Visitors may be surprised to hear that many temples are in the heart of the capital of Thailand. Bangkok, while it is known for its epic nightlife, street food, and more, is one of the most historical cities in Southeast Asia. Some of the most stunning temples call Bangkok home. Every temple is noteworthy, but the three most popular and arguably most stunning of them all are Wat Pho, Wat Phra Kaew, and Wat Arun. Here, things you need to know about the most popular temples in Bangkok.
Many of the temples found in the capital are Buddhist structures. About 95 percent of Thailand’s population practices Theravada Buddhism. This is the oldest form of Buddhism. While the temples are some of the top attractions in town, these stunning relics are places of worship for those who call Thailand home. It is not uncommon to see Thais gathering to make merit, pray, give offerings, and more at any one of the temples around the capital. Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and Wat Phra Kaew are all Buddhist temples. In addition to the selfie-taking tourists, many of those who visit these popular temples do so for religious purposes.
Wat Pho is more famously known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The temple is also known as Wat Phra Chetuphon. The temple is home to a reclining Buddha that sits at about 160 feet long and almost 50 feet tall and is covered in gold leaf. It is both one of the largest and oldest temple complexes in Bangkok. It was built in the 16th century. Many of the structures were later restored. In addition to the reclining Buddha, the complex is home to a number of interesting and stunning architectural structures. This includes many noteworthy chedis, a Chinese pavilion, small gardens, an exceptional bot, and more.
One of the most interesting finds on the temple grounds is the traditional Thai massage school. Because it is a school, the massages are incredibly affordable. It is a great way to escape the heat for an hour before heading to the next incredible temple on our list. Wat Pho is open to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wat Phra Kaew
The glistening Wat Phra Kaew sits on the grounds of the Grand Palace north of Wat Pho. Construction of the temple began in 1785, only three years after construction of the Grand Palace started. A new palace was needed because the capital was moved from the Thonburi district to Bangkok on the opposite banks of the Chao Phraya River. The temple is home to the Emerald Buddha, which was carved from a single block of jade. It is one of the most highly revered religious relics in all of Thailand.
Visitors are greeted with a plethora of buildings and structures that are worth meandering through before making their way to the Emerald Buddha. Buildings include the Ho Phra Monthien Tham (library), the golden chedi, the Ramakien gallery, and more. Wat Phra Kaew is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Wat Arun is one of the most stunning temples of them all. It sits right along the murky banks of the Chao Phraya River in Thonburi. It is made up of five prangs, or towers, and each one is vibrant and is covered in colorful foliage tiles. The reclining Buddha found in Wat Pho used to be in Wat Arun but was later moved. King Taksin named the temple Wat Arun, or the Temple of the Dawn, because he came upon the structure at dawn. He then designated it as a royal structure.
The temple is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. After exploring the grounds of the stunning temple, one of the best ways to enjoy the religious structure is across the river at sunset. There are plenty of riverside restaurants serving up both Thai and Western cuisine right on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, providing diners with the perfect spot to watch the sun go down.
Many of the temples in Bangkok have strict dress codes. The Grand Palace, where the stunning Wat Phra Kaew is, has the sternest of them all. The rules apply to both men and women. They must have their chest, shoulders, and legs covered. Even a bit of ankle showing will have security showing visitors to the door. At most temples, visitors need to cover their shoulders and knees.
To note, visitors should also be aware that before entering any of the buildings on the grounds of the temple, they will need to remove their shoes. They should also respect those who are worshipping and be sure to not point their feet as anyone. The feet are are the most disrespectful part of someone’s body in Thailand.
In Bangkok, most of the most popular temples have an entrance fee. Wat Arun will only cost visitors ฿50 and is the cheapest . Wat Pho is ฿100, and visitors need exact change to pay this entrance fee. This fee also includes a small bottle of water. Entrance into both the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew is the most expensive, as it is ฿500. The grounds of the Grand Palace are much more extensive than the other locations on our list. It will also take visitors a bit longer to explore.
How to Get There
Both Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew are off the Tha Thien Pier on the Chao Phraya River. The easiest way to reach the river is by taking the BTS Skytrain to the Saphan Taksin station. From there, visitors will take exit two and make the short walk to the pier. The Chao Phraya River Express Boat will take visitors there. Tell the person selling tickets that you want to go to Wat Pho. The boats come about every 5-25 minutes. Visitors can walk from Wat Pho to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew or get a short motorbike taxi. Wat Arun is across the river from the Tha Thien Pier. Visitors can take a short ferry ride to reach it, and this costs only ฿4.
Experience the Temples with Inspitrip
If you are interested in seeing these temples up close and personal, the best way to do so is with our customizable temples experience. Inspitrip offers a number of adventures equipped with our personally vetted local insiders, who are at the ready and able to take visitors around their city and travel and explore as the locals do. Traveling in a foreign country can be an intimidating endeavor, but not with one of our local insiders by your side. Explore the most stunning temples in Bangkok with your private local insider!