The most wonderful temples of Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital and the most populous city of Thailand. This vibrant city offers many options for all type of travelers. The city is rich in natural sites, cultural attractions and mesmerizing locations. But to talk about Bangkok is to talk, mainly, about it famous temples! Many travelers arrive to Bangkok every year to discover these unique historical constructions, that are a vital part of the capital’s heart and soul. The spirituality richness comes together with the visual beauty, making these temples an absolute must visit.
Next, we introduce you the famous temples you have to include in your itinerary:
1. Wat Mahathat (Temple of the Great Relic)
Wat Maha or the Temple of Great Relic is located on the city island in the central part of Ayutthaya in Tha Wasukri sub-district. This temple is situated on the corner of the present Chikun Road and Naresuan Road. The monastery stood on the
west bank of Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak, an important canal, which has been filled up somewhere in the early 20th century. In ancient times the temple was likely fully surrounded by canals and moats.
Wat Mahatat in a common name for a Buddhist temple, because it is the name of any temple that houses relics from Buddha.
The importance of this temple has grown due the fact that it’s located near the Grand Palace.
2. Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
Built within the grounds of the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew or The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is the most important and most visited temple in Bangkok.
One of the most significant features of Wat Phra Kaew is the Emerald Buddha, carved into a 66 cm tall block of Jade.
This highly revered icon was first discovered in 1464 in Chiang Rai when the Wat sheltering it was struck by lightning. It was taken to Laos before coming back to Chiang Mai and finally making a permanent home in Bangkok, where it is today.
Wat Phra Kaew is a superb temple to explore, especially the two km long gallery covered with incredibly detailed mural paintings depicting 178 scenes of the epic story of Ramayana.
3. Lak Muang – (City Pillar Shrine)
The Thai people have a tradition of constructing a city pillar shrine before erecting the major buildings and construction projects of new cities. The city pillar shrine for Bangkok, Lak Muang, sits across from the Grand Palace.
An interesting curiosity about the city pillar shrine is the fact that it is especially important to Bangkok fisherman. The Thai fisherman often come to the shrine to light fireworks and pay their respects before heading off to fish, for good luck.
The story of Lak Muang has some fascinating facts like, like the one regarding the reconstruction of the first pillar: the first pillar was constructed by Rama I, but there was a rumor that during its construction four snakes were killed when they crawled underneath it. To such a superstitious people, this was taken as an omen that the city would only survive for 150 years. To squash this rumor, Rama IV had the pillar moved and reconstructed in December of 1853.
In 2007, the city completed works on restorations that restored the beauty of the City Pillar Shrine.
4. Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Wat Pho is older than the city of Bangkok, since its building predates the fall of ancient Ayutthaya.
This temple is located south of the Grand Palace and it’s the most important of Thailand’s six first class royal temples and a very popular tourist site.
The temple has an amazing story behind. Its original name was Wat Photaram, and it was named for the Indian monastery where the Buddha was believed to have obtained enlightenment. Part of the temple played a role in the 1688 Siege of Bangkok; however, it gained its current prominence when King Rama I moved the capital of Siam to Bangkok and it was now located near both royal temples and the Grand Palace. The temple’s current form was heavily influenced by the renovations done during the reign of King Rama III, with additional minor renovations done by King Rama IV.
5. Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, is another of Thailands six first class Royal Temples and it’s located on the west side of the river. Its large prang on the bank of the Chao Phraya river is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. It’s possible to climb up to the top.
Wat Arun was built after the King of Siam, King Taksin, fled from Ayutthaya. Once the Burmese had burned the ancient capital, the Siamese needed a new place to be based from. Because he and his army arrived at the site as the sun was coming up, the temple came to be called the temple of dawn. It’s name was officially changed to Wat Arun Rajwararam during the reign of King Rama II.
6. Wat Saket (The Golden Mount)
Wat Saket is popularly known as the Golden Mount or Phu Khao Thong. This temple is a low hill crowned with a gleaming gold chedi. Within, the 58-metre chedi houses a Buddha relic and welcomes worshippers all year round.
The temple grounds feature mature trees and typical Buddhist structures such as the main chapel, ordination hall and library. Its origins can be traced back to the Ayutthaya period (1350- 1767 AD) and it underwent major renovations during King Rama I’s reign (1782-1809).
7. Wat Suthat (Temple of the Giant Swaing)
Wat Suthat, located in the Old City area, is one of the oldest and most impressive temples in Bangkok. This temple is better known for the towering red Giant Swing that stands at its entrance. It features an elegant chapel with sweeping roof, magnificent wall murals and exquisite hand-carved teakwood door panels.
The temple’s construction was commissioned by King Rama I (1782-1809), to shelter the 13th Century bronze Buddha image transported by boat from Sukhotai, but it was finally completed during King Rama III’s reign (1824-51).
8. Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha)
Located at the end of Chinatown’s Yaowarat Road, near Hualampong Railway Station, Wat Traimit is famous for housing the world’s largest massive gold seated Buddha measuring nearly five metres in height and weighing five and a half tons.
In the past, artisans crafted the Buddhas in gold and disguised them from invading armies by a covering of stucco and plaster.
9. Loha Prasat (The Metal Castle)
Bangkok houses many majestic temples and each of them has its unique beauty and wonder, but some really stand out with their unique architectural identity.
Despite being quite near Khaosan Road and next to the well known Wat Saket, the amazing Loha Prasat is not often talked about. Also known as the Metal Castle, Loha Prasat is located in the grounds of Wat Ratchanaddaram and was even submitted to UNESCO in 2005 to become a world heritage site, highlighting its historical importance. This title hasn’t yet been given.
10. Wat Benjamabhopit (Wat Benja – The Marble Temple)
Wat Benjamabhopit is also called Wat Benja and it was built in by King Rama V in 1900.
All of the external walls of the main temple are covered with marble imported from Italy – for this reason it’s also known as the Marble Temple. This dazzling feature made this temple very famous.
Located near the many government offices and palaces, this wat is highly revered and is often visited by high ranked officials.
11. Wat Prayoon
Wat Prayoon, or Wat Rua Lek, sits on the western side of the Chao Praya river bank. The temple was built during King Rama III’s reign, and its outstanding features include a large inverted bell shaped chedi (pagoda), turtle ‘mountain’ housing spirit houses and a pond where visitors can feed the turtles.
Wat Prayoon is located on the Thonburi side, at the foot of Memorial Bridge (Saphan Phut). This area is on the southern edge of the old Portuguese community (Kuthi Jeen), an area designated to Portuguese merchants and government officials during the Early Rattanakosin Period (after Ayutthaya was destroyed and King Rama I founded a new capital in Thonburi).
Tips for Visiting the Temples in Bangkok
- Don’t forget to bring water, because Bangkok is always hot.
- Wear modest clothes – your knees and elbows need to be covered.
- Choose shoes that are easy to take off and to put on, because you’ll have to take them off in every temple you visit.
- Beware of pickpockets, especially at the more crowded sites.
- Study the history of the city and the temples before you go, so you’ll be more informed and have a more fulfilled experience.