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Temples or wats are the spiritual core of Thai people, 95 percent of whom are Buddhists. There are around 400 wats in Bangkok. Some are small, located far away from tourist traffic, some are magnificent and massive, filled with complex halls, adorned with intricate structures, or covered in gold.
In this article we introduce seven of the best temples in Bangkok to inspire you and to help you plan your temple trip.
Wat Phra Kaew, or Temple of The Emerald Buddha, is Thailand’s most valued and sacred temple. It enshrines the country’s most revered Buddha statue, Phra Kaew Morakot or The Emerald Buddha.
The Emerald Buddha is only 66 cm tall but sits high up and is draped in monastic robes inside the main bot (ordination hall).
Outside the main bot, you will find a statue of the Chinese goddess of mercy, Kuan Im, and 178 murals depicting the Ramakien in its entirety. Wat Phra Kaew has no living-quarters for the monks like other temples, but it has decorated holy buildings, statues, and pagodas.
The Emerald Buddha was first discovered in Chiang Rai in 1464. It was taken to Luang Prabang, then to Vientiane, before the King of Thonburi took it back to Bangkok. The Emerald Buddha was then enshrined in Wat Phra Kaew, when King Rama built the city of Bangkok in 1785.
Location: Na Phralan, Phra Nakorn (inside the Grand Palace complex), Old City (Rattanakosin)
Opening times: Daily, 8.30 am - 3.30 pm
Wat Pho is known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Capturing the temple’s 43 meters reclining Buddha into a single photograph has been an exciting challenge for all visitors; you can try it too!
The Reclining Buddha is 15 meters high and 43 meters long, the city’s largest reclining Buddha statue. It is covered with gold leaf, and its four-meter long feet are encrusted with exquisite pearl decorations.
The temple also houses around 1.000 Buddha images and 91 stupas or chedi. You can also have a quick massage lesson there, as the temple is the birthplace of Thai massage and a highly respected massage school since 1955.
Wat Pho, or Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is one of the oldest and largest Buddhist temples in Bangkok. It was built during King Phetracha’s reign (1688-1703).
The reclining Buddha was made to represent the entry of Buddha into nirvana. It was installed at the same time as the second restoration of the temple by King Rama III in 1832.
Location: Wat Pho, Sanam Chai Road, and Maharaj Road. The Old City (Rattanakosin)
Opening times: Daily, 8 am - 5 pm
The name of the temple literally means “Golden Mountain”. Wat Saket is located on a steep artificial hill, and it is crowned with a gleaming golden chedi, giving the impression of a golden mountain from afar.
Wat Saket is situated atop a low man-made hill. Upon entering, there are 300 steps that encircle the temple that will bring you to the hilltop. At the end of the climb, which is fairly easy, you can see the 58-meter golden chedi and enjoy the view of Bangkok city.
The temple originally dates back to the Ayutthaya era (1350 – 1767 AD) as the capital’s crematorium, as well as the grave of around 6.000 plague victims. It was first restored under King Rama I; then King Rama IV added the golden chedi on top of the hill.
Location: Ratchadamnoen Klang Road and Boripihat Road
Opening times: Daily, 9 am - 5 pm
The temple houses the world’s largest and most impressive solid-gold Buddha statue. It is located at the end of the city’s Chinatown, Yaowarat Road, and near Hualampong railway station.
Sitting gracefully inside the temple is the three-meter-tall (9.8 feet), five-and-a-half-ton statue of The Golden Buddha, officially titled Phra Phuttha Maha Suwana Patikamon. The gold is estimated to be worth around 250 million dollars.
The remarkable golden Buddha statue was made in the 13th or 14th century but sat ignored for around 200 years, as it was plastered to hide the gold beneath. Originally, it was covered to fool the invading Burmese in the late Sukhothai period and later in the Ayuthaya period.
In the 1950s some workmen accidentally dropped the statue from a crane and cracked the plaster open, revealing the remarkable solid gold statue underneath.
Location: 661 Traimit Road, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong (West of Hua Lampong Station)
Opening times: Daily, 9 am - 5 pm
Some may recognize Wat Suthat from afar, thanks to the iconic yet towering Giant Red Swing across the road that gives it its nickname: ‘Temple of the Giant Swing’. Worth seeing are also the temple’s magnificent mural paintings and Chinese pagodas inside.
The 21.15 meter tall swing or Sao Ching-Cha was formerly used in a Brahim thanksgiving ceremony. In the past, during the Brahim ceremony, two young men would ride the swing high and try to grab a bag of silver coins with their teeth.
The practice was dangerous, resulting in some fairly severe injuries and some deaths that led to a stop of the ceremony in 1932.
The temple was originally constructed under King Rama I to shelter the 13th-century bronze Buddha image from Sukhothai. The Giant Red Swing was first constructed in 1784 by King Rama I for the swing ceremony.
Location: Bamrung Muang Road, The Old City (Rattanakosin)
Opening times: Daily, 8.30 am to 9 pm
The magnificent architecture of Wat Benjamabhopit, or the Marble Temple, can be seen on the back of the 5-Baht coin. It typifies Bangkok’s architectural style with high gables, stepped-out roofs and elaborate ornaments.
The temple is nicknamed as ‘The Marble Temple’ because of its external walls that are all covered with imported white marble from Italy, giving it a striking feature.
It has striking Carrara marble pillars, a marble courtyard and two large lions or singhas at the entrance of the bot. The interiors are decorated with lacquer, gold and paintings of stupas.
The temple was constructed in 1899 at the request of King Rama V, as indicated by the temple’s name which literally means ‘the temple of the fifth king’. His ashes are now buried inside the ordination hall under a Sukhothai-style Buddha statue.
Location: 69 Nakornpathom Road, Dusit.
Opening times: Daily, 8.30 am - 5.30 pm
Wat Arun is stunning, especially at dawn. It is located at the west bank of the Chao Phraya River and is the best known among Thailand’s landmarks. Get your iconic photo of Bangkok’s rising sun here!
From outside, the five stunning towers “phra prang” welcome all the visitors. They are all covered by tiny pieces of multihued Chinese ceramic.
The highest phrang (Khmer-style tower) is 82 meter tall. You can climb to the top and enjoy the view of the Chao Phraya river, the Grand Palace and Wat Pho from afar.
King Taksin first arrived at this temple after a war in Ayutthaya with the Burmese; it is believed that he arrived at dawn. He had it renovated and hence renamed it after the Indian ‘god of dawn’ (Aruna).
The Emerald Buddha first resided in this Wat, before it was moved to Wat Pho.
Location: 34 Arun Amarin Road, Kwang Wat Arun, Khet Bangkok Yai.
Opening times: Daily, 8 am - 5 pm
The temples not only are an important part of Buddhist tradition in Thailand, but they are also striking tourist attractions that you should not miss. Allow us to help you to plan your visit to the temples; we can assure you to match the temple visit with your preferences.