Thailand is famous for its beaches, food, and its sacred temples. In Bangkok there are hundreds of Buddhist temples – called “wats” in Thai – all unique in their own special way. Some are tiny and hidden away. Others are grand and stately. With more than 400 temples in the city it is hard to know which ones to visit, especially if you only have a short time. Which Bangkok temples are the most impressive? Which Bangkok wats should you not miss? Take a look at our guide to 10 of the best temples in Bangkok. When visiting, remember to cover your shoulders and your legs, wear proper shoes not flip flops, and take a bottle of water for exploring in the heat.
1. Wat Phra Kaew
This famous wat is in the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, which means this is a must-visit stop on the tour of the city. Wat Phra Kaew is home to the beautiful Emerald Buddha, which is fashioned out of one single piece of jade. You’ll also find some amazing murals in this classic Bangkok temple.
2. Wat Pho
You surely can’t miss this Bangkok temple for the sight of the impressive 26-meter Reclining Buddha. Wat Pho is next door to the Grand Palace and houses the largest Buddha statue in Thailand. Pay careful attention to the soles of the Buddha’s feet, which are fashioned with mother-of-pearl inlays detailing Buddhism’s 108 auspicious signs.
3. Wat Arun
Wat Arun is one of Bangkok’s landmarks – the image of this unique temple is even on the 10-baht coin. Wat Arun means “Temple of Dawn” and it is located on the edge of the Chao Phraya River. The most distinctive parts of this temple are the towers – phra prang – which are embellished with thousands of pieces of Chinese pottery. The embellishment was begun by King Rama II and continued by King Rama III in the late 1800s. The entire temple complex also features shrines, lakes, and white buildings. You’ll get the best view of the whole temple from the opposite side of the river – go at sunset to take an impressive photo.
4. Wat Mahathat Yuwaratrangsarit
This temple may not be the most beautiful in Bangkok, but it is one of the most significant for Thailand in terms of religion and culture. The temple was constructed during the Ayutthaya period when it was used for royal ceremonies. Today, Wat Mahathat Yuwaratrangsarit is home to Thailand’s oldest educational institution for Buddhist monks – Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University.
5. Wat Saket
The attraction of this Thai temple is the setting – Golden Mount is a man-made hill that provides amazing views across Bangkok. The temple itself is not one of the most impressive, physically, but the surroundings are worth the hike to the top of the hill.
6. Wat Benchamabophitr
Visit Wat Benchamabophitr – the “Marble Temple” – and check out this Thai architectural wonder. It is built from Italian marble and has a European influence in its building style.
7. Wat Traimit
This wat is home to one of the largest golden Buddha statues in the world – this one is worth millions. The plain exterior of the temple hides this Thai wonder, which is located near to Hualumphong Train Station. You will also find here the start of the Chinatown neighborhood, a must-visit place in the city.
8. Loha Prasat
This Bangkok wat is also called the “Metal Castle” and it is a historically significant temple, with some fine architecture and an intriguing history.
9. Wat Suthat
One of Bangkok’s oldest temples, Wat Suthat is recognized by its huge Giant Swing at the entrance to the complex. This temple has an interesting chapel with some murals and hand-carved wooden door panels. If you are visiting the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace, you can combine it with a trip to this temple.
10. Wat Prayoon
Located on the west of the Chao Praya River, this temple features a bell-shaped pagoda and a pond with turtles. The temple is worth a visit and is located close to the Portuguese area of Bangkok.
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Featured Image via Piyush Kumar / Flickr