Temples to visit in Bangkok

Thailand is a country steeped in Buddhist culture and history, and is known for its plethora of beautiful temples (wat in Thai) that attract tonnes of visitors yearly. At these temples, travellers can enjoy gorgeous sights while learning about Thai culture.

From huge Buddha statues, stupas, and ancient architecture, here are 7 iconic temples in Bangkok that all first-time visitors and history nerds should not miss.

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1. Wat Phra Kaew

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Prasat Phra Dhepbidorn or The Royal Pantheon
Image credit: @spacezship 

Wat Phra Kaew, aka the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is a gigantic Buddhist temple situated in the heart of Bangkok. The temple has been regarded as one of the most sacred places in Thailand and is where the Emerald Buddha, believed to be the country’s evil protection, is housed. 

Wat Phra Kaew is also one of the oldest temples in Bangkok, which has a long history dating back to the reign of King Rama I, the first king of the Chakri dynasty.

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Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang or The Grand Palace
Image credit: @honey2journey 

Wat Phra Kaew comprises many buildings which were specifically built for religious purposes. Each of them have been inspired by a variety of Thai architectural styles. Not only you can expect to learn more about Thai history while here, but also appreciate the beautiful architecture.

Wat Phra Kaew (Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram)
Address: Na Phra Lan Rd., Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Opening Hours: 8:30AM – 3:30PM, Daily.
Admission: ฿500 (~USD15) for foreigners

2. Wat Pho

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Image credit: @jeansaw

Originally known as Wat Photaram, Wat Pho has been around even before Bangkok became the capital city of Thailand – that’s before the reign of the Chakri Dynasty. The precise date of when the temple was constructed has yet to be confirmed, but it was believed to have been built during the reign of King Phetracha from 1688 to 1703.

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Image credit: @d.madrid.al.cielo

Wat Pho is over 80,000 square-metres in area. Besides the riverside vibes, here is where you can come and see more than a thousand of images and murals of Buddha. 

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Image credit: @_hugo_castillo_ 

Most importantly,  this temple is home to the largest Buddha statue in Bangkok, which is 46 metres long!

Wat Pho (Wat Phra Chetuphon)
Address: 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Opening Hours: 8AM – 6:30PM, Daily
Admission: ฿100 (~USD3) for foreigners

3. Wat Arun

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Image credit: @borbuakaeww 

Well-known as Wat Chaeng among locals, Wat Arun is an iconic temple located on the west side of the Chao Phraya river (Thonburi a.k.a Fang Thon). The so-called name ‘Wat Chaeng’ is believed to have come from the story of King Taksin in 1768 as he arrived at the temple at dawn (which translates to “chaeng” in Thai) after fighting his way out of Ayutthaya. 

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Image credit: @sassy.mundo 

However, the temple has been there long before this – in fact, it’s illustrated in French maps during the reign of King Narai from 1656–1688.

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Image credit: @zomzaesilly

Wat Arun is best known for its stunning landmark, Mount Meru. Besides being noticeable from the distance, the Mouth Meru is where all locals and tourists visit to appreciate the beauty of ancient architecture and take some good snaps.

Wat Arun (Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan)
Address: 158, Wang Doem Rd., Wat Arun, Bangkok Yai, Bangkok 10600
Opening Hours: 8AM – 6PM, Daily
Admission: ฿50 (~USD2) for foreigners

4. Wat Rakhang

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Image credit: @jantana.dd 

Wat Rakhang is another temple located next to the Chao Phraya river. The temple is relatively smaller when compared to other riverside temples, but it also has an interesting history dating back to the Ayutthaya Period. 

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Image credit: @khunaux.photography

The temple was known as Wat Bangwa Yai until an ancient melodious bell was found in the temple compound during the reign of King Rama I. The King ordered to move the bell to Wat Phra Kaew and donated five brand-new bells in return, and renamed the temple “Wat Rakhang* Kositaram.”

*Rakhang is the Thai word for bell.

