Memorial Hall, Wat Dhammakaya
Rangsit (รังสิต) is in Pathum Thani Province, Thailand, 40 kilometers north of Bangkok.
Effectively a suburb of Bangkok, Rangsit is directly north from Bangkok on Thanon Phahonyothin, 20 kilometers from Don Muang Airport.
Local buses 29, 34, 39, 59, 95, 504, 510 and 522 will get you from Bangkok to Rangsit Future Park (5 baht in the basic non-aircon buses, 18-22 baht for aircon). You can catch most of these from the bus stop next to BTS Mo Chit station. The journey takes 30-60 minutes depending on the traffic and bus (the orange 5xx services are faster).
Nearly all central, north and northeast-bound long-distance buses stop next to Rangsit Future Park on their way in or out of the city, and often almost half the bus gets off. And with reason: it's still another hour from here to the city, so this is an excellent place to hop out, stretch your legs and get a decent meal.
A taxi to central Bangkok will cost at least 300 baht. As this is outside Bangkok proper, you'll probably need to negotiate a flat rate.
Within the Meditation Amphitheatre
- Wat Phra Dhammakaya, . Humongous hypermodern temple home to the controversial Dhammakaya (Thammakai)
cult sect. The size of the complex can hardly be overstated: crowds on special events can number in the hundreds of thousands, and the unreal scale of everything makes it appear like a science fiction movie set built by Albert Speer. As you enter, you'll first see the golden dome of the Memorial Hall of the sect's founder, Phramonkolthepmuni. Behind it lies the aircraft-hangar-sized Meditation Hall, and once you've walked through it (which takes a solid 15 minutes of hiking!) you'll spot the main event, the stupendous Maha Dhammakaya Cetiya. This is a golden UFO-shaped chedi covered with "one million" (in reality a mere 300,000) of golden Buddhas, in the center of a massive square and surrounded by the concrete platform of the Meditation Amphitheatre (scheduled for completion in 2006). There are free shuttle services from Victory Monument and Sanam Luang in Bangkok starting 7 AM on Sundays only; otherwise, find the elusive shuttle bus 1008 from Rangsit market, or just take a taxi from Future Park (80-100B one way). The temple is free to all and open daily, but devotees gather the first Sunday of each month and there are English-language meditation retreats several times a year. Dress decently (women must cover shoulders and legs) and try to pick a cloudy or cool day because there's a lot of walking to be done.
||WARNING: Thais who are outside of the Dhammakaya sect (i.e. normal Buddhists) consider this sect a cult. It is accused of brainwashing its follower and taking their money, not unlike the Church of Scientology. The sect was extensively investigated by the government in 1999. Proceed at your on risk.
- Future Park Rangsit. Thanon Phahonyothin, . In Rangsit, the future seems to mean huge shopping malls. Here you can find Robinson and Central department stores, Big C and TOPS hypermarkets, an EGV cinema, Office Depot and HomePro outlets and much more, all packed tightly together. Unfortunately the spiffy monorail that is supposed to connect them all hasn't been running in a while.
Eat & Drink
- Future Park has countless eating options.
- Asian Institute of Technology. Km 42, Thanon Phahonyothin, . Thailand's equivalent of MIT has its main campus in Rangsit, 6 km north of Future Park. Get there on buses 29 and 39.