Step into the enchanting world of temples in Bangkok, where ancient traditions and spirituality intertwine with the vibrant modern cityscape. With Buddhism deeply embedded in Thailand’s culture, visiting temples in Bangkok is one of the best things to do if you want to get a better understanding of the local culture. The over 400 temples adorning the city may seem overwhelming when deciding which ones to explore during your visit. But worry not! We have carefully curated a list of the best & most fascinating temples that you simply cannot miss.
Prepare to be captivated as we guide you through the architectural wonders and cultural treasures of Bangkok’s temples. From the iconic Wat Arun with its towering spires and intricate mosaics to the revered Wat Phra Kaew housing the awe-inspiring Emerald Buddha. Each temple has its own unique charm and significance.
In addition to highlighting the must-visit temples, we will equip you with practical information such as entrance fees, opening times, how to get there, and the best times to visit. Furthermore, we guide you with essential information on dress code and temple etiquette. Understanding and respecting these cultural practices is vital for a meaningful temple visit.
Ready to embark on a temple-hopping adventure in Bangkok?
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The 7 most beautiful temples in Bangkok
Buddhism is deeply rooted within Thai culture, influencing many aspects of daily life and shaping the country’s identity. As the predominant religion, it serves as a guiding light for moral values, spiritual practices, and social customs. Merit-making, through acts of generosity and kindness, is a core practice ingrained in Thai culture, fostering a sense of unity and harmony.
Temples, or Wats, are not merely religious sites but integral parts of communities, acting as centers for worship, education, and social gatherings. Monks, highly revered in society, provide spiritual guidance and play significant roles in ceremonies and rituals. As temples are usually larger complexes, they often accommodate monks and serve as their home.
Gaining an understanding of Buddhism’s significance in Thai culture allows us to gain a deeper understanding and greater appreciation for the diverse and vibrant aspects of Thai culture.
What to Wear when visiting temples in Bangkok?
When visiting temples in Thailand, it’s important to be mindful of the dress code to show respect for the sacredness of these places. To adhere to the cultural norms, it is recommended to dress modestly.
- Both men and women should ensure their shoulders, chest, and knees are covered.
- Loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabric is ideal for the warm climate.
- It’s a good idea to carry a scarf or sarong with you to cover bare shoulders if needed.
- Avoid wearing revealing or tight-fitting outfits.
- Don’t wear anything depicting an image of Buddha and if you have a Buddha tattoo, it’s better to cover it up.
Do’s & Dont’s when visiting Temples in Bangkok
When visiting temples in Bangkok, it’s essential to demonstrate proper temple etiquette to show respect and appreciation for the sacred spaces. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:
- Refrain from touching or climbing on statues, relics, or other sacred objects within the temple premises. Treat them with reverence and admire them from a respectful distance.
- Remove your shoes & hat before entering the temple buildings. You can still keep your socks on. Check for shoe racks on the sides or follow the locals’ lead and leave them at the bottom of the stairs.
- Avoid pointing the soles of your feet toward Buddha images, monks, or any sacred objects. It is considered disrespectful in Thai culture. Keep your feet tucked away or placed on the ground.
- Overall always remember not to stand with your back to a Buddha statue, especially for taking selfies with Buddha.
- It is important to note that it is not appropriate for women to physically touch Buddhist monks. Even a handshake is generally avoided. Instead, when greeting or expressing gratitude, a respectful bow or wai with your hands pressed together like in prayer often returns a smile and the same gesture.
- Do maintain a calm and quiet demeanor: Temples are places of serenity and contemplation. Keep your voice down and refrain from loud or disruptive behavior. Be mindful of others who may be engaged in prayer or meditation.
- Don’t use flash photography: In most temples, the use of flash photography is prohibited, as it can disturb the peaceful ambiance and potentially damage delicate artworks. Check for signage or ask permission if you are unsure.
By following these guidelines, you show respect for the local customs and traditions while immersing yourself in the spiritual and cultural richness of Bangkok’s temples.
To help you navigate through the temple hopping with ease, here’s a quick guide to some important words you’ll encounter. Familiarizing yourself with these terms will deepen your understanding as you explore Bangkok’s temple complexes.
Wat | In the Thai language, “wat” simply means temple or monastery. You’ll often see this word included in the official names of these sacred sites.
