There was a time when all of the bowls used by Thai monks on their daily alms round were hand-made. Today, most of these alms bowls are mass-produced cheaply and quickly in factories elsewhere in Asia. But in Bangkok, one community is preserving the ancient craft of making alms bowls in the traditional way. The Ban Baat monk’s bowl community is a short walk away from the Golden Mount in one direction and Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing (Sao Ching Cha) in the other.
It can take a whole day for one of the artisans to produce just one large bowl. The steel rim of the bowl is first shaped into a circle on a wooden block. Two strips of steel are welded together in a cross-shape before being attached to the rim to form the frame. The cross-shape represents the four cardinal directions.
Once the frame is complete, the gaps are then filled with individual pieces of steel which are all welded to the existing frame with melted copper wire. The steel bowl is then hammered into shape before being polished and treated with a protective lacquer.
Bowls are available for purchase directly from the families that make them with prices starting from approximately 500 Baht. The working times are generally from 08.00-17.00 every day. A visit to the Ban Baat community can easily be combined with a trip to the nearby Golden Mount (Wat Saket) or Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing (Sao Ching Cha).
Map and directions
Ban Baat Community
71 Soi Ban Baat
There are no Skytrain or metro stations nearby, but if you’re confident enough to take the canal boat taxis this is a hand way to get to Ban Baat. On the Klong Saen Saeb route get off at Phan Fah Bridge (near Golden Mount) and walk approximately 10 minutes south. Alternatively, take a taxi from anywhere in Bangkok.