Posted by: Orlick | April 12, 2010

Songkran at Elmhurst Thai Wat Buddha Temple – All Access Pass

I went to the Songkran Festival at Wat Buddha Temple in Elmhurst (76-16 46th Ave) this weekend. We got there around 10am when the festivities were just starting. They had the offerings for the monks in the beginning, where everyone lines up with bowls of rice and other gifts and they shovel it into the monk’s basins.
The side and rear of the temple were filled with ways to help the temple and ways to pay their respects. They had a raffle, bowls where you put money in the one representing the day you were born, incense burning, a huge buddha in the back with people taking pictures in front of it, and a black buddha where people were applying gold paper to it then sometimes putting it onto each other.

I got a little bored of standing around, so I offered to help with the kitchen. They took me in and I was to bring out food to the tables in front. This allowed me to take pictures of the most amazing array of Thai dishes ever to hit Queens. These dishes were first to be given to the monks, then only when they were finished could the public eat. You could hear a collective stomach growl in the crowd. Soon, people took the dishes to the street where is was an incredible feeding frenzy. Lines and lines (not too long) and everyone was happy with the feast. There were 3 main tables of food, each with different dishes to choose from. It was impossible to gauge the choices of food from the street among all the people.

Last year I went to the Royal Kathin Festival, and this spring this temple continues to be my favorite place to experience eating Thai food. When I visited last weekend on a normal Sunday, the food had an excellent balance, nothing other than the larb being too spicy for a normal American. This time there were some spicy dishes, but nothing outlandish. Some people might prefer an edgier food, but I love the home-style food of festivals like this.

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Bringing the food up to the monks

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Contest where everyone put stickers on their favorite girl

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My complete photo set with pics inside the kitchen
My trip inside the temple including the green buddha atop the building
My 2009 Royal Kathin wrap-up
Thai Buddhist Temple on



  1. Great post, Jeffrey. I definitely want to go to one of these. Those photos of tables groaning with Thai dishes show my idea of heaven.

  2. Fantastic. In my student days, I used to enjoy visiting the Thai temple in Berkeley, CA for amazing home-cooked food. But this is on an even grander scale. Thanks for exploring and sharing this!

  3. Excellent post, Jeff. Thanks for sharing your experience at the festival, along with the fantastic photos you took – especially of the tables of food, glorious Thai food. It all looks soooooo delicious!

  4. Great post, Jeff! That food looks amazing…

  5. This really does remind me of the Thai Temlpe in Berkeley, where people from the neighborhood would amass on Sunday mornings to plow through tray after tray of delicious home-cooked Thai food. The moment you realize you’ll never possibly keep track of everything on your plate and just have to sit back and enjoy the experience is invaluable.

    Great work!

  6. I hear there is an even bigger temple and festival in Centereach :

  7. […] a series of international buffets. Queens in particular offers a revolving door of temple meals and community events that highlight food as a tasty gateway to culture; thanks to the openness and appetite of the […]

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