Wat Mongkolratanaram in Tampa, Florida

Wat Mongkolratanaram is a Thai Buddhist temple built in 1981 on the banks of the Palm River. The stunning Ayudhaya-style temple, peaceful gardens, and authentic Thai food draw some 10,000 visitors every week.

With roughly 700 residents of Thai origin, Tampa is home to the largest Thai community in Florida, so it’s fitting to find a Buddhist temple here. The resident monks perform sacred rituals and worship at the temple, and its grounds are open to the public daily.

Though Wat Tampa is a faith-based location that anyone can visit, some pretty influential people have graced its halls. In 2007, the king of Thailand visited the temple for a ceremonial Thot Kathin, a presentation of a simple orange robe to a high-deserving monk. According to temple sources at the time, it was the first honor of its kind in the United States.

On Sundays, a popular food market draws crowds to the temple grounds for authentic Thai dishes, like curries with rice, crab rangoon, noodle soups, and summer rolls.

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