The temples (or Wats) in Thailand are worth visiting even if you don't think yourself to be a spiritual person. The capital city is home to the world's most famous Buddhist temples in Bangkok. Temples here reflect Siamese styles of construction, as well as historical Lao and Thai traditions. It will also quickly come to your notice that every temple in Bangkok has a picture of Buddha and art texts, some of which date back to the 3rd Century AD. Known for providing a multitude of pleasures, whether, in the form of inspiration or tranquillity, the temples listed here are worth checking out on your next trip to the City of Angels.
Wat Pho is generally the top choice of any tourist on a temple tour in Bangkok. Why? For starters, the place is less crowded than the former and the main reason why its favourite is because it houses the city's largest reclining Buddha. In addition to that, it also has Thailand's most extensive collection of Buddha images, and it also happens to be the earliest centre of public education of the country. Covering a ground of 8 hectares, this temple in Bangkok also encompasses the national headquarters for preservation and teaching of a traditional Thai massage and Thai medicine.
After Wat Pho, the second best temple in Bangkok is Wat Phra Kaew. An Architectural beauty, this temple houses the country's most holy image in its complex - The Emerald Buddha. It is interesting to know that the widely famous Emerald Buddha is only 66cm tall and sits high above the worshippers in a spectacularly decorated ordination hall. The sculpture doesn't have an exact background, but legend says that it first appeared in the 15th century. The temple is spread on a 94.5-hectare ground which holds more than 100 buildings within and reflects 200 years of rich royal history.
Address: 2 Na Phra Lan Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon
In addition to being humongous and majestic, Wat Suthat also holds the title of the highest royal temple in Bangkok and Thailand. The sanctuary inside the temple vaults labyrinthine stories of the Buddha also called the Jataka murals and Thailand's most massive Phra Si Sakayamuni sculpture. Standing tall at 8 meters, it is Thailand's largest safeguarded Sukhothai-period bronze which was built in the 14th century. The temple also holds a significant place with the Brahman priests. The priests perform essential ceremonies here. Amongst the ceremonies is the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, held in May.
Address: 146 Bamrung Muang Rd, Khwaeng Wat Ratchabophit, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon
Wat Traimit is the home to an awe-striking 3 meter tall, 5.5 tonnes of pure gold Buddha sculpture. So it goes without saying that the prime attraction of this temple in Bangkok is the Golden Buddha. Constructed in the alluring Sukhothai style, the sculpture was found about 60 years ago when it fell from a crane and was stuck beneath a stucco. The construction of the temple itself is said to date back to the13th century. Hundred thousands of tourists flock in from all across the globe to have a glimpse of the glittering gold image. This temple in Bangkok also hosts religious exhibitions all around the year.
Due to its painfully long real name Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan, this temple in Bangkok is also known as Temple of Dawn. The most prominent characteristic of this temple is its 82 meters high tower which provides a panoramic view of Chao Phraya river, on the banks of which the temple is built. The stairs to reach the top of the tower are quite steep, so it gets a tad bit difficult to climb but it's worth it considering the scenic view it offers. With an entry fee of just THB 50, the temple provides one of the best sunset views in the entire city.
Address: 158 Thanon Wang Doem, Khwaeng Wat Arun, Khet Bangkok Yai,
Take a brisk ascent to the Phu Khao Thong temple, or more commonly known as the Golden Mount for a breathtaking panoramic view of the city's photogenic side. Even if you have covered major temples on your list, the Golden Mount is worth a visit. Located on an artificial hill, the temple is shaded by large trees. A sense of tranquillity passes and lingers in your head when you step inside. Wat Saket is Golden Mount's next door neighbour. Equally calm and peaceful (sometimes even more), Wat Saket contains the goriest and most beautiful murals. This temple in Bangkok also has depictions of a Buddhist hell, which is interesting to read about. The temple is even more beautiful in November, during an enchanting candlelight festival.
Address: Khwaeng Ban Bat, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon
Timings: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
7. Wat Mangkon Kamalawat
It's not so difficult to locate this temple in Bangkok as sounds of chanting and the alluring incense fragrance would be clearly evident when you are nearby Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, the Chinese style Buddhist temple, located in the hub of Chinatown. Take a walk outside the temple to find food vendors who sell food for the almighty. Oranges and dumplings are generally the most common items that are offered to the gods inside in a merit-making practice. The temple was built somewhere around 1871. The temple is bright and vibrant during the Vegetarian Festival; held annually, when culinary and religious practices happen actively.
