Wats and Temples of Bangkok (Self Guided), Bangkok

Bangkok's shrines are integral to the city's heart and soul. These edifices can impress and overwhelm even the most experienced traveler. In the city you'll find thousands of sites with decorated glass and ceramics and ornamented with complex configurations of painted gold. Take our tour of Wats and Temples to see the best of the many holy shrines Bangkok has to offer.
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Wats and Temples of Bangkok Map

Guide Name: Wats and Temples of Bangkok
Guide Location: Thailand » Bangkok (See other walking tours in Bangkok)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.5 km
Author: valery
Wat Intharawihan (Temple of the Standing Buddha)

1) Wat Intharawihan (Temple of the Standing Buddha) (must see)

Wat Intharawihan is one of Thailand's most frequently visited temples. Built during the later Ayutthaya period, it is located in the Nakhon District of Bangkok. The main feature of the temple is a 32 meter high, 10 meters wide standing Buddha known as Luang Pho To or Phrasiariyametri. The topknot of the Buddha image contains a relic of Lord Buddha brought from Sri Lanka and took over 60 years to complete.

The statue faces east, holds alms-bowls in hands and remains sheathed with 24K golden mosaics brought from Italy. The peculiarity of the image is that it is very thin with prominently flat facial features. However, as a whole, it displays a very modernistic architectural style.

A closer look at the gigantic image reveals that even the gilded toenails of the statue are quite large. Smaller Buddha images are also placed near the feet of the statue. Next to the entrance of the temple, many caged birds are available for sale. People believe that purchasing and releasing the birds while standing on the base of the statue brings good luck, prosperity and success. Many Thais, as well as tourists, visit the temple every day and make various offerings at the feet of the statue in order to mark their devotion.

Why You Should Visit:
To see the impressively large outdoor Buddha statue as well as the museum underneath and several smaller structures.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am-6pm
Wat Chanasongkram

2) Wat Chanasongkram

Wat Chanasongkram is one of the most important Ayuthaya period temples in the history of Thailand. The name of the temple means “Victory in the battle”. Built in the 18th century, the temple has a legend associated with it. According to the legend, King Rama I appointed a Mon group of monks to look after this temple and it became known in the Mon language as Wat Thong Pu. After winning in the battle of the Nine Armies, Thai General Somdej Chao Phraya Maha Surasinghanat moved his troops back to Bangkok. A grand ceremony of bathing and changing of robes was held in this temple before he entered the Grand Palace. King Rama I gave it the current name by which it is remembered today.

The temple was renovated and restored in 1787. One has to pass under a bell tower to reach the temple compound. The main assembly hall (ubosot) lies in a simple courtyard. The gable ends of the ubosot are beautifully decorated in carved gilded wood and mirrored tiles. The altar is quite remarkable with its gilded Buddha image in front of a large gilded fan with the ceremonial umbrella above. Of special importance are the elephant tusks, one pair of which is ebony. There is also a small enthroned statue of King Taksin in a side aisle.

A special feature of Front Palace artisans is the gable end decoration of Naga or serpent. This temple is also important because the containers of the ashes of the princes of five kings are present around the chapel and behind the principle Buddha image. In the reign of King Rama V, ashes are brought here upon the respectful invitation of Queen Si Patcharintara.

You must visit this temple as it will take you into the Ayuthaya period in the history of Thailand.
Wat Ratchapradit

3) Wat Ratchapradit

Located to the north of Suan Saranrom and built by King Rama IV in 1864, Wat Ratchapradit is a relatively small Buddhist temple covering a total area of approximately 2 rai. Also known as Wat Rajapradit, this temple was built for the monks of the Dhammayutika sect. 

The central building of Wat Ratchapradit is its viharn, or main chapel, called Phra Vihara Luang. Foundation of the temple has been enforced with garlic pots as landfill. This step was taken in the reign of King Rama IV when during construction of the temple it was found that the soft soil of the area would threaten to cause the building to sink down and collapse. 

Originally a place for royal coffee plantation in the reign of King Rama III, it was bought by King Rama IV with his personal money. He constructed a small temple here and called it Wat Ratchapradit Sathitthammayutikaram. Later, he changed the name to Wat Ratchapradit Sathitmahasimaram.

Inside the Phra Vihara Luang, there are murals showing royal ceremonies of the calendar year. In an illustration, King Rama IV can be seen using a telescope as part of his astronomical studies. 

Upon entering the gate, a short stairway goes up to a platform supporting the ubosot surrounded by several prangs with a large chedi behind. Inside decor gives an illusion of checkerboard pattern due to the fact that the ubosot including its round columns and the chedi are completely covered with small square tiles of grey to white marble tiles.

On either side of the ubosot are large prangs with a noticeable Khmer influence. Inside, the ubosot is dark and cool compared to the hot outside. The main Buddha image on the altar is backed by a shimmering blue mosaic of mirrors. The ceiling is typically finished in red and gold, with crystalline stars in gold rosettes.

According to an old tradition 3 major temples are required to be situated within the capital and this temple was built to serve this purpose as well. This crowded little temple lies not far from the Grand Palace and Wat Po and definitely deserves a short visit on your way to Grand Palace.
Wat Ratchabophit

4) Wat Ratchabophit

Wat Ratchabophit is a royal temple located near the Ministry of Interior. The full name for Wat Ratchabophit is Wat Raja Bopits Athitma Hasimaram which means 'Temple under the Royal Construction with the Great Sacred Boundaries'. This temple was the last to be erected by King Rama V in the late 19th century and included both traditional Thai and new European elements in the architecture and design with some Gothic influence evident in places.

