Once summer comes around, the travel and adventure bugs always seem to bite us. A trip abroad to Thailand would run you about $1100 right now out of Tampa, but you can satisfy your wanderlust without ever leaving the Sunshine State. There's a hidden Thai temple that will make you feel like you're magically overseas - and you can get the best Thai food there on Sundays.
Wat Mongkolratanaram Buddhist Temple is hidden away right on the Palm River in Tampa, Florida. Nestled amongst a surround of trees, this stunning sacred location is one of the largest Buddhist Temples in the whole state. With colorful and ornate architecture amongst a stark white building, you'll feel like you somehow stepped off the streets of Tampa and into an awe-inspiring Asian country in the blink of an eye.
You can meander the gorgeous grounds and admire stunning structures during your visit almost any day of the week, but the real treat comes in the form of their Sunday Market.
Every Sunday from 8:30 am - 1 pm they hold their Sunday Market. You'll want to sharpen up your chop-stick skills to truly indulge in authentic Thai treats such as grilled pork or chicken on a stick, "Phat Thai" (a veggie-noodle soup), various curry dishes, "Guiteow" (a beef or pork noodle soup), and they even have a variety of Thai desserts. The most popular bites are the Phat Tai and Guiteow soups that look dazzlingly delicious.
You'll want to show up before 12:30 pm to make sure you can try the dish you're most excited about. The temple doesn't accept credit or debit cards, so don't forget to pull out some cash so you can get some goodies.
If you've ever wanted to immerse yourself in another culture, every Sunday at 1 pm you can actually observe a religious ceremony at the Buddhist Temple - conducted all in the Pali language. The ceremony consists of chanting, sermon, and meditation which is sure to be an enlightening and unique experience. Chairs are available to those who have difficulty sitting on the floor and their website lists expected etiquette for entering the temple, such as removing your shoes and dressing respectfully.
And if you've ever been curious about Buddhism, they hold a Q & A session from 11:30 am - 12:45 pm inside of temple - perfect for truly curating a robust understanding of culture. You can visit this stunning slice of Asia Tuesday through Sunday 9 am - 4 pm, with the Sunday Market running from 8:30 am - 1 pm. The Wat Thai Temple is located at 5306 Palm River Rd, Tampa, FL 33619.
For more information about Wat Mongkolratanaram Buddhist Temple, or to see the full Sunday Market menu and the entire breakdown of temple etiquette, check their website here.