Temples to Visit in Bangkok: Choosing among the top temples to visit in Bangkok is not easy. All have unique stories, ancient Buddha statues, and intrigue.
It is better to choose a few temples to enjoy than to try to see them all. Traveling too much can cause terrible water (temple) burns that affect travelers in Thailand. You know you’re experiencing it when the 400-year-old temple no longer awakens the archaeologist in you! To add to the experience, read a little about the history of the temple beforehand, and mix up some other interesting things to do in Bangkok.
Although there are hundreds of Buddhist temples to see in Bangkok, most travelers head to the top three: Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun, but there are quieter and less crowded options.
Tips for Visiting a Temple
Theravada Buddhism is an integral part of daily life in Thailand. There are certain etiquettes you must follow in order to show enough respect and cultural sensibility when visiting top temples in Bangkok or anywhere. Here are some basics:
- Cover your knees and shoulders. Avoid wearing shorts, sleeveless tops, stretch pants, etc.
- Take off your shoes before entering.
- Be calm and respectful. Avoid interfering in rituals and worshipers.
- Do not eat, drink, chew gum, smoke, wear headphones, or make noise at temples.
- Do not turn your back to the Buddha statue to take a selfie. Photos are generally fine as long as you don’t see a signpost.
Top 8 Temples to Visit in Bangkok
- Wat Phra Kaew
Located within the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Wat Phra Kew is the most visited temple in Thailand. Makes sense—the temple is home to the Emerald Buddha, a jade statue from the 1400s believed to be the protector of all of Thailand. The Buddha statue is dressed in a gold robe which is changed according to the seasons by the King of Thailand.
Wat Phra Kew’s official name is Wat Phra Si Ratna Satsadaram. As the busiest temple in the country, don’t expect to find much peace inside. Instead, expect tourists to jump and pounce for selfie-taking positions.
Unlike some other temples in Bangkok, proper dress is strictly enforced at Wat Phra Kaew. If you wear shorts, sleeveless tops, or stretch pants, you will be sent to purchase or rent suitable clothing from nearby stalls.
- Location: Inside the Grand Palace
- What to Know: Wat Phra Kaew’s hours are the same as the Grand Palace: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The ticket window closes at 3:30 pm.
- Wat Arun
Scenic Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn, sits on the banks of the Chao Phraya River right in front of Wat Pho. Although Wat Arun is clearly a Buddhist temple, the architecture and murals are influenced by Hinduism. Even the name comes from Aruna, the chariot driver of the Hindu sun god.
Wat Arun is so appreciated in Bangkok that an image of the temple is minted on 10-baat coins. After four years of restoration work that ended in 2017, the temple is back to its former, splendid splendor.
- Location: Wat Arun is located on the west side of the Chao Phraya River, just below the Grand Palace. River taxi is the most enjoyable and cheapest way to get there. A ferry crosses from Tha Thien Pier.
- What to Know: The entrance fee at Wat Arun is 50 baht.
- Wat Pho
Wat Pho is one of the most popular temples in Bangkok. It is considered the world headquarters for the study of Thai massage and traditional medicine.
The giant Leaning Buddha statue at Wat Pho depicts Gautama Buddha’s last moments on earth, widely believed to be food poisoning. When Bangkok was made the new capital in 1782, Wat Pho was already standing. However, many existing structures were added years later.
Tip: In Thai, the h in ph is silent. Wat Pho is correctly pronounced as “waht poe” not “waht foe” or “wat fuh,” as is the delicious Vietnamese noodle soup of the same spelling.
- Location: Wat Pho is just south of the Grand Palace. It is labeled on Google Maps with the official name: Wat Phra Chatuphon Wimolmungklarm Rajavara Monastery.
- What to Know: Hours are 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. No shorts are allowed. The entry fee for foreign visitors was increased to 200 baht in January 2019.
- Wat Saket
Wat Saket is home to Phu Khao Thong, better known as the Golden Mountain. At the top of the large, man-made hill is a golden hole, which is said to contain a relic of the Buddha.
Climbing 344 steps to the chedi and viewing platform is rewarded with a panoramic view of Bangkok. People ring bells and bells along the way to qualify. Wat Saket is often less crowded and easier to enjoy than Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew.
- Location: About 20 minutes walk from Khao San Road in front of Democracy Monument and Safed Mahakarna Fort.
- What to Know: Go early and beat the sun. The entry fee for foreign tourists is 50 baht.
- Wat Traimit
Wat Tremit is often referred to as the “Temple of the Golden Buddha”, as it is the new home of one of the most valuable (in monetary terms) Buddha statues in the world. The Golden Buddha, made of 18 karat gold, weighs 11,000 pounds. The price of gold itself is about 250 million dollars.
No one knows for sure how old the golden Buddha statue is. Theories suggest that it dates back to the 13th or 14th century. Amazingly, the Golden Buddha was discovered by accident in 1955. The idol was covered with plaster and plaster to hide its real value. When the staff tried to move the statue, the excessive weight broke the ropes. The fall caused some plaster to crack and to everyone’s surprise, the perfect composition was revealed!
- Location: On Tri Mitt Road in the Chinatown area of Bangkok
- What to Know: Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Erawan Shrine
The busy sidewalk shrine houses an old statue of Phra Fromm, the Thai version of the Hindu deity Bhrama. The Erawan Shrine is a popular stop for business travelers. They pray for good fortune, burn incense and make small offerings. Some worshipers hire traditional dance troupes to perform there, showing gratitude for the prayers answered.
- Location: The intersection of Ratchadamri Road and Rama I Road by the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel. The nearest BTS Skytrain station is Chit Lom.
- What to Know: Erawan Shrine gained unfortunate notoriety in 2015 as the site of a terrorist bombing.
- Wat Mahahat
Wat Mahahat in Bangkok is not to be confused with the temples of the same name in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai is one of Bangkok’s most important royal temples. The temple is home to Thailand’s oldest institution for Buddhist monks as well as a Vipassana meditation center.
Sunday is the busiest day as Bangkok’s largest amulet market is held just outside Wat Mahahat. People come from all around to buy and trade amulets to help with love, luck, health, and protection.
- Location: North of the Grand Palace and west of Sanam Luang, a grassy park.
- What to Know: Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Wat Bowon Niwet Wihan
Although the sprawling grounds of this temple and school are just around the corner from the craziness of Khao San Road and Soi Rambutri, many backpackers miss it entirely. Wat Bowon Niwet Wihan can be a peaceful respite in the morning, and in the evening, it often opens late.
The late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, by far the longest-reigning head of state, served as a monk at Wat Bowan Nivet Vihan; His ashes are kept there. Many other princes and kings served the temple and were given rest there.
- Location: On Bowen Nivet Road, just north of the intersection at the end of Soi Rambutri
- What to know: You’ll need proper attire to visit the artfully decorated royal crematorium.