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Image credit: @deawnarak

Unlike other riverside temples, Wat Rakhang is quite simple in terms of architecture. Although you won’t see any elaborate stupas or statues here, you can expect to be immersed in a local community of temple visitors and even get the chance to roam around Wang Lang neighbourhood that’s full of food and markets around the area.

Wat Rakhang (Wat Rakhang Khositaram)
Address: 250, Arun Amarin Rd., Siri Rat, Bangkok Noi, Bangkok 10700
Opening Hours: 8AM – 5PM (Monday – Friday) | 8.30AM – 5.30PM (Saturday – Sunday)
Admission: Free

5. Wat Bowon

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Image credit: @dn_thailand_photography

Wat Bowon is one of the first-class Royal temples in Bangkok, located in the Phra Nakhon district. Originally named as ‘Wat Mai,’ the temple was constructed during the reign of King Rama III (King Nangklao) during the beginning of the 19th century. 

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The temple’s reclining Buddha
Image credit: @kanokpang

Wat Bowon has very strong ties with the Chakri dynasty as it was once a residence for several members of the royal family, including King Rama IX.

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Image credit: @chalats 

Here, you’ll be able to spot its signature golden stupa that stands 50-metre high from a distance. Besides that, the temple also has an interesting fusion of western architecture and Chinese-inspired decoration.

Wat Bowon (Wat Bowon Niwet Wihan Ratchaworawihan)
Address: 248 Phra Sumen Rd., Wat Bowon Niwet, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Opening Hours: 8AM – 5PM, Daily
Admission: Free

6. Wat Saket

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Image credit: @thailandmustdo  

Wat Saket dates back to the Ayutthaya period when the temple was actually called ‘Wat Sakae.’ In the reign of King Rama, King Rama III ordered the construction of a huge stupa in the temple’s compounds, but the plan failed due to the soil of Bangkok being too soft to support the weight. 

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Image credit: @tw2th_

However, the plan was passed down to King Rama V and the stupa was successfully built at the beginning of the 20th century.

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Head to the top to enjoy a birds eye view of the city
Image credit: @__turnblue__

Festivities at the temple annually every November called The Golden Mount Festival. One can expect tonnes of carnival games and street food here and is something fun to enjoy with friends and family.

Wat Saket (Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan)
Address: 344, Boripat Rd., Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10100
Opening Hours: 7AM – 7PM, Daily
Admission: ฿20 (~USD0.60) for foreigners

7. Wat Ben

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Image credit: @moolgoki 

Wat Ben was constructed at the request of King Chulalongkorn in 1899 after his palace was built nearby. The temple was designed by Prince Naris, the King’s brother, and was mainly built out of Italian marble. Due to its rich history, the temple was presented to UNESCO as a future World Heritage Site.

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Image credit: @tripniyom 

Wat Ben is arguably the most famous temple in Bangkok that locals and foreigners visit for good IG snaps. Plus, you can expect to visit the Sukhothai-style Buddha statue named Phra Buddhajinaraja in the temple’s ordination hall (Ubosot).

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Image credit: @aom_praw

Wat Ben (Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram)
Address: 69, Rama V Rd., Dusit, Bangkok 10300
Opening Hours: 8:30AM – 5:30PM, Daily
Admission: ฿20 (~USD0.60) for foreigners

Must-knows before visiting Thai Temples

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Image credit: @aumahakit

No matter how IG-worthy they seem, temples are sacred religious places, and all guests need to be mindful of their surroundings while visiting. And, here are things you should know and follow:

  1. Guests (all ages, genders, nationalities, etc.) should dress up appropriately. Short skirts or shorts are not acceptable in some temples.
  2. Guests should remain peaceful. Even if you’re with a bunch of friends, you shouldn’t be noisy in the temple compounds.
  3. Guests (both Thai and foreigners) are sometimes required to pay entrance fees at some temples. The money will go towards supporting the temple’s expenses.

Visiting Bangkok’s most famous temples

Temples are an important part of Thai culture and a great learning experience for any traveller coming to the Land of Smiles. Be sure to put these must-visit locations on your travel bucket list when in Bangkok!

Cover image adapted from (L-R): @borbuakaeww , @d.madrid.al.cielo, @moolgoki 

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