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Temples of Bangkok Thailand

Bangkok City Temples are a unique part of the capital's heart and soul. The architecture is awe-inspiring and the glittering decoration like no other. Imagine thousands of pieces of coloured glass and pottery adorned with intricate structures gilded in glaring gold.

Wat Phra Kaew
(The Emerald Buddha)

Officially known as Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram, regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. Located in the historic centre of Bangkok, within the grounds of the Grand Palace, it enshrines Phra Kaew Morakot (the Emerald Buddha), the highly revered Buddha image meticulously carved from a single block of jade. The Emerald Buddha (Phra Putta Maha Mani Ratana Patimakorn) is a Buddha image in the meditating position in the style of the Lanna school of the north, dating from the 15th century AD.

Raised high on a series of platforms, no one is allowed near the Buddha except HM the King. A seasonal cloak, changed three times a year to correspond to the summer, winter, and rainy season covers the statue. A very important ritual, the changing of the robes is performed only by the King to bring good fortune to the country during each season. The temple is beautifully decorated and has a great sense of peace about it.

The construction of the temple started when King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (Rama I) moved the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok in 1785. Unlike other temples, it does not contain living quarters for monks; rather, it has only elaborately decorated holy buildings, statues, and pagodas. The main building is the central 'ubosot' (ordination hall), which houses the Emerald Buddha. Even though it is small in size, it is the most important icon for Thai people.

Wat Arun in Bangkok
(Temple of Dawn)

Locally known as Wat Chaeng, is situated on the west (Thonburi) bank of the Chao Phraya River. It is believed that after fighting his way out of Ayutthaya, which was besigned by a Burmese army at the time, King Taksin arrived at this temple just as dawn was breaking.

The temple has flourished throughout the Rattanakosin Period. The beauty of the architecture and the fine craftsmanship declare its status as a temple of the first grade and one of the most outstanding temples in Thailand. The spire (prang) of Wat Arun on the bank of Chao Phraya River is one of Bangkok's world-famous landmarks. It has an imposing spire (prang) over 70 metres high, beautifully decorated with tiny pieces of coloured glass and Chinese porcelain placed delicately into intricate patterns. Although it is known as the Temple of the Dawn, it's absolutely stunning at sunset, particularly when lit up at night.

Wat Pho
(Temple of Reclining Buddha)

Wat Pho, or Wat Phra Chetuphon, is located behind the splendid Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It's the largest temple in Bangkok and famed for its huge and majestic reclining Buddha measured 46 metres long and covered in gold leaf. The Buddha's feet are 3 metres long and exquisitely decorated in mother-of-pearl illustrations of auspicious 'laksanas' of the Buddha.

Open: Daily 08:00 - 17:00
Location: Maharat Road. Close to the river, Old City (Rattanakosin)

Bangkok Wat Mahathat

The headquarter of Thailand's largest monastic order and Vipassana Meditation centre, Wat Mahathat is an important centre for the study of Buddhism and meditation. Although most programmes are in Thai, there are some in English and the temple has become a popular place to learn the Vipassana meditation method.

The temple was originally built to house a relic of the Buddha and one of the oldest temples in Bangkok. You can also have your fortune told inside the 'wat' (temple).

Open: Daily 09:00 - 17:00
Location: Phra That Road (near Sanam Luang Park, between the Grand Palace and the National Museum), Old City (Rattanakosin)

Bangkok Wat Traimit
(Temple of Golden Buddha)

Located at the end of Chinatown's Yaowarat Road, near Hualampong Railway Station, Wat Traimit houses the world's largest golden 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.

Open: Daily 09:00 - 17:00
Location: Traimit Road (west of Hua Lampong Station), Chinatown

Bangkok Wat Sutat
(Great Swing)

One of the oldest temples with a sweeping elegant roof and the site of the original Giant Swing ceremony. A huge teak arch - all that remains of the original Giant Swing - lies in the grounds in front of the temple. The swing was used in a ceremony to give thanks for a good rice harvest.

Open: Daily 08:30 - 17:00
Location: 146 Banrung Muang Road, Old City (Rattanakosin)

Bangkok Wat Saket
(Temple of the Golden Mount)

The grubby yellow hill crowned with a gleaming gold chedi is also known as the Golden Mount, or 'Phu Khao Thong'. It rises within the compound of Wat Saket, an unusual temple that houses Buddha relics within its 58-metre-high chedi surmounted by a golden cupola.

Built by King Rama I just outside the new city walls, the late-18th century temple served as the capital's crematorium. During the following 100 years, the temple became the dumping ground for some 60,000 plague victims.

The Golden Mount was added to the compound in the early 19th century, when King Rama III built a huge chedi which collapsed into a hill of rubble. Buddhist belief holds that religious buildings cannot be destroyed, and many years later King Rama V topped the debris with another chedi in which he placed relics, believed by some to be the Buddha's teeth.

Open: Daily 8:00 - 21:00
Location: Between Boriphat Road and Lan Luang Road, Old City (Rattanakosin)

Wat Benchamabophit
(The Marble Temple)

Located in Dusit, Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram or The Marble Temple, is one of Bangkok's most modern and yet striking temples. Building began in 1899, shortly after completion of nearby Dusit Palace, when King Chululongkorn (King Rama V) asked his half-brother, Prince Narris, to design him a temple.

Open: 08:00 - 17:00
Where: 69 Rama V Road, Dusit

Wat Bowonniwetwihan

Wat Bowoniwet has added sacredness due to long-standing connections with the divine royal court, making it especially important to the Thais. Located on the northeast side of Bangkok's Rattanakosin Island, just within the old city walls on Phra Sumen Road, it was founded in 1826 by HRH Prince Maha Sakdipolsep, a son of King Rama III.