In this temple compound, all the buildings are erected on highly raised marble covered bases; The Ordination Hall, Phra Chedi, the Wihan in front, the Circumambultory Gallery and small open pavilions which stand in row or on sides. All of these are within the surrounding wall one meter high decorated with glass tiles of five colors. Phra Achan Daeng, a well known artist of King Rama's period, was the designer of these Chinese tiles.

Wat Ratchabophit is famous as one of the most beautiful temples of Thailand. Located near the Grand Palace of Bangkok, the entire compound of the Wat holds a cluster of buildings built on elevated bases sheathed with marble. Ordination Hall is very elegant and decorated with glazed tiles in five different colors.

The Wihan is similar in architectural style as the Ordination Hall except the door and window panels which are richly carved motifs made of wood. It houses the main Buddha image 'Phra Prathip Warothai', an old Buddha image in the attitude of Subduing Mara and three cabinets holding the Tripitaka carved on palm leaves.

Housing area for the monks and workers of the temple can be seen on the south of the temple. There is also a Chinese-style building nearby that was used by kings during their stay in the temple. Also nearby is a storage area for disused Buddha images. A burial ground scattered with small monuments and neat paths is present on the west side. Some of them are constructed by King Rama V while others are built by royal members of the later periods. Built in different shapes, such as Chedi, Prang and Wihan, these buildings are patterned in different architectural styles like Thai, Khmer and Gothic.

Though open to the public with free access, it is not as famous an attraction as the other temples nearby.
Bangkok Wat Sutat ( Great Swing )

5) Bangkok Wat Sutat ( Great Swing )

The Giant Swing is a religious structure in Bangkok and one of Bangkok's famous tourist attractions. In front of the temple is the huge Chinese-red frame of the giant swing. An annual ceremony took place here whereby young men would try to swing high enough to get a sack of gold tied to a pole about 75 feet in the air. After the death of many men during this attempt, this ceremony was banned in the 1930s.

The red colored Giant Swing, with a height of 21.15 meters, is a landmark of Bangkok. The existence of a red giant swing in front of Suthat Temple in Bangkok is an indicator of the once strong influence of Brahmanism in Thailand. The giant swing was built only two years after the establishment of Bangkok as the new capital in 1782. The story of its origin began when a Brahman named Kratai was granted an audience with King Rama I (1782-1809) and asked the King's permission to be the upholder of Brahmanism in Siam and to build a Brahmanic temple and a swing for conducting Brahmanic ceremonies. The King granted his requests and soon not one but three Brahmanic temples and a swing were built in the same area in the centre of the old city in 1784.

The original height of the swing is not confirmed to date. After over hundred years, when the old swing was decayed, it was replaced with a new one made of teak in 1920 in the reign of King Rama VI. The swing was renovated twice again in 1947 and 1970. For 36 years, the swing stood elegantly as one of Bangkok's landmarks. After its condition deteriorated again, the old swing was replaced with one made of teak in 2006.

In the early 19th century, a huge 25-foot tall Phra Sri Sakyamuni Buddha statue was brought from Sukhothai by boat. The Wat Sutat was built to house that gigantic Buddha image. One of Bangkok's tallest Wiharn housing that gigantic Buddha image sits in a large cloister whose outer wall is lined with more than 150 Buddha images. Many Chinese statues were shipped from China as ballast in rice boats. These statues are on display in the courtyard between the Buddha gallery and the wiharn. The walls are painted with murals depicting the last 24 lives of Buddha. The columns are also painted with murals showing the early life of Bangkok.

The Swing Ceremony was one of the 12 royal ceremonies held in each of the months of the Thai Lunar calendar. With a height of 21.15 meters from the base to the top, the swing is considered a giant and is a great memorial of an abolished ceremony in the history of Thailand.
Wat Thepthidaram

6) Wat Thepthidaram

Built in 1836 to honor one of Rama III's queens, Wat Thepthidaram is a temple constructed by King Rama III and lived in by Thailand’s greatest poet. The decoration of Wat Thepthidaram is very Chinese in style because Chinese things were very popular in Rama III's time. The main compound consists of the ordination hall (ubosot) flanked by two prayer halls (wiharn). There is a walled courtyard with corn-cob shaped towers called prangs at each corner. Buddha image that sits inside this courtyard is unusually carved from a snow-white stone. The image sits on a magnificent golden boat-shaped altar. The north wiharn, with interesting gilded window frames, is generally closed. The south wiharn is surrounded by several small pagodas (chedi) and houses another much-venerated Buddha image.

The distinct feature of the temple is its Thai structure with a distinct Chinese decor. The gables of the buildings are embedded with Chinese porcelain pieces. Several old Chinese statues are present in the temple grounds. A famous Thai poet Sunthorn Phu, known as the Shakespeare of Thai literature, was chosen to serve as a monk here.

At the rear of the temple compound are the quarters where Rama III had spent three years of his turbulent life. Some of his unpublished manuscripts, left in his quarters after his death, were unfortunately destroyed by humidity and pests.

In 1977, the Fine Arts Department declared Wat Thepthidaram a national monument. In 1986, 131 years after his death, UNESCO honored Sunthorn Phu for his outstanding cultural contributions and awarded him the title “Great Personality of the World” for his remarkable contributions to mankind.

In June 2006, the Silapakorn University of Fine Arts announced that the living quarters of the great Thai poet, Sunthorn Phu, in the temple grounds will be turned into a museum. The