It’s no secret that Thailand is filled with beautiful Buddhist temples, with outstanding architecture from many different eras. Approximately 94% of the country is Buddhist, and there are over 41,000 Buddhist temples across Thailand, with over 33,000 still in use! The temples, referred to as Wats throughout the country, typically have entrance fees for foreign visitors and a strict dress code. Read about my tips for temple attire in my blog here.
In Bangkok, there are hundreds, if not thousands of temples throughout the city. If you’re like me and go to see as many as possible, you may experience something called “Wat Burnout”, where you have visited so many temples you get burned out from it (trust me it’s a real thing!). And so, I’ve put together a list of must-see temples in Bangkok for you to explore during your time in Bangkok!
1. Wat Pho
Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is a colourful temple complex located in the Phra Nakhon District. The complex is home is over one thousand images of Buddha, including the 46 meter long reclining Buddha statue. There are several structures with colourful and intrinsic designs, Chinese guardian statues, and incredible golden Buddhas throughout the complex.
This is definitely a popular tourist spot due to the beauty and the history, so be sure to arrive early to avoid crowds!
2. Wat Arun
Wat Arun, meaning Temple of Dawn, is an ancient temple located in the Bangkok Yai District. The intricacy of the design around the temple is mesmerizing, with designs of ancient Chinese soldiers and animals encrusted in the porcelain. The temple was constructed before 1656 CE, during the Ayutthaya Period, and is one of Thailand’s most important religious sites.
As Wat Arun is one of the most popular temples in Bangkok, so you’ll have to arrive near opening in order to avoid crowds. However, it looks beautiful during sunset as well. You were once able to climb up the steep stairs for a view of the city, but that has been closed down as it became dangerous with the number of tourists.
3. Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew, known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is located in the Phra Nakhon District. Built in the 18th century, it houses an Emerald Buddha and is the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. The complex houses over 100 buildings, including the main temple, which is made of marble.
Attached to the complex is the Grand Palace, the former royal residence, which over 8 million people visit a year. It is a steep price of 500 baht to visit compared to the 20-100 baht entry prices for the majority of other temples.
4. Wat Suthat
Wat Suthat, located in the Phra Nakhon District, is a large temple complex also known for the giant, 20 meter tall red swing in front of it. This complex holds the largest ordination hall in the country and holds the rank of the highest royal temple grade. The images of Buddha and the ornate designs of the complex make this temple a must-see!
5. Wat Ratchabophit
Wat Ratchabophit, located in the Phra Nakhon District, is one of the prettiest temples in Bangkok, in my opinion. It is quite close to Wat Pho and the Grand Palace, and would be a convenient stop on your way to visit there! This temple boasts hand-painted glazes tiles, with stunning colours – golds, blues, greens, and more. The temple complex has various monuments and graves, dedicated to minor members of the royal family.
6. Wat Benjamabophit
Wat Benjamabophit, known as the Marble Temple, is located in the Dusit District, is one of Bangkok’s most popular temples to visit. Completed in 1911, the temple’s floor, walls, and pillars are built of beautiful Italian marble and decorated with lacquer and gold. The walls are lined with around 52 images of Buddha, in varying positions. I’ve been told it can get quite busy, but there was no one there when I went in the middle of the day!
7. Wat Ratchapradit
Wat Ratchapradit, located in the Phra Nakhon District, is definitely one of the most significant temples in Thailand. The stunning campus features a beautifully architected prayer hall, along with multiple large prangs. As it is near the Grand Palace, it is definitely worth a quick stop to check it out!
8. Wat Saket
Wat Saket, roughly meaning wash hair, is located in the Pom Prap Sattru Pai District. The odd naming was said to be chosen because the king stopped by this temple to take a bath on his way back from the war. The temple is known for the giant golden mount at the top of the hill, which offers fantastic views of the city.
Visitors walk up a series of 318 steps to reach the golden mount, ringing prayer bells, and taking in endless views of Bangkok. There won’t be much shade at the golden mount, so try to visit early or later in the evening!
9. Wat Ratchanatdaram (Loha Prasat)
Wat Ratchanatdaram, meaning Temple of the Royal Niece, is a stunning temple located in the Phra Nakhon District. The temple is also referred to as Loha Prasat, meaning iron castle. It boasts 37 golden spires, representing the 37 virtues necessary to achieve enlightenment. The bright red and gold tones are bound to catch your eye as you wander through the grounds. This area is definitely less touristy than Wat Pho and Wat Arun, so you can explore this temple anytime during the day and avoid the crowds.
10. Wat Samphran
Well, this temple is actually a 30 minute drive from the city, but it is a must-see nonetheless! A cheap Grab drive away is the Sam Phran District, home to Wat Samphran, also known as the Dragon Temple. Wat Samphran is one of my top temples I’ve ever seen, hands down. The temple boasts a 17-story giant, cylindrical, pink building, with an enormous dragon wrapped around it.
The best part about this temple (aside from its beauty of course) was that there were no other tourists there when I was. This, however, led to locals lining up to take photos with me, and left an audience watching me pose for photos!
Check out my other Thailand posts!
- Top Vegetarian Friendly Spots in Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Tips for Your First Trip to Thailand
- 6 Must-See Temples in Chiang Mai
What was the coolest temple you’ve seen in your travels? Let me know in the comments!