The temples of Bangkok

  • Posted onMay 13th, 2013

Bangkok TemplesIf you are going to do some serious sightseeing in Bangkok, and want to experience the best of Thai history and culture, then a great deal of your exploring will need to be based around the city’s temples. The temples of Bangkok are at the heart of what Thailand is all about, with awe-inspiring architecture and decor, much of which is made from millions of coloured glass fragments and gold leaf, with their stunning beauty and dazzling imagery seen all other this wonderful city.

There are a few rules and some temple etiquette you’ll need to follow, such as covering up your legs and arms (so no shorts, vests, or revealing tops), paying close attention to when you need to remove your shoes (the majority of temple buildings will require you to remove your shoes before entering), and generally acting in a peaceful and respectful manor.

The temples are best visited early in the morning when things are much cooler and there are less tourists about, with most temples closing at around 6 PM. The monks themselves will be up well ahead of you, waking at 4 AM in order to collect their daily alms. While there are a daunting number of temples spread around the city, it’s best to focus your efforts on visiting just 2 or 3 of the most significant temple. Here’s is a brief guide to the best of Bangkok temples:

Wat TraimitWat Traimit

Found at the far end of Bangkok’s Chinatown, close to the Hualampong Railway Station, Wat Traimit is best known for being home to world’s largest golden seated Buddha.

The Golden Buddha is around 5 metres in height and weighs over 5 and a half tons. The Buddha was only discovered to be made of gold after it was accidentally dropped. At the time it was encased in stucco and plaster, which had been used to disguise the true value of the Buddha, hiding it from invading Burmese forces.

Wat PhoWat Pho

Wat Pho is the largest temple in Bangkok, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, located behind Wat Phra Kaew. In the main temple building you’ll find the breathtaking reclining Buddha which fills the room, measuring over 46 metre in length, covered head to toe in gold leaf.

Wat Pho is also home to Thailand’s oldest and most prestigious massage school and the perfect venue to try a traditional Thai massage.

Wat Phra KaewWat Phra Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew is best known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and is regarded by many Thais to be the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. Located within the grounds of the Grand Palace, here you’ll find the Emerald Buddha, painstakingly carved from a single block of jade.

The Emerald Buddha (officially known as Phra Putta Maha Mani Ratana Patimakorn) is a Buddha found in the meditating position and dates back to the 15th century.

Wat ArunWat Arun

On the opposite side of the Chao Phraya to Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew, you’ll find Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn (named such after the legend of King Taksin, who fought off a Burmese army to escape the ransacked Ayutthaya, arriving at this riverside temple jut as dawn was breaking).

Wat Arun, which once enshrined the emerald Buddha, is remembered by many tourists for its challenging steep steps. If you do manage to climb this temple you will be rewarded with sweeping views of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River.

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