Giving Alms to Monks in Thailand

“Tak Bat” means giving alms to monks. It’s a way for Thai people to give back by offering food to Buddhist followers who help teach others to be good and virtuous. It’s not charity in the Western sense. Thais see it as a virtue and for monks it’s a chance to give people the means to show goodness and do good deeds. One of the most

By now, I had already developed an immense appreciation for this part of Thai culture – Dan and I just spent two days at a Buddhist meditation retreat, focused on the philosophy behind Buddhism, being good, and giving back.

Our local guide Pai Boon was so kind to share with us the tradition of giving alms to monks in Chiang Mai. He took us to a city’s local quarter where we could participate in tak bat.

Praying (2)

Monks go out for alms at dawn around 5am or 6am, usually around the streets by a Thai monastery. They walk in a straight line, one behind the other with the most senior monk ahead, and always barefoot. With their barefeet connected to the ground it is the Buddhist way of keeping close to nature and earth, since wearing shoes disconnects ourselves from our impact on nature. Tricia’s reasons to go barefoot are also pretty interesting.

giving alms monks thailand

Monks barefoot

The Buddhist ritual is to place fresh food into the alms bowls that monks carry with them. Since rice is a staple in Thai culture, families cook it fresh from home and put a portion in plastic bags to give, or you can buy a prepared dish from local street vendors.

Giving Alms to monks thailand

Thai vendor


Giving alms

Thai family kneeling


Pai Boon our Thai guide

Pai Boon, our Thai guide giving alms


giving alms

Giving good allows receiving good deeds and merits.

giving alms

Sharing our goodness


Thais also believe in sharing alms with the deceased in a ritual callled “kruat nam”. After giving alms to monks, it’s customary to pour a small amount of water into a cup then pour the water into soil. It’s like sharing goodness with the Earth and everyone around it!


Giving alms to the Earth

Giving alms to the Earth



buddhist monks

In Chiang Mai, one of the things that stuck with me most is the Buddhist teaching that it is better to give.

the more we give to others the better people we become

#ThailandInsider Tip: I highly recommend spending a morning giving alms – you absolutely have to experience this at least once if you’re coming to Thailand. I suggest going with a local because they can show you how to properly and respectfully present your alms to monks. If you contact me, I can connect you with Pai boon who was our amazing local guide in Chiang Mai.

Where and When to go:

In the early morning hours, usually between 5.30am and 8am. It usually takes place around their Wat or temple.

What to bring:

Fresh food like rice, fruit, juice or milk. They take it back to the Wat to share and eat what is donated.


More in this series:

Homprang and her Thai Walking Massage
Muay Thai Training in Thailand
Volunteering with Elephants
Spending Two Days at a Buddhist Meditation Retreat
My Thai Cooking Class in Chiang Mai


Thank you Pai Boon for sharing your culture with us.

I was a guest of Tourism Authority of Thailand – Canada while in Chiang Mai as part of their #ThailandInsider campaign. As always, all opinions are my own.