Thailand is an incredible country located in south-eastern Asia which has much to offer to curious tourists. Out of some of the attractions, the most popular tourist destinations are its islands, beaches, palaces, ruins, and temples.
Thailand is full of centuries-old temples that have stood the grueling test of time, and are an incredible sight to see in person. These temples are associated with Buddhism and many of them house some of the most incredible and expensive Buddha sculptures the world has ever seen. Without further ado, here are the ten best, must-see temples for foreign tourists in Thailand.
10 Wat Phra Kaew
The Wat Phra Kaew is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and is the most important and most visited temple in all of Thailand. Wat Phra Kaew is built on the grounds of the Grand Palace and is a popular tourist destination due to its primary attraction, at just over 2-feet tall the buddha is carved from a solid block of jade and adorned with gold clothing.
Covered in cement to hide its value the sculpture was discovered by accident in 1464 when it was struck by lightning and split open. This temple also houses more than the emerald buddha such as a series of intricate carvings featuring scenes from the Ramayana.
9 Wat Pho
Wat Pho is known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha and is named after a monastery in India where people believe Buddha once lived. Wat Pho is one of the largest and oldest Buddhist temples in all of Bangkok and is known as the temple of the reclining buddha due to its primary attraction, at 150 feet tall, 141-feet wide the Buddha sculpture is covered with gold leaf and pearl decorations. Wat Pho is located next to the Grand Palace and also features numerous buddha images and 91 stupas (dome-shaped structure) and is home to the first Thai massage school.
8 Wat Arun
Wat Arun is one of the most iconic temples in Thailand and is located in Bangkok opposite the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. Wat Arun was built in the seventeenth century and its original name was Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan, and also known as Wat Chaeng locally. This name, however, is too long and hard to remember so this temple is simply referred to as Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn. Wat Arun has a distinct shape and layout. The first thing visitors notice about this temple is its Khmer style tower surrounded by four smaller towers. Visitors can climb to the top of the temple.
7 Wat Sak
Wat Saket is an internationally renowned temple that tourists flock to so they can view its famous Chedi of 'Phu Khao Thong (chedi is another word for pagoda). Wat Saket is built in the old parts of Bangkok and sits atop the Golden mountain, and has a tragic story behind it. Wat Saket was built by King Rama III but that structure soon collapsed. Over the reigns of Rama IV and Rama V, the temple was rebuilt over the past rubble and the golden chedi was finally erected. To get to the temple, visitors climb 300 steps to the top terrace and can view a relic belonging to Buddha.
6 Wat Traimit
Wat Traimit is a temple situated on the Yaowarat Road which is just before the beginning of Chinatown in Thailand. For this reason, this white and gold palace is a perfect place for visitors to China town to begin their trip.
Wat Traimit's main attraction is an immense gold statue of Buddha which is said to be the largest in the world of its kind. The five-ton statue of Buddha was previously hidden under plaster and discovered by accident in 1955 when a part of the plaster fell off following an attempted moving of the statue during construction and renovation.
5 Loha Prasat
The Loha Prasat, also known as the Metal Castle is one of the most majestic temples Thailand has to offer and was submitted to UNESCO to be given the title of a world heritage site. The request was submitted in 2005 and is still pending approval. The Loha Prasat was commissioned by King Rama III who was inspired by similar temples found in Sri Lanka and India. The temple is multi-story and is erected with concentric levels that are held up by geometrically aligned pillars. A statue of the Lord Buddha is kept on the highest level of the temple.
4 Wat Mahathat
The Wat Mahathat is the shortened version of its name, which is originally Wat Mahathat Yuwarajarangsarit Rajaworamahavihara and it is one of the ten royal temples of Thailand. This temple is situated right between the Grand Palace and the Royal Palace, and its placement has made it of very high importance in which most royal ceremonies are held. Within the temple is an educational institute for Buddhist monks residing in Thailand and this temple is a very important institution for the study of meditation and Buddhism. Across the Wat, Mahathat is a marketplace for tourists to buy locally made goods.
3 Wat Suthat
Wat Suthat is one of the most impressive and oldest temples in Bangkok and is best known for a giant red swing in the front of the entrance. Inside the temple is an elegant chapel which has magnificent murals painted on its walls and has exquisitely hand-crafted wooden door panels made of teakwood. The temple was commissioned by King Rama I to protect a bronze statue of the Buddha from the 13th century, but the construction of the temple was not completed until the reign of King Rama III. Wat Suthat is in the old part of town next to the Grand Palace.
2 Wat Benchamabophit
Wat Benchamabophit is one of the most revered temples in all of Thailand and is more commonly referred to as Wat Benja. Wat Benja is a relatively modern temple and was commissioned in 1900 by King Rama V and his ashes are held beneath the buddha. Construction of this temple featured materials brought over from all around the world, and the imported marble that embosses the external walls of this temple was brought over from Italy and earned the temple the nickname, The Marble Temple. This temple is featured on the back of 5 baht coins and is important to many people including powerful, top-level government officials.
1 Wat Prayoon
Last but not least, we have the Wat Prayoon. Wat Prayoon is also called Wat Rua Lek, and it is situated on the side of the Chao Priya River. The temple was built during the rule of King Rama III and has some features that draw much attention such as a large chedi (pagoda) that is in the shape of an inverted bell. Another popular place to visit at this temple is Turtle Mountain with housing for spirits and a pond, where visitors can feed turtles. Turtles are sacred animals in Buddhism. The temple is also located in the part of town that was once under the Portuguese. The red fence around the temple is made of ancient weapons.