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  1. #1
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    The Temple of the Reclining Buddha makes 500,000 Baht per day from foreigners




    One of the most popular pictures taken during President Obamas visit to Bangkok was this one where the President, Hillary Clinton and assistant abbot Phra Suthee Thammanuwat are seen sharing a joke. A lot of people have been asking what they were talking about to make them laugh like that. The answer is in this mornings edition of The Nation.


    Several people asked me what we were talking about when we were seen laughing, said Phra Suthee. At that moment, Clinton asked how many people visited the temple a day. I said that about 7,000 to 8,000 people visited and foreigners were charged Bt100 each. Clinton responded that the temple was making a lot of money and should be able to support Obamas work in helping poor children. I replied that the US president and his entourage should instead support the temple because the visit prompted half of the temple to be closed and caused the temple to lose money.


    This interestingly also gives an insight into the practice of charging to visit a place of worship. Most temples in Thailand are free and dont charge people an admission fee. Which I think is the right thing as I am sure the Buddha wouldnt be happy about it. However, a few temples that are popular with tourists charge them an admission fee. Most seem to be about 50 Baht. Looks like Wat Pho is the most expensive at 100 Baht.


    I have blogged before that I was once visiting a temple in Chiang Mai that was seemingly deserted. I like visiting temples as I am very interested in Buddhism. I even do a blog at www.ThaiBuddhist.com. While I was walking around I heard someone shouting at me. Then a novice monk came running to me with his hand stretched out. All he said was 50 Baht. The man that was shouting at me was a monk and he had sent the novice monk to get the admission fee from the foreigner.


    Thai people are not charged any admission fee for these temples. After all, they contribute in other ways by donating money for things like lotus flowers and incense sticks. I have actually tried a couple of times, out of interest, to see what they would say if I told them in Thai that I was a Buddhist. They just said that it doesnt matter. I am a foreigner and have to pay. So, what about Thais who are not Buddhists and go to Wat Pho as a tourist? Obviously they get in for free as admission is based on your nationality and not your religion.


    This now brings us to the question of how much money these temples are making from foreigners. According to Phra Udornkanarak who was quoted in The Nation last week, each day Wat Pho has about 10,000 visitors and half of them are foreigners. So, at an admission fee of 100 Baht per head for 5,000 people, it means they make 500,000 Baht a day! This is $16,302. In just one month they will make 15.5 million Baht ($505,379). And this is just from foreigners at one temple. Doesnt include the large donations that Thais make themselves to temples.


    So, where does the money go? And more importantly, do they pay tax on this income? Does anyone have any answers?

  2. #2
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    Re: The Temple of the Reclining Buddha makes 500,000 Baht per day from foreigners

    Buddha would be proud! Monks aren't even supposed to have money ...

    Most of what Thais practice as "Buddhism", is exactly what Buddha, himself, left behind. Most of the donations and merit making are remnants from the days when the king was considered a god. It made taking money from his subjects so much easier.


    Wat Phrakaew is actually the most expensive, 400 baht the last time I inquired. Thais are free.

  3. #3
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    Re: The Temple of the Reclining Buddha makes 500,000 Baht per day from foreigners

    I didn't add Emerald Buddha as the ticket includes Grand Palace and the Teak Mansion and the Coin Museum.

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    Re: The Temple of the Reclining Buddha makes 500,000 Baht per day from foreigners

    I think a donation box at the exit would bring many more donations from the heart. The visitor would leave with a sense of giving, rather than being taken from, and the resulting monetary amount just might be greater.

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    Re: The Temple of the Reclining Buddha makes 500,000 Baht per day from foreigners

    Quote Originally Posted by Susana View Post
    I think a donation box at the exit would bring many more donations from the heart. The visitor would leave with a sense of giving, rather than being taken from, and the resulting monetary amount just might be greater.
    They have tried that approach with cathedrals in the UK. The suggested contribution for my local cathedral is GB Pound 5-average contribution: one twenty fifth of that figure

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    Re: The Temple of the Reclining Buddha makes 500,000 Baht per day from foreigners

    It's my favourite temple to go to whenever I'm in BKK. N yes, this article leaves me wondering where does all the money go to?
    Sleep, little one, close your eyes, mother will sing you a lullaby... Sleep in a jewel cradle, sleep, mother will rock you.
    If you don't sleep the midges will go for your eyes and pollen will fall on the cradle....Sleep, close your eyes...
    - Isaan folksong, from "The Price of a Life" (Onkom, 1997)

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    Re: The Temple of the Reclining Buddha makes 500,000 Baht per day from foreigners

    The money that is donated goes to:
    - savings
    - renovating the temple
    - electricity/water/housing for the monks
    - actions to promote the religion
    - support for temple schools (building + expenses)
    - build new temples
    - support for less rich temple
    - donations for all kinds of humanitarian work

    Every temple has a bookkeeper, who is not a monk. The bookkeeper is elected. And they have a group of non-monks checking the bookkeeping.

    Like is is everywhere in Thailand, there's a chance that part of the money disappears via corruption.
    Most temples in central Thailand are very, very rich (and thus powerful).

    The monks are not supposed to keep the money, but most temples make a difference to money that is directly given to a monk (in a envelop) and a donation to the temple. The first kind of donation is usually kept by the monk. (Did you ever notice the huge increase in monk in Pantip plaza on Buddhist days?). Some monks give part of their income to their family.

    The bucket with gifts that people donate to the monks are in 80% of the cases sold again, without the monks opening them. Companies that buy these buckets, use the things inside to make new buckets (for the monks). The buckets contain little or no useful things for the temple. 95% of the flash-lights in those buckets don't work. The big tea, rise, coffee boxes have just a few grams of tea, rise or coffee in them (the boxes are as good as empty). The clothes in the buckets are made of uncomfortable plastic and are in children size. In other words : the pre-composed donation buckets contain 95% useless stuff. The temples get a bit profit from them by selling them again.
    thaileren.blogspot.com

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    Re: The Temple of the Reclining Buddha makes 500,000 Baht per day from foreigners

    USD 5.5 million a year - one temple

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    so happy! Re: The Temple of the Reclining Buddha makes 500,000 Baht per day from foreigners

    In my opinion a very sensitive item.

    As I increased visiting wats to make photos I was lots of times (very) disappointed concerning the point of "merit-making".

    A wat, for me (not religious), should be a sacred, nice place but..........

    The more a wat is "famous" the more (over)crowded and "attractive" for merit-makers the more "business" shows up in the form of loads of donation-boxes, market-stalls - even complete markets at the temple-compound, "attractions" like plastic skeletons wai-ing when one makes a "donation", ATM-machines at the entrance of the sala, you name it.

    Of the more than 75 wats I visited in the mean time there are very view which I like to visit again and they are mostly the "less interesting".

    Where the money goes? A very interesting and deep-going question..............


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