Traveling thorough Southeast Asia you will find a mix of religions, but the two most prevalent are Buddhism and Islam. Last year when we traveled to Hong Kong after a beautiful birthday in the Maldives we soaked up some of the Buddhist culture.
One afternoon Mallory saw a picture from one of her friends here in the Tampa area looking like she was over in Southeast Asia! We ended up finding out Tampa has its own little piece of Southeast Asia, and Buddhist culture at Wat Mongkolratanaram.
The Buddhist Temple and market is open every Sunday from 8:30AM to 2:30PM. You are able to mingle with monks, try some delicious Thai food, and shop for flowers, fruits and vegetables. Wat Mongkolratanaram is located just 5 miles east of downtown Tampa, and is easily accessbile to the Selmon Expressway, US 41, and US 301. The Campus the Temple is on is a beautiful plot of land right on the Palm River, making it accessible by boat too!
The food was set up similar to Singapore’s hawkers stands. There were 6-8 stands each one serving something different. We opted for curry and pad Thai. I was hoping mine would have a little more spice, but it was still delicious. There are plenty of picnic tables overlooking the Palm River, so you have a beautiful landscape to look at as you eat the delicious food. Portions were huge, and neither of us were able to finish all of the food we were given.
The flower market brought me back to Singapore when I went through the two huge flower domes at the Gardens by the Bay. There were so many beautiful orchids and other flower that if we had brought more cash with us we definitely would have ended up taking some home!
Wat Mongkolratanaram is a great way to spend an afternoon in the Tampa Area. You can have some wonderful Thai food, take in the Buddhist culture and spend some time outside in Tampa’s plentiful sunshine! One thing to note, the Sunday Market at Wat Mongkolratanaram is cash only, so make sure you stop by an ATM before visiting! The temple holds events throughout the year, so check out their website to see when the next festival will be!