There are more than 400 wats (or temples) disseminated all around Bangkok but everyone rushes to three most famous ones: Wat Pra Kaew, Wat Arun and Wat Pho. But where do you go after that? What other temples are worth visiting and why? Where are they? There is no way to see them all but we have seen a lot, including the infamous David Beckham Temple (yes, it does really exist), one swallowed by a giant tree and even one that was used for executions!
Here I bring you 8 Must-See temples to visit while in Bangkok and fortunately many are located near the Grand Palace, perfect for a day of fun exploration. Just remember to not only to bring your camera, but also to wear long light pants, a tee shirt that covers your shoulders and proper shoes as some temples will not allow flip flops. Drink lots of water and wear a hat or cap, as it can get real hot out there…
This is one of our favorites. It’s not the most popular one in Bangkok, but especially for first-time visitors this temple offers all you need: beautiful architecture, local religious activities, a great gallery with dozens of Buddha statues and an overall relaxing atmosphere right in the middle of Bangkok. Wat Suthat is situated centrally, right next to the Giant Swing (you might want to google that).
The area around the temple is also great for another first encounter with Bangkok: right outside the temple walk the small alleys where Buddha statues are being manufactured and renovated. You will love it.
Also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (don’t you love names like that?) this one is regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. It’s situated within the grounds of the Grand Palace, so you first have to pay that hefty Palace entrance fee (400 Bath) to get in. This temple does not have living quarters for monks, something we always love to watch while visiting other temples (eg see Wat Ben below), but the combination of Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew is a must!
I think the most famous one in Bangkok: the Temple of Dawn. Situated on the west bank of the Chao Phraya, you can reach the temple by ferry from Taksin boat pier (only 3 Bath, a real bargain!). The best pictures of the temple are taken from the city side, but don’t miss out on visiting the temple because you can actually climb the central tower (prang). Mind the steep climb! By the way, at the time of writing Wat Arun was undergoing major renovation where also the central tower was closed. Hope it opens again upon your visit! You will especially enjoy the sunset when visiting this temple.
The temple itself it not very attractive, but Wat Traimit is famous for holding the world’s largest massive golden Buddha statue. It weights five and a half tons… Interesting fact: in the past, artisans made the statues in gold but covered them in stucco and plaster to hide them from invading armies. The Wat Traimit Buddha was discovered when it was accidentally dropped, revealing the gold underneath the plaster….
The temple is situated close to the main Bangkok railway station Hua Lampong.
Wat Saket, also the Golden Mount, is another must-visit (maybe all temples on this list are a must now that I’m thinking about it)! The temple was built on top of a small hill, in the middle of the city and crowned with a golden chedi. The walk to the top (300 steps to get you 58 meters high) can be extremely tiring on hot days, but the views are worth the effort! The path circles around the hill, offering different views and inviting you to hit some bells and gongs along the way (your kids will love it).
The temple of the amazing reclining Buddha: 46 meters long. Try to capture that in one photograph! Wat Pho can be found right next to the Grand Palace. We like Pho not only for its reclining Buddha, the whole temple ground looks amazing. Chedis (or stupas) with beautiful colorful tiles as well as gild Buddha statues in various chapels can be found within Wat Pho’s grounds.
Wat Pho also hosts a leading massage school in Thailand, so you can get your massage right here after a strenuous temple visit…
The Marble temple. Official name Wat Benchamabophitr. Famous for the Italian marble used to build the main ordination hall, but we were far more impressed by the living quarters of the monks. Small alleys where monks stroll and prepare themselves for yet another prayer session. We did not know about this temple before, but were so glad to have found it.
Last but not least: Loha Prasat or the Metal Palace. This one is really unique. The interior stands out because of the beautiful archways with repetitive prayer stools and red-colored ironwork. Metal spires on the outside give the temple a Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings-kind of look. Loha Prasat is situated close to the Democracy Monument and Wat Saket and is a real must (again)!
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