Chedi | In Thailand, the term “chedi” is used interchangeably with “stupa,” which is more widely recognized in the Buddhist world. A chedi refers to a mound-like structure constructed to enshrine the relics of revered individuals.
Prang | This refers to the towering spire at the heart of a significant temple. This architectural feature, adorned with intricately carved images, is prominent in certain styles of temple design.
Ordination Hall | Also known as “Ubosot” or “Bot,” the Ordination Hall takes center stage in most temples. Serving as the primary building, it is where essential ceremonies and rituals are conducted.
The Best Tours of the Temples in Bangkok
While you can easily explore the temples in Bangkok on your own, handpick your favorites, and create a personalized itinerary, joining a temple tour offers an alternative approach. Opting for a guided tour provides the advantage of having a knowledgeable guide who can offer valuable insights into the history and significance of the temples.
➤ This private ‘Best of Bangkok in A Day’ Tour takes you along the city’s main attractions. Not only does it include the majestic grand palace but also Wat Pho & Wat Arun. Your morning starts in China town where you will visit Wat Traimit. To top it all off, the package includes a long-tail boat tour of the canals.
➤ Learn more about the historical background of the Grand Palace and join this guided tour of the Grand Palace on a half-day tour. There is the choice of private or joining a group.
➤ If you want to learn more about the other 3 major temples during a guided temple tour, you can book the following temple tour that includes Wat Traimit, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun.
➤ If you like to see more than only the popular highlights in the old town, you can join this half-day guided tour that covers Wat Suthat, Wat Saket & Wat Ratchanadda. Further, you will also have the opportunity to see Chinatown, Indian town, and the flower market.
Wat Phra Kaew – Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Located within the magnificent grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok stands Wat Phra Kaew. This captivating cultural and spiritual landmark is also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It houses the revered Emerald Buddha, a meticulously crafted statue carved from a single piece of jade.
One fascinating aspect of the Emerald Buddha is its seasonal clothing change. The statue has three sets of elaborate robes that are changed by the Thai King or a designated high-ranking member of the royal family. The changing of the robes takes place during significant ceremonies that mark the transition of seasons: summer, winter, and rainy seasons.
The intricate craftsmanship and meticulous details of the temple’s architecture leave visitors in awe. Elaborate golden spires, shimmering mosaics, and intricate murals adorn the temple’s buildings. The vibrant colors and intricate designs reflect the rich heritage of Thai art.
As you wander through the temple complex, you’ll discover numerous pavilions, galleries, and prayer halls, each housing valuable relics and sacred artifacts. The serene courtyards and lush gardens provide a peaceful retreat where visitors can reflect and soak in the spiritual ambiance.
While exploring Wat Phra Kaew, be sure to keep a lookout for an array of enchanting creatures from Buddhist and Hindu mythology. Hanuman, the mischievous monkey deity, as well as Kinnari, half-women-half-bird beings. Look for the majestic Garuda, a mythical bird, and the towering Yaksha statues guarding the entrances with their vividly colored faces.
As you wander through the temple’s corridors, you’ll encounter over 178 panels adorned with stunning painted murals. These intricate artworks depict the epic tale of the Ramakien, also known as the Ramayana.
Practical Information about visiting Wat Phra Kaew
You can easily discover the grounds of the Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew by yourself. However, if you want to learn more about the historical background, you can always book a guided tour of the Grand Palace. It’s also possible to rent an audio guide with headphones for 200 TBH (~€5,5) or hire a private guide at the ticket kiosk.
As the Grand Palace is the top-rated attraction in Bangkok, expect huge crowds of tourists any time of the year. It’s impossible to have the place to yourself, however, if you want to enjoy the palace with fewer people, visit right at opening time. The entrance fee to the Grand Palace is one of the highest in Thailand, 500 THB (~€14), but it’s definitely worth it! Currently, the ticket also includes a free entrance to the Khon Thai Masked Dance performance at Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre. There are three performances (25 minutes) from Monday to Friday at 13.00 p.m., 14.30 p.m., and 16.00 p.m.
TIP | The Royal Palace is located near Wat Pho, known for the reclining Buddha, as well as Wat Arun on the other side of the river. Making it easy to visit all three attractions on the same day.
