At first glance, Bangkok can look gentrified because of the neon-lit streets and the abundance of high rises. That’s why many people are shocked to learn that there are more than 400 temples in Bangkok. Many of them date back to the 15th century, carrying significant traces of the history of Thailand. Obviously, your brain would explode if you attempted to visit all the temples in only a few days. So, we are going to talk about the most significant and stunning temples in Bangkok.
A REMINDER ABOUT THE RULES OF THE TEMPLES IN THAILAND
When you fly into Bangkok without doing a bit of research about the Buddhist customs, you might end up doing something inappropriate. Before listing the top temples, we want to give you a briefing about the etiquette you should follow when visiting the temples.
- You should remove your shoes before entering a temple.
- The best attire to wear to a temple visit consists of loose-fitting and long-sleeved clothes. Ultimately, you should cover your shoulders and knees.
- You cannot bring food or drink into the temples.
- People consider it inappropriate when you turn your back to the Buddha Statue for a selfie. So, be mindful when taking pictures.
- WAT PHRA KAEW
Along with the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew is the most popular tourist sight in Bangkok. The distinct old Thai architecture with green and orange polished tiles on the roofs is impossible to walk past. Yet, the most significant element is on the inside, which is the Emerald Buddha thought to originate in India. Although the construction of the most recent temple was complete in 1785, the Emerald Buddha Statue stood here since the 15th century. The 66 cm tall Buddha statue carved from a green stone called jade has gained a status as the protector of Thailand. Another highlight of Wat Phra Khew is a 2-km long gallery depicting Sanskrit epics of Ancient India.
To fully grasp the interior of the temple, you should spend at least a few hours. You should also remember that it will be quite crowded during the day because of its popularity, so we suggest that you visit early in the morning.
- WAT PHO
The great thing about the temple -hopping in Bangkok is that you can walk from one to the other. Wat Pho, the largest and the oldest temple in the city, is only a short walking distance from Wat Phra Kaew. At its core lies the iconic Reclining Buddha. With a length of 44 meters and a height of 15 meters, the Reclining Buddha statue covered in gold leaf is one of the largest of its kind in the world. At the feet of the gigantic statue, you will find decorations called mother-of-pearl, which depicts the characteristics of the Buddha and his path to perfection.
Once you begin strolling through the corridors, you will also see hundreds of smaller Buddha statues and images. You can join the guided tours inside Wat Pho to fully appreciate the meaning behind each object.
Don’t forget to stop at the courtyard to take a look at colorful stupas, and take the world-famous traditional Thai massage before you leave. Thanks to Thailand’s first public university established in Wat Pho, many students specialized in alternative medicine and healing methods. In other words, you are in for the best massage in Bangkok.
- WAT ARUN
The Chao Phraya River is one of the most scenic locations in Bangkok, especially when you want to watch the sunset. The iconic Wat Arun Temple makes it an even more mystical experience. Here, you will find architectural features that you wouldn’t come across anywhere else in Bangkok. The 70 meters tall spire, with four smaller spires around, is the most prominent component of the delicate design. You can notice the patterns of colored glasses and porcelain around the spire throughout the banks of the river. Although the stairs to the top are quite steep, the views are equally rewarding. It is even possible to see the Grand Palace and Wat Pho from the top.
The ordination hall is home to a Golden Buddha statue and murals illustrating the reign of Rama III, who made remarkable contributions to the final design.
Wat Arun gets as many visitors at night as during the day, as it gets lit up and turns into a color feast after sunset.
- WAT SAKET
Wat Saket is perhaps the most sacred and visited temple in Bangkok among Buddhists, owing to a relic of Buddha from India it contains. The Buddha relic is inside a gold chedi on top of Wat Saket’s famous structure, the Golden Mount. The 80-meters-tall man-made hill was constructed by the orders of King Rama III. Since then, millions of Buddhists climb the steep hike of 300 steps to the top of the Golden Mount.
If you visit Bangkok in November, you can even witness the annual temple fair, where the locals install colorful lighting around the stupa, as well as a week-long street market selling all things Thai.
You will also come across an old cemetery at the base of Wat Saket, belonging to thousands of patients who died from plague in the 18th century. People believed that burying them on the grounds of Wat Saket would ward off the outbreak.
- WAT TRAIMIT
Of the seated golden Buddha statues in the world, the largest one is in Wat Traimit at the entrance of Bangkok’s Chinatown. The statue weighing almost 6 tons was discovered in the 1950s, with a coating of plaster around. However, the archeological studies revealed that its construction dated back to the 13th century. They also discovered that the value of the Golden Buddha is more than 250 million USD with 18-karat gold, making it one of the most expensive of its kind in the world.
The temple also contains an informative museum, where you can find out about the discovery of the Golden Statue, as well as the history of the Chinese community in Thailand.
- WAT MAHATHAT
As popular as Thailand is amongst travelers, tourism is not the only reason people fly into Bangkok. Over the centuries, many temples in the city have planted the Buddhist teachings in Thailand, especially the fundamentals of meditation.
Ever since its construction, the temple served as the place of higher education for Buddhist Monks in the country. The monks received top-quality training in Vipassana Meditation, which they passed down the generations. Today, Wat Mahathat is home to the number one meditation retreat center in Bangkok, with an emphasis on Vipassana. You can join the daily classes to gain more awareness of your senses, thought patterns, and emotions. Don’t worry if you don’t know Thai, many of the monks can speak English very well.
Besides being the heart of mindfulness in Bangkok, Wat Mahathat is also famous for the amulet market installed just outside the entrance every Sunday. Here, you can find all kinds of traditional medicine, therapeutic herbs, stones, amulets, lucky charms, not to mention the fortune-tellers who can read your palms.
There are many more temples in Bangkok other than the ones we mentioned here, but you shouldn’t skip our recommendations if you have a limited time in Bangkok. Even if you are not curious about the history of Thailand, you can still appreciate these architectural wonders and contemplate the significance of Buddhism in Thai culture.
You can fly to Bangkok from all around the world. All you have to do is to book a ticket on this website.