Must-See Temples in Bangkok

by - 6:34:00 PM

A visit to Bangkok is usually associated with its eye-opening nightlife, vibrant markets and delicious street food but there is a calm, spiritual side to the city as well. Bangkok is home to more than 400 temples or ‘wats’ and the majority are awe-inspiring in their grandeur and opulence.

From the hotels near the Sukhimvit district of Bangkok, there is a plethora of temples to choose from, most of which are still used as places of worship and are still home to Buddhist monks.

Wat Pho
Many visitors to this site get no further than the famous reclining Buddha which is no surprise as the statue in question is 15-metres tall and 46-metres long. Entirely covered in gold leaf it is a monumental sight, even its feet are five metres long and decorated with mother of pearl symbols that represent the characteristics of the Buddha.

Explore a little further and you will find one of the largest temple complexes in Bangkok with some very knowledgeable guides to talk you through the intricate statues and murals. Formerly Thailand’s first university, Wat Pho is now known as a centre for traditional medicine and massage so after a good walk round you can have your feet professionally soothed.

Wat Phra Kaew
Regarded as the most important temple in Thailand, this sits within the grounds of the Grand Palace and its name translates to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha because it shelters a 66cm tall statue carved from a single block of jade. The original Wat housing this relic was struck by lightning in 1464 and it was subsequently moved several times before finding its way to Bangkok.

Today only the King of Thailand is allowed on the same platform as the statue where three times a year he performs a ceremony to change the cloak covering the statue in accordance with the seasons; summer, winter and rainy. Also worth a look here is the gallery with its intricate mural depicting the Ramayana epic; the 178 scenes cover a whopping 2km.

Wat Arun
It is known as the Temple of Dawn but in fact sunset is an ideal time to visit as it looks particularly stunning as night falls and its lights go on. Very different in style from the other temples of Bangkok, its central spire, or ‘prang’, is more than 70-metres tall and decorated with myriad tiny pieces of coloured glass and porcelain. A Bangkok landmark, you can climb the central prang if you have a head for heights and there is a railing to help you up and down.

Loha Prasat Temple
Even in a city as full of temples as Bangkok, this one stands out for its unusual architecture. Situated in the grounds of Wat Ratchanaddaram, this temple has been nominated as candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status. Inspired by similar temples in Sri Lanka and India, it was built in 1846 and is the only one of the three still standing. Its design of multiple concentric square storeys incorporates 37 metal spires that represent the 37 virtues required to achieve enlightenment and at the top houses a relic of Lord Buddha. The multiple pillars form a maze of alleyways to explore before taking in the large white temples of Wat Ratchanaddaram itself.

The best time to visit is the early mornings to avoid the heat and the crush of tourists, although there is no need to rise quite as early as the monks who start their day at 4am but your best bet is stay at a hotel near bangkok sukhimvit. Do remember that as these are places of worship, you need to dress appropriately; covered shoulders and no shorts otherwise you won’t be allowed in.

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