Buddhism is the main religion practiced in Thailand, so its no wonder that the country is merely teeming with temples. While travelers enjoy visiting these temples for the photo ops and some great sightseeing, these ancient wats (temples) play an essential role in the everyday lives of many religious Thais. So, take a look at the most interesting temples you must visit while traveling in Thailand.
The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok
Located adjacent the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok is both the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. It was built next to the river strategically to help defend the palace from possible invasions. Construction of the palace began in 1782 during the reign of King Rama I, but none of the members of the royal family has lived here since 1925, and today it mainly acts as one of the most significant tourist hot spots in the city. There is also where visitors will find the stunning temple of Wat Phra Kaew, otherwise known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The Grand Palace is one of the most frequented attractions in the world that some eight million tourists visit each year.
Wat Pho, Bangkok
This Buddhist temple is one of the oldest and the largest in the capital, which it needs to be, to house the 46-meter long and 15-meter high giant reclining Buddha that sits at its core. It’s as well famous for the first traditional Thai massage school.
Wat Arun, Bangkok
Wat Arun is like no other religious structure in the Kingdom. The Buddhist temple sits right along the main artery of the capital: the Chao Phraya River. Its’ positioning on the banks may have been for strategic reasons when it was built in the early 19th century, however, now it merely adds to the temple aesthetically. The best time to visit the religious relic is either at sunset or sunrise, which is ironic enough as the temple is also known as the Temple of the Dawn
Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai
Located just outside the main gates of Chiang Mai is the temple of Doi Suthep, or Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The temple provides visitors with some of the most impressive views of the city. When not taking in the spectacular view, visitors can meander through shrines, pagodas, and more. Be sure to strap on some athletic shoes as the staircase to the temple is equipped with over 300 steps.
The hill Doi Suthep hides the famous meditation center which accepts people from all over the world for a 3-10 days training.
Ayutthaya Historical Park
Many of the ruins found at Ayutthaya Historical Park took some 150 years to complete. The city, which was the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai, flourished for around 400 years before the Burmese eventually destroyed it. The wooden structures did not endure the fires, and only the stone structures remain, but these themselves, regardless of wear and tear, are some of the most spectacular remains in all of Southeast Asia. The temples’ construction reflects both Siamese and Khmer architecture, and the ruins were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
Sukhothai Historical Park
The ancient city of Sukhothai was the country’s first Siamese Kingdom. It flourished in the 13th and into the 14th century, and it is known as the golden age. Visitors frequent the city to explore Sukhothai Historical Park, home to many ancient ruins, including the temple of Wat Mahathat
White Temple, Chiang Rai
The White Temple, or Wat Rong Khun, is a unique Buddhist religious structure found in the northern city of Chiang Rai. Artist Chalermchai Kositpipat built the privately-owned temple and completed in 1997. The temple is renowned for being almost entirely white, with the grounds housing a meditation hall, art gallery, religious relics, and more.
Blue Temple, Chiang Rai
Wat Rong Suea Ten Temple is an incredible temple. Blue and gold cover the exterior, and there are also tall statues and unique cultural structures. This beauty, rich in details and colors, is on our must-see list while in Chiang Rai. The local villagers wanted to have a temple nearby and decided to build on the ruins of 100 years old temple.
Rong Seur Ten means “House Of The Dancing Tiger”, named after the actual tigers that used to jump the Mae Kok river in this area in the past.
It was established in 2005 and completed in 2016, still, in 2018 when we visited we could see new features getting done.
The artist is a student of Chalermchai Kositpipat, the White Temple creator; thus, a modern take can be seen in between the traditional Buddhist style.
Together with the primary blue, the color pallet of the paintings is breathtaking and use unique shades compared to any other temples in Thailand.
The white Buddha statue is a beautiful contrast and at the same time reflects the blue walls, an actual show of colors.
The Sanctuary of Truth, Pattaya
The moral is reflected from beautiful woodcarving at the sky-high as if created by a goddess The Sanctuary of Truth Museum. Located on the beachfront on Ratchavete Cape, Nakluea Subdistrict, Banglamung District, Chon Buri Province on 80 rai of land, the woodcarving castle features an eye-catching pagoda-shaped structure on the top. If you look from afar, you will see as if the castle is ascending from the sea. Between the sea and the castle, there is a fence to protect the heavenly palace. It’s the work of arts by Thai craftsmen and artisans in the reign of King Rama IX. With the experience in the construction of the Ancient City and the in-depth study of art, the architectural team has successfully materialized the imagination into the spectacular castle. The concept is to have the entire castle made from different kinds of wood as the value and beauty of the wood remains long. Construction is made according to a model designed. All the floors are made from large planks. Large wooden posts carry the entire structure, linked together by the ancient joining techniques – tongue and groove (wedge) methods, butt joint, dovetails, sapped spurs and similar. The roof of the four portals has been designed with traditional decorations at the gable apex, toothlike ridges, gables and woodcarving goddesses according to the belief of the Easterners. It’s a perfect combination of different branches of arts. Each of the four portals is unique. The front faces the sea and welcomes visitors. A large 4-face woodcarving Brahma stands on the gable with an opening for visitors to see the sea and horizon.
Wat Chalong, Phuket
Wat Chalong ( Chalong Temple ) is the largest of Phuket’s temples, and the most visited. Locals and many Thai tourists come to pray and pay respects to several revered monks who were the founders of Wat Chalong, among them Luang Pho Cham and Luang Pho Chuang, 2 monks, who led the citizens of Chalong Sub-district fighting against the Chinese rebellion in 1876 and with their knowledge of herbal medicine helped the injured.
The most recent building on the grounds of Wat Chalong is a 60 meters tall ‘Chedi’ sheltering a splinter of bone from Buddha. Walls and ceilings are decorated with beautiful painting illustrating the life of Buddha, as well as many donated golden statues. Wat Chalong Chedi is built on three floors so feel free to climb all the way to the top floor terrace to get a nice bird view on the entire temple grounds.