MRT offering day tours to explore popular tourist sites

Wat Mangkon Kamalawat. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

Those who don't have time to travel outside the city can take advantage of the "Happy Journey BEM" project, which allows MRT commuters to explore popular tourist attractions and the culinary scene along the MRT line.

It's a collaboration between the Mass Rapid Transit Authority, Tourism Authority of Thailand and Bangkok Expressway and Metro to provide a series of free day trips with exclusive talks and creative workshops for MRT passengers, MRT Club members and students to promote tourism amid the new normal.

Available throughout the year, the project covers five routes around Wat Mangkon, Sanam Chai, Sam Yan, Hua Lamphong and Itsaraphap stations, with special guides to educate travellers about Thailand's history and cultural legacy.

On March 23, a walking tour will depart from Wat Mangkon station and take guests to three historical Chinese and Thai temples, as well as a Michelin-recommended restaurant, to trace the beginnings of Chinatown and savour true Chinese flair.

The first temple is Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, which was built in 1871 with funds granted by King Rama V and Chinese immigrants. It is now undergoing extensive renovation, but devotees can still light incense sticks to pray to the gods for good health, success, and peace.

Known for its Teochew-style architecture, the main hall is home to large statues of Gautama Buddha, Amitabha Buddha and Bhaisajyaguru Buddha with the Eighteen Arhats. On the other side, those born in the years of the monkey, pig and tiger can pray to Tai Sui, the God of Destiny, for protection.

Leng Buai Eia Shrine. (Photo: Karnjana Karnjanatawe)

Located in the heart of the old market, the Leng Buai Eia Shrine was erected in 1843 and underwent multiple restorations before the Teo Chew Association of Thailand spent 10 million baht renovating it as a tribute to the dragon god.

At the gate, a pair of two dragon pillars serve as a guardian and the roof is graced with two dragons capturing a crystal ball. Inside, the shrine houses statues of Leng Buai Eia, Guan Yu (God of War) and Tain Hou (Queen of Heaven).

It also houses an ancient bell from the Ming Dynasty, while pilgrims can ask the gods for wealth and good health.

Just a stone's throw away is Wat Kanmatuyaram. During the reign of King Rama IV, Klip Sakhonwasi donated her floral garden to construct the temple with an upside-down Sri Lankan-style bell-shaped chedi inspired by the Dhamek Stupa in India. Inside, its walls are covered with murals depicting Buddha's life.

Jok's Kitchen on Charoen Krung 21 serves a Chinese-Thai chef's table-style supper, bringing the voyage to a finale. Among the most popular dishes are shrimp wonton, deep-fried snow fish with soy sauce and stir-fried kale with salted halibut.

Find out more details on the MRT Bangkok Metro page on Facebook.

A dish from Jok's Kitchen. (Photo courtesy of Michelin Guide Bangkok)

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