, the cemetery is a testament to the intertwined history of Bangkok and Europe. Many pioneers that include doctors, missionaries and others who were early influences of Siam have their resting places here. A walk through the cemetery is eye-opening for visitors and serves as a reminder that one of the reasons Thailand is the way it is today is due to its openness to globetrotters in its early days. Read up prior to a visit and look out for several key historical figures such as Admiral Sir John Bush, Dr. Daniel Beach Bradley, and Henry Alabaster.