ENTRANCE FEE GRAND PALACE | 500 Baht (~€14), which includes the Wat Phra Kaew, Museum of Textile + free entrance to the Khon Thai Masked Dance performance at Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre.
OPENING TIMES GRAND PALACE | Open daily from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm (last admission)
ESTIMATED VISITING TIME | 2-3 hours
How to get to the Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew
The grand palace is easily accessible by taxi, tuk-tuk (always negotiate the price before getting in), or using the Grab app. The nearest metro station is Sanam Chai, which is around a 15-minute walk away. The Chao Phraya River Express Boat also stops right outside the complex. Take the public express boat with the orange flag to Pier Tha Chang.
Dress code for visiting the Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew
Earlier we already mentioned general guidelines regarding the dress code for temples, however, the regulations for the Grand Palace are even more strict. If you are not dressed appropriately, you will not be allowed to enter. Trust me on this one, on my very first visit years ago I had to buy a T-shirt because I was only wearing a scarf to cover up.
You have to cover up your shoulders and knees, but a sarong will not be enough, unlike in other temples. Very tight-fitting clothes (no leggings) or anything too revealing (no cleavage) isn’t allowed either. So as a woman, it’s best to wear a loose-fitted maxi dress, wide-long pants, or a skirt with a sleeved top. Men should also wear long pants, and slippers are also not allowed. It’s advised to wear sandals that are closed around your ankles or just closed shoes.
Be aware of Scams in Temples & the Grand Palace in Bangkok
Scam Alert! Be cautious of some typical tourist scams around the grand palace. First of all, don’t listen to any Tuk-Tuk drivers or random touts approaching you on the street saying that the Grand Palace is closed for the day for *some reason*. This often happens outside of temples, simply don’t listen to them and keep walking. They will try to convince you it’s closed and happily offer rides or guided tours to other main attractions. Often you will end up at a souvenir or jewelry shop, for which they receive a commission. Always make sure to buy your entrance ticket at the official ticket window, never from somebody on the street.
Wat Pho – Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho, this iconic temple in Bangkok houses a colossal reclining Buddha adorned in gold leaf. This 46-meter-long and 15-meter-tall masterpiece is truly awe-inspiring. Upon entering the sacred hall, shoe removal is mandatory, and you’ll receive a bag for your footwear. Given its popularity, expect crowds and follow the winding line around the statue.
Don’t miss the intricately inlaid mother-of-pearl shells on the Buddha’s soles, each featuring a wheel symbolizing the concept of Dharma. Additionally, the hall showcases 108 bronze bowls, representing Buddha’s auspicious qualities. For good luck, consider purchasing a bag of 108 coins to drop into these bowls at the entrance.
Beyond the reclining Buddha, Wat Pho offers more treasures. Take time to explore the expansive garden, which holds the country’s largest collection of Buddha images. Colorful chedis adorned with ornate mosaics and Chinese statues create a captivating sight to behold.
TIP| Feeling tired from sightseeing? Indulge in a traditional Thai massage at the renowned massage school within Wat Pho. Book your session at the entrance (30 minutes = 320 TBH, ~€8; 1 hour = 540 TBH, ~€15). Interested in learning Thai massage? Enroll in a course and master the art yourself.
Practical Information about visiting Wat Pho
As Wat Pho is located just south of the Grand Palace (a 10-minute walk), it’s easy to combine these two attractions. We suggest visiting the Grand Palace first thing in the morning and afterward heading to Wat Pho.
ENTRANCE FEE WAT PHO | 200 Baht (~€6)
OPENING TIMES WAT PHO | Open daily from 8 am to 6.30 pm
ESTIMATED VISITING TIME | 1-2 hours
GETTING THERE | Take an Express boat to Tha Tien Pier, from there it’s a 3-minute walk to the entrance. The MRT (blue line) also stops a 5-min walk away (Sanam Chai) and there is a bus stop right in front of the entrance.
Wat Arun – Temple of Dawn
Wat Arun, a must-visit among the temples in Bangkok, proudly graces the Chao Phraya River. Conveniently located just across from the Grand Palace, a short ferry ride brings you to this iconic landmark. Personally, it’s our favorite temple due to its unique allure, unlike any other we’ve encountered.