The complex consists of a large 'ubosot', with elaborately carved doorway arches and windows in gilded stucco. The gable is decorated with glazed ceramics, indicating strong Chinese architectural influences. There are several rare and much revered Buddha statues including Phra Suwannakhet, Phra Nirantarai and Phra Phuttachinnasi, which is thought to have been moulded in 1357. Behind it is a large chedi covered in gold tiles, surrounded by four small golden prangs.

Open: 08:00 - 17:00
Where: 248 Phrasumen Road, Phra Nakkon, Old City (Rattanakosin)

Wat Chanasongkram

Proof that the sacred can survive amidst the profane is Wat Chanagonkram. Its location in backpacker enclave Banglamphu, close to Khao San Road and mildly less frenetic Soi Rambuttri, belies both the ancient heritage and the tranquillity of this small temple and its shady grounds. Its origins date back to the Ayutthaya period, but it was restored in 1787, during the reign of Rama I. This was after the famous victory at the battle of nine armies, which explains the name - Wat Chanasongkhram Rajaworamahaviharn, which translates as 'victory in war'.

Open: 06:00 - 18:00
Where: Chakrapong Road, Near Khao San Road, Banglamphu

Wat Intharawihan

A soaring 32-metres high standing Buddha is what defines Wat Intharawihan, which borders Wisut Kasat road at the northern edge of Banglamphu. Known as the Luangpor Toh, building on this statue, built of brick and stucco, began in 1867 during the reign of King Rama IV. Decorated in glass mosaics and 24-carat gold, it took over 60 years to complete and is the tallest of its kind in the world.

Open: 08:30 - 20:00
Where: 114 Wisut Kasat Road, Banglamphu, Old City (Rattanakosin)

Wat Ratchanatdaram Worawihan

This square-shaped castle is a replica of one in India, standing 36 metres high and with 37 spires representing the 37 Bodhipak Khiyadhamma - the virtues leading to enlightenment. It was extensively embellished in the reigns of King Rama V and VI. Up its stairs, at its centre, is enshrined an urn containing Buddha relics. With those in India and Sri Lanka today in ruins, this is the only one of its kind left in the world. Wat Rajanadda is almost as well-known for its amulet market, which sells Buddhist amulets and magic charms in all sizes, shapes and sizes.

Open: 09:00 - 20:00
Where: 2 Machachai Road, Phra Nakhon, Old City (Rattanakosin)

Wat Rakhang

An ancient temple located in Thonburi next to the Chao Phraya River, Wat Rakhang was originally built in the Ayutthaya period. It earned its name - meaning temple bell - during the reign of King Rama I, when a bell was found in the temple compound. Later, King Rama II had this moved to Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), sending five new ones in its place. These can be found in the pretty Hor Rakhang, or bell tower, which is built in the four-gable style of Ayutthaya and early Rattanokosin periods and located in the corner of the temple compound.

Open: 05:00 - 21:00
Where: 250 Arun Amorin Road, Sirirai, Bangkok Noi

Wat Ratchabophit

Built in 1869, Wat Ratchabophit was the first temple to be commissioned by King Rama V, who had it built to commemorate his Queen and concubines. Located in Rattanakosin not far from the Grand Palace, it has distinct gothic elements that distinguish it from other temples in the area.

Open: 09:00 - 18:00
Where: 2 Fuang Nakhon Road, Phra Nakhon, Old City (Rattanakosin)

Wat Ratchapradit

Located in Rattanakosin not far from the Grand Palace and Wat Ratchabophit, the diminutive and yet striking Wat Ratchapradit dates back to the late 19th Century, belonging to the Thammayut Nikai Buddhist sect. King Rama IV had it built for them on a former coffee plantation.

The central feature, the impressive ubosot, is richly decorated in grey and white marble tiles and carved wood. The gateways and windows are adorned with intricate stucco crowns, the doors and window frames with Chinese pearl. The ceiling of the room is a deep red with patterns of gold gilded rosettes, while murals of royal ceremonies grace the walls. Inside is a beautiful altar containing the ashes of King Rama IV, on top of which is a replica of Phra Buddha Sihing.

Open: 09:00 - 19:00
Where: 2 Saranrom Road, Phra Nakhon, Old City (Rattanakosin)

Wat Suwannaram

Known for its wonderful original murals, Wat Suwannaram is a little known and rarely visited temple in Thonburi, not far from the Royal Barges Museum. It was built during the reign of King Taksin, during the Ayutthaya period, and briefly became an execution site for Burmese prisoners. Separate restorations during both King Rama I's and King Rama III's reigns gave it its current name and design, and it went on to serve as the Royal cremation ground for members of the royal family and high-ranking officers until the reign of King Rama V.

Open: 08:00 - 18:00
Where: 33 Soi Charanonitwong, Bangkok Noi

Wat Thepthidaram

Originally called Wat Ban Phraakrai Suanluang, this temple was built between 1836 and 1839 on order of King Rama III. A gift for HRH Prince Apsornsudathep, its architecture is characteristic of the period, especially the ubosot, or ordination hall, with its strong Chinese features such as gable decorated with glazed ceramics. Inside are some impressive murals and the temples main Buddha image, Luang Phor Khao or Phra Buddha Devavilasa.

Open: 05:00 - 21:00
Where: 70 Mahachai Road, Phra Nakhon, Old City (Rattanakosin)

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