Address: Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon
Timings: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
8. Sri Mariamman Temple
Sri Mariamman is one of the few Hindu temples amongst the many Buddhist ones. Dedicated to Lord Ganesh, the temple is as colourful and vivid as it can get. Its visually stunning architecture was built by Tamil immigrants in the 1860s. While most of the temple workers are from India, it is interesting to see even Thais and Chinese singing prayers inside this temple in Bangkok. Such is the power of the Hindu gods.
Address: 2 Pan Rd, Khwaeng Silom, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon
Timings: 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM
9. Wat Bowonniwet
Built in 1926, Wat Bowonniwet, also called Wat Bowon by the locals, is the national headquarters of Thammayut order, a sect that refers to Thai Buddhism. The temple also houses noteworthy murals. In addition to the murals, this temple in Bangkok also has depictions of western Thai life which dates back to the 19th century. As the temple stands on a high royal status, visitors should follow a civil dress code. Don't bother entering the premises wearing shorts and sleeveless clothes as the entry will be denied.
Address: 248 Phra Sumen Rd, Khwaeng Wat Bowon Niwet, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon
Timings: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM
10. Wat Prayoon
In a way, Wat Prayoon is no different than its other Buddhist counterparts. This temple in Bangkok showcases an ordination hall, meditation, hall, a library and other common features of a Buddhist temple. But there's a catch. A bright red iron fence, 1.5m in height is what sets this temple apart. The fence is made up of weapons as old as that of the 19th century. Axe, sword, lances are few of the many ancient weapons used in building the fence. Visitors can also feed turtles in the turtle pond placed within the boundaries of the temple. Plan a day's trip here to meet with the Portuguese community to know more about their culture.
Originally known as Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Chang Songkhran has one of the largest Sri Lankan style bell-shaped chedi in Sukhothai. Around the main chedi, there are several smaller chedis placed receding in size as they move towards the top. You can walk a little north of this temple in Bangkok where the monument of King Ramkamhaeng lies that locals usually visit.
Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen, also shortly known as Wat Paknam was built during the Ayutthaya period. The temple attracts mae chis (nuns) because of the meditation master Luang Pu Sod's meditation policies. He emphasised on Buddhist and secular studies for them. With a 7.9 acre complex, this temple has the largest mae chi community in Thailand.
Address: Ratchamongkhon Prasat Alley, Khwaeng Pak Khlong Phasi Charoen, Khet Phasi Charoen, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon
Wat Rakang, or the temple of bells, is a lesser known temple of Bangkok. Built in the 18th century, it has five giant bells and a seated Buddha in the meditation position in the centre. The architecture of this temple in Bangkok is sublime, and the murals inside the ordination hall are gorgeous and noteworthy. The locals believe that sounding of the bells will bring them fame and good reputation.
While boating across the Chao Phraya river, the large enchanting ordination hall of the Wat Kalayanamitr is sure to catch anyone's attention. Built-in 1825 by Chaophraya Nikonbodin, the temple's ordination hall is one of the tallest in Thailand. It houses a 15-metre tall Buddha image made of limestone and gold leaf.
Address: New Arun Amarin Rd, Khwaeng Wat Kanlaya, Khet Thon Buri
Located in the Bang Rak District, Wat Hua Lamphong is one-of-a-kind Royal Buddhist Temple in Bangkok. It has an aesthetic architecture, is easily accessible and also falls off the beaten path. This temple in Bangkok is extremely popular among the local Thai civilians, who visit here to donate money for coffins for the people who have died but, unfortunately, have no relatives who can afford to buy a coffin for them.
Address: 728 Rama IV Rd, Khwaeng Si Phraya, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon
Timings: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
A country's culture is prominently boasted through temples. Thailand isn't any different. Thailand is much more than its breathtaking bays and beaches. There's a lot to learn about the country's rich heritage and culture which can be done once you step inside any of the beautiful and tranquil pilgrimage places here.