July 17, 2020.
Thailand has been a mainly Buddhist country for much of its history. Approximately 94% of Thai citizens are Buddhists. Presently, the country has almost 40,000 Buddhist temples that play a part in everyday life of Buddhist Thais.
The Buddhist temples around Thailand host community celebrations, educate the young in the teachings of Buddha and perform the funeral rites for Thais at the end of their lives.
But many temples, particularly in the capital city of Bangkok, are stunning examples of Thai architecture as well. These iconic temples attract Thai Buddhists from all over the country when they make a journey to Bangkok. They have also become tourist attractions because of their beauty and grandeur.
We’ve chosen five of the most beautiful, religiously significant, and iconic temples in the city as a must-see for travellers visiting the city on holiday. Temples are known as ‘Wats’ in the Thai language. Every temple is listed by both their formal, Thai name and their English nickname.
Tourists must understand that these temples are sacred to Thai Buddhists. So we’ve also included some tips to ensure that you pay the proper respect while you’re on the temple grounds and avoid offending resident monks and other visitors.
We’ll start with perhaps the most photographed temple in the city, Wat Arun, or the Temple of the Dawn. Located almost opposite the Grand Palace, this 17th-century temple has beautifully sculptured gardens around the central 'Prang' or 70-metre tower of the temple. It also has intricate murals in the Ordination Hall that are fascinating to see. With the prominent riverfront location of the temple, Wat Arun has become a treasured symbol of Bangkok.
Opening Hours: 8 AM- 5.30 PM.
Entrance Fee: 50 THB (Free for Local)
How to go: river boat at Pier 8
Wat Pho is also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. This temple is right next to the Grand Palace, which makes for a convenient visit day of sightseeing. The highlight of the temple is, as you would guess, a golden 15-metre-high, reclining statue of Buddha that stretches 43-metres-long. The statue is inside the temple. Outside the temple are grounds holding 91 Chedis, or Stupas.
The grounds also house the very first Thai massage school where you can get an expertly administered traditional Thai massage.
Opening Hours: 8 AM to 6:30 PM
Entrance Fee: 100 THB
How to Go: Located within walking distance right next to the Grand Palace
Located on the grounds of the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew is also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This is one of the most sacred temples in Thailand. The temple itself is one of the most intricately decorated temples in Thailand. It holds 178 murals that depict scenes from the Ramayana, an epic story revered in Thailand.
The temple holds a jade statue of the Buddha, discovered in 1464, that is traditionally referred to as the Emerald Buddha. No one but the King of Thailand is allowed to approach or touch the Buddha. The Buddha’s robes are symbolically changed three times a year by the King to coincide with the changing of the seasons and bring good luck to the people of Thailand.
The temple has a strict dress code that is enforced by guards at the door. You have to remove all hats, sunglasses and shoes to enter.
Opening Hours: 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM
Entrance Fee: Around 500 THB for all foreigners for entrance to the Grand Palace
How to Go: Every cab driver can deliver you to the Grand Palace, or you can also take a water taxi to Tha Chang (Pier N9).
Wat Saket, also known as the Golden Mount, is another temple in Bangkok that is favourite with photographers. Built on a human-made hill in the old city area of Bangkok near the river, the gleaming, gold Chedi at the top of the temple can be seen from a long distance around the city. The stark, white base of the temple only adds to the intensity of the gold colour of the Chedi.
Visitors can ascend the 300 steps to get a panoramic view of the river area of Bangkok. The temple is near Ratchadamnoen Road near the Chinatown area of Bangkok.
Opening Hours: 8 AM to 5 PM
Entrance fee: 50 THB
How to Go: Located just off Ratchadamnoen Road, a taxi is the best bet for access to the temple.
Wat Traimit is also known as the Golden Buddha. It’s a multi-level, temple of intricate, symmetrical architecture at the beginning of Yaowarat Road in Chinatown, making a visit to both Wat Saket and this temple a worthwhile afternoon’s tour. It’s an easy walk from the Hua Lamphong MRT station to the temple.
The main feature of the temple is something that takes most visitor’s breath away. A 5-metre high statue of the Buddha made of solid gold is seated inside the temple. This is the largest statue of its kind in the world and weighs 5.5 tons. The statue was discovered by accident in 1955 when workers dislodged the coating of plaster and stucco covering it and unveiled the treasure within.
The temple is also notable for the Yaowarat Chinatown Heritage Center, which is located on the second level of the temple. This museum offers a remarkable well-organised and fascinating glimpse into the past history of the area of Chinatown and Rattanakosin Island. It’s a fitting way to end your tour of both the temples and this historic area of Bangkok.
Opening Hours: 8 AM to 5 PM
Entrance Fee: There is40 THB entrance fee to see the Golden Buddha only, but for an additional 100 THB, you can visit the museum below the Golden Buddha as well.
How to Go: Located just off Charoen Krung Road, take a taxi or take the MRT to Hua Lamphong station. It’s within walking distance of the MRT station.
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