The 4 Don’t Miss Temples in Bangkok

The 4 Don’t Miss Temples in Bangkok

The 4 Don't Miss Temples in Bangkok
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The 4 Don’t Miss Temples in Bangkok .

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Thailand has some of the most impressive Buddhist temples in all of Asia. Recently, with the opening of the boarders to Myanmar, travelers have been slowly discovering the vast number of temples hidden behind its boarders as well. While a trip to Myanmar might not be on the bucket list of many travelers, don’t fear, Bangkok has an almost unparalleled grouping of amazing temples, as crowded and popular as they might be.

Bangkok was named as the worlds most visited city in 2012, with over 15 million visitors, a staggering number by any measure. If you don’t plan your trip right, it feel like you are all squeezed in the Grand Palace to see the jade Buddha at the same time!

There is no denying the beauty of the most popular temples in Bangkok, and they shouldn’t be ignored at all, however we have some tips on how to best visit the more popular spots. In addition, there are a few temples a bit more out of the tourist spotlight that are well worth a visit as well.

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The 4 Don't Miss Temples in BangkokTemple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)

The reclining Buddha is one of my favorite temples in Bangkok, and not just because of the main temple. Its official name is Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan, try saying that three times fast! The grounds are vast and sprawling, and no matter how many tourists are clogging the walkways of the main temple, there are seemingly endless pathways, smaller temples, statues and grounds to get lost on and be seemingly alone. Once inside the Reclining Buddha hall, take the time to slowly walk around the Buddha and on the far side, make sure to pick up the small cup of coins which you then place in each of the small 108 prayer bowls, which the Buddhist monks believe will bring good luck. It is a very special feeling walking slowly through the temple, while hearing the faint clanks of the coins.

The price to enter the temple is a modest 100baht, and includes a free bottle of water (which is a godsend errr Buddha send on a hot day). The reclining Buddha itself is truly amazing, the largest in the world. The temple is also known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. Take your time to really explore the grounds, and speak to the monks you see, they are extremely kind and will happily stop for a chat and answer any questions they can.

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The 4 Don't Miss Temples in Bangkok

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Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

There are over 31,200 temples in Thailand! One of Bangkok’s most unique temples, Wat Arun, or “Temple of the Sun” sits along the banks of the Chao Phraya River and gives you a great view of the popular temples across from it. It’s unique spires, incrusted with precious ceramic tiles is one of the cities most recognizable landmarks and can even be found on the Thai 10 baht coin.

TIP: Watch the steps up the main temple as they are extremely steep and can get slippery very quickly in the often afternoon rains. There are handrails on all stairs, but take your time and don’t look down! Small children or older folks might prefer to walk the grounds or even check out the smaller temples behind the main temple, where many monks live full time.

Wat Arun is easily accessed by the Chao Phraya River Ferry (3 baht each way). For foreigners the entrance fee is 50 Thai baht. The best time to visit is in the evenings before the sun goes down as the crowds are lighter, the temperature cooler and the light more dramatic. The temple is open year round, seven days a week from 8am – 5:30pm.

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The 4 Don't Miss Temples in BangkokThe Grand Palace

Easily the single most visited temple in Bangkok, the Grand Palace is quite something and despite the crowds and the slightly odd hours, don’t miss a chance to pay this temple a visit. The Grand Palace is an endless, and sprawling collection of temples, halls, buildings and gardens, roughly 218,400 square metres (2,351,000 sq ft).

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Phra Kaew, is located within a smaller chapel on the Grand Palace grounds. Legend has it that the Emerald Buddha was originally made in 43 BC in India and has changed hands from India to Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Laos, before finally coming to Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand in 1468. It has been housed in the Grand Palace in Bangkok since 1784.

The Grand Palace is open everyday from 8:30am-3:30pm, which can come as quite a surprise to those visitors who are making a day of visiting major sites in Bangkok. At 500bht per person, it is the most expensive temple to visit, but also the most impressive. The Grand Palace is completely surrounded by high walls and the entrances are guarded by armed guards. Keep in mind to wear long pants, both male and female. While you can rent fisherman style long pants inside the temple grounds, outside of the gates are many vendors who rent out pairs of pants for 200baht.

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Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple)

Located in the Dusit district of Bangkok, Wat Benchamabophit is one of the most beautiful temples in Bangkok, and while it is a popular tourist spot, it is enough off the tourist path that it feels a bit more quiet and off the beaten path. Built in 1899, the temple is constructed entirely of Italian marble, and quite a sight to see.

When entering the grounds, which are beautiful by the way, you will see many vendors selling everything from a fresh young coconut, to live fish and baby turtles for you to release in the small stream which flows through the grounds.

The temple is open daily from 8 am until 5:30 pm. Admission is 20 Thai Baht. As in any temple always remember to dress appropriately, especially since this is one of the temples of highest importance in the country.

In 2005, the temple was submitted to UNESCO for consideration as a future World Heritage Site.

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jeffjohns headshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to forget them all.

A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh.

Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!
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6 COMMENTS

  1. Great article!

    I just wanted to note that Wat Arun is actually translated as “Temple of Dawn” as the word ARUN in Thai means DAWN in English.

    • Man, how did we miss that! Of course it means dawn, we know that haha, no idea why I typed sun. All corrected now, thanks for the note!

  2. Bangkok is such an exciting city – you’re likely on the go all the time. We slowed down a bit at the Wat Pho Temple, when we had a Thai massage there. It was quite an experience – a little different to be in a large room with many other people all getting massages at the same time (rather than the North American experience of a private treatment room :-).

    • Wat Pho is such an amazing temple, I never miss a chance to go. It’s beautiful around dusk as the tourists fade and the light gets nice. Such an experience!

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