Known as the Temple of the Rising Sun or the Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun dates back to the 17th century. The Khmer-style white stupa breaks away from the typical Thai temple style, which often features a prominent gold color. Instead, it is adorned with countless colorful mosaics, intricately forming floral patterns.
Standing out amidst the complex is the towering 82-meter-high central prang. Flanked by four smaller pagodas, each adorned with guardian deity iconography facing the cardinal directions. It’s possible to climb up halfway to the main spire by its steep staircase. From above you can admire the panoramic view of Bangkok’s old town.
While the Pagoda steals the spotlight, don’t miss the equally enchanting ordination hall and bell tower within the Wat Arun temple complex. These architectural gems contribute to the overall beauty of the site.
Practical Information about visiting Wat Arun
The best time to visit Wat Arun is at sunset when the sunlight hits the tiled facade beautifully. We suggest avoiding the middle of the day, as tours easily crowd up the place and the heat is at its worst, with almost no shade around. If you want to enjoy Wat Arun peacefully, we suggest going early in the morning or at sunset during the week.
TIP | For a different perspective of Wat Arun, return in the evening. The temple is stunning when viewed from across the river at sunset and during nighttime when it’s beautifully illuminated and its reflection on the river creates a captivating sight.
ENTRANCE FEE WAT ARUN | 100 Baht (~€3)
OPENING TIMES WAT ARUN | Open daily from 8 am to 6 pm
ESTIMATED VISITING TIME | 1-2 hours
GETTING THERE | Wat Arun is located right at the river, so the easiest way to get there is by taking an Express boat to Tha Tien Pier. From there take the ferry for 5 TBH to the other side of the river. Of course, it’s also possible to take a taxi, tuk-tuk, or Grab here.
JOIN A TOUR
If you prefer to see 3 of the major temples during a guided temple tour, you can book the following temple tour which includes Wat Traimit, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun.
Wat Saket – Golden Mount Temple
Want to see more intriguing temples in Bangkok? Look no further than Wat Saket, also known as the Temple of the Golden Mount. Nestled amidst the bustling streets, this hidden gem offers a peaceful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Perched atop an artificial hill, this historic temple holds a significant place in Thai culture and provides stunning panoramic views of the surrounding cityscape.
To reach Wat Saket, you can easily take public transport or tuk-tuk to the base of the 80-meter high hill. From there, a winding staircase of 318 steps awaits, leading you to the top of the Golden Mount. Don’t worry, though; the easy climb is well worth it!
As you ascend, you’ll pass by lush gardens, sacred statues, and serene prayer bells. Along the way, take a moment to soak in the tranquil atmosphere and immerse yourself in the spirituality of the surroundings.
At the summit, you’ll find the impressive golden chedi (stupa), which stands as the centerpiece of the temple. This gleaming structure houses relics of the Buddha and is a focal point for locals and visitors alike to pay their respects and offer prayers.
Aside from its spiritual significance, Wat Saket offers breathtaking views of Bangkok’s skyline. From the top of the Golden Mount, you’ll be treated to a panoramic vista over the urban landscape below. It’s an ideal spot to capture stunning photographs or simply appreciate the beauty of the city from a different angle.
Practical Information about visiting Wat Saket
Remember to dress respectfully and cover your shoulders & knees as a sign of reverence when entering the temple grounds. Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunscreen, and a bottle of water, especially on hot days. It’s best to avoid a visit midday to stay out of the scorching sun on top of the hill.
TIP | Visit Wat Saket in the late afternoon to admire a magical sunset from above and spot the other temples in Bangkok.
ENTRANCE FEE WAT SAKET | 50 Baht (~€1,5)
OPENING TIMES WAT SAKET | Open daily from 7 am to 7 pm
ESTIMATED VISITING TIME | 1-2 hours
GETTING THERE | There is a bus stop on the other side of the main road. The nearest MRT metro station, Sam Yot, is a 15-minute walk south. If you are staying in the area of Khao San Road, Wat Saket is only 15 minutes walk away.
JOIN A TOUR
If you like to explore more than just the popular temples in Bangkok’s old town, join this half-day guided tour that covers Wat Suthat, Wat Saket & Wat Ratchanadda. Further, you will have the opportunity to see Chinatown, Indian town, and the flower market.
Loha Prasat – Metal Palace
Located just across the road from Wat Saket, Loha Prasat is a hidden treasure that can be easily visited along with other temples in Bangkok. Situated within the grounds of Wat Ratchanadda, it is also referred to as the Metal Palace.
Loha Prasat is a multi-tiered structure, adorned with 37 intricate metal spires that represent the 37 virtues towards enlightenment. Inspired by a similar structure in Sri Lanka, this impressive temple holds the distinction of being the only one of its kind in the world. Its name, “Loha Prasat,” translates to “Iron Monastery,” paying homage to the impressive craftsmanship and the distinctive iron-clad appearance.
Inside the temple, you can explore the labyrinthine hallways and staircases that lead to different levels of the building. On the uppermost floor, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding area.
Practical Information about visiting Loha Prasat
ENTRANCE FEE LOHA PRASAT | “Free” admission, however leaving a 20-baht donation in the box by the entrance is required.
OPENING TIMES LOHA PRASAT | Open daily from 8 am to 5 pm
GETTING THERE | There is a bus stop on the other side of the main road that can take you all over town. The nearest MRT metro station, Sam Yot, is only a 15-minute walk south. If you are staying in the area of Khao San Road, Loha Prasat should only be a 15-minute walk away.
Wat Benchamabophit – Marble Temple
Wat Benchamabophit, also known as the Marble Temple, is a striking fusion of traditional Thai and European architectural styles. This exquisite temple crafted entirely out of Italian white marble, showcases meticulous craftsmanship and intricate detailing. This temple isn’t well known (yet) compared to the temples mentioned above in Bangkok, although it’s becoming more popular thanks to Instagram. It’s still possible to enjoy the temple’s serene atmosphere.
Upon entering the temple complex, visitors are greeted by a tranquil courtyard adorned with manicured gardens and serene reflecting pools. The main hall, features ornate gables, intricate carvings, and a picturesque golden Buddha image. Inside the temple, you will find a magnificent bronze Buddha image, known as Phra Buddha Chinnarat, which is highly revered by the Thai people.
FUN FACT | Have you ever looked closely at a 5 Baht coin? You might recognize the temple as the motive.
Practical Information about visiting Wat Benchamabophit
ENTRANCE FEE WAT BENCHAMABOPHIT | 50 TBH (~€1,5)
OPENING TIMES WAT BENCHAMABOPHIT | Open daily from 8 am until 5.30 pm
GETTING THERE | The easiest way to get to Wat Benchamabophit is by hiring a tuk-tuk or taxi (don’t forget to discuss the price first before getting in!) or ordering a Grab. There are buses that stop close to the temple, which is the cheapest way and also fairly easy. Just use google maps to check the different bus routes from your position.
Wat Traimit – Temple of the Golden Buddha
Wat Traimit, also known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha, holds an awe-inspiring secret within its sacred walls. Inside the temple, you will find the largest solid golden Buddha statue in the world! The remarkable golden statue weighs an astonishing five and a half tons and was crafted in Sukhothai style.
Wat Traimit not only showcases this priceless treasure but also offers a glimpse into Thailand’s rich cultural heritage. As you explore further, the temple’s interior reveals intricate murals that depict scenes from Buddhist mythology and teachings. These vibrant artworks provide insight into the country’s spiritual traditions.
Additionally, Wat Traimit houses a small museum that offers further insights into the history and significance of the Golden Buddha. The museum showcases artifacts and displays that delve into the craftsmanship behind the statue and its journey through time.
TIP | You can combine a visit to Wat Traimit with a sightseeing tour in Bangkok’s Chinatown, making the most of your time exploring both places.
Practical Information about visiting Wat Traimit
ENTRANCE FEE WAT TRAIMIT | 100 TBH (~€3) for the Chinese Cultural Center ; 40 TBH (~€1) for the Golden Buddha
OPENING TIMES WAT TRAIMIT | Open daily from 8.00 am until 5.00 pm
GETTING THERE | Accessible via MRT line Hua Lamphong or take a taxi/tuk-tuk/Grab.
Bangkok Essential Resources
FLIGHTS | Find the best deals for flights to Bangkok with Skyscanner.
TRANSFERS | Ready to travel to your next destination in Thailand? Book your bus or train tickets via 12go.
HOTELS | Browse Booking.com for a place to stay in Bangkok, from budget hostels to luxury hotels.
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