It is impossible to visit Bangkok and not see a single temple. The temples play an important factor in Thai culture and are therefore located in every small community and district of the Capital city. It is not rare to have more than one temple in just a few hundred feet from each other. To help you find the most remarkable Bangkok temples, we selected the few that stand out by architecture, historical and cultural value. Remember that these temples are religious sites and entrance to the temples can be denied if you don’t dress appropriately.
Wat Saket is a temple complex and is home to an artificial man-made hill called the “Golden Mountain”. The hill was actually made by accident when a chedi on the location collapsed and sank into wet soil. The remaining rubble was later overgrown by nature. Instead of removing the old chedi, a new chedi was build on top of it. At the base of the hill is an old cemetery and as you walk around the hill you can see pictures and grave marks of passed away Chinese immigrants which gives the ground area a spooky atmosphere. Climbing the stairs that spiral around the hill will bring you to the golden chedi on top of it. Most tourists go straight up the hill for a great view over the city, but you might also want to check out the main building and the lovely small pavilion which is partially hidden from sight just a few meters away from the hill which houses old buddhist scrolls.
Wat Arun on the riverbanks of the Chao Phraya river. Photo by: Rolf H
Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, and by the locals “Wat Chaeng” , is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. It is just across the river from the “Tha Tien” boat pier. When you go on a boat ride along the river, you can easily spot this temple as the design is quite different from the other temples. A 70 meters tall spire (prang) stands majestically on the river edge and makes one of Bangkoks most famous landmarks. The spire is decorated with thousands of tiny pieces of coloured glass and Chinese porcelain that glimmer in the sunlight. It is possible to go up the spire but be careful because the steps are really steep. The difficult climb is however worth it as you can have a fantastic view over the river and look at the temples on the opposite side of the river. To reach Wat Arun you can go by skytrain to the Saphan Taksin BTS station and then take the river boat to the Tha Tien Pier. From there you need to take a small ferry to the other side of the river. The Tha Tien boat pier is also in walking distance from Wat Pho.
Inside Wat Traimit is world’s largest massive gold seated Buddha statue. The statue is nearly 5 meters tall and weighs over five ton. On sunny days the pure gold statue is sparkling and covers the entire statue in an aura of light. In the past the statue was covered with a casing of plaster to hide the gold from invading armies, but the gold was later discovered when parts of the plaster broke off during transportation of the statue. There is also a small museum inside the temple for which you will have to pay a small entrance fee. Visiting the golden Buddha statue on top of the temple is free.
Close to the famous Temple of Dawn stands a much lesser known temple. Tourists completely ignore this temple and rather go to Wat Arun without knowing what they are missing out on. The building of Wat Kalayanamit is massive and once you step through the large doorway, you will see why. The temple is home to a giant Buddha statue and the interior of the temple looks really impressive. Because of the lack of tourists, this temple still feels authentic and locals perform their religious activities inside without being bothered by a tourist crowd. You can take a ferry from the Ratchinee Pier which will take you directly to the temple pier.
This temple is behind the Wat Phra Kaew temple complex. Wat Pho is famed for the giant 46 meters long reclining Buddha statue that is covered in gold. The statue almost fills the entire building. Outside the main building are several small chedis that house the old bones of passed away royal family members. Wat Pho is also famed for the traditional Thai massage school located on the temple grounds.
Wat Phra Kaew
Visiting Wat Phra Kaew is the main activity for many tourists in Bangkok. It is regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand and thousands of people visit the temple on every day. It can get extremely crowded but a visit is absolutely worth it. The sacred Emerald Buddha, dating from the 15th century AD, is situated here and is still part of many religious and royal ceremonies. The temple with the Emerald Buddha is beautifully decorated and is guarded by several giant statues. On the temple grounds is also the Grand Palace which was constructed in 1782 and has been the official residence of the Thai kings till 1925.