Thai Culture: Birthday Merit Making

Merit making is also known as ‘tam boon‘ in Thai language. It is a Thai tradition, to give alms to monks, or to go to a temple on their birthday to pray. They will try to go on their actual birthday, or earlier.

D, a devoted Buddhist, always go to a local temple at Pad Riew (his dad’s hometown), at Chaceongsao province (located East of Bangkok), for birthday merit making.


Wat Sothon
This year is no exception. We drove to Wat Sothon Wararam Woraviharn (วัดโสธรวรารามวรวิหาร ), the largest and oldest temple at Chaceongsao. The temple is located about 80km east of Bangkok. The temple houses Luang Po Sathon, a revered Buddha image by the locals at this temple. Took us two hours of drive, as we were stuck in traffic on the street leading towards the temple.


Super crowded on a Sunday morning

Lit up joss sticks and candles
He usually tries to avoid weekend, but this year it was unavoidable. It was a mayhem, with huge throngs of worshippers at the temple!


General praying area


Main temple

Get your joss sticks, flowers, etc with 20 baht donation
There are two parts to the temple: a general prayer and offering area and a main temple area. If you would like to pray, a 20 baht ‘donation’ will give you some joss sticks, candle, flower and also some golden papers, to stick on the Buddha statue at the general prayer area. Donation is up to you, at the main temple area, and you’ll get flowers, to offer to Luang Po Sathon.


Boiled eggs for sale

Temple dancers at Wat Sothon
Other offerings include boiled eggs, and also Thai dance performance.


Cover up robes
This temple is authentically local, without the tourist crowds. Make sure you are dressed decently (cover your knees and shoulders), otherwise, make use of robe provided.

What irks me was the endless selfies at the temple. A religious place, to me, is a spiritual place .. NOT a place for selfies, when there are many others praying, and that needs to be respected. Perhaps I am old-school, but why do you need to take photos of yourself at a temple? Few photos, fine, but …of  you and yourself, or with your partner (sans other pertinent things), is this necessary?



Travel opens up a whole new world, which is cliche but true. I am a strong advocate for independent and solo travel. I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but now live in Bangkok, Thailand, resulted from a chance encounter in 2009 with my why-are-you-Thai bf. I am now split between two countries. One country for my bf, another for the family, for the occasional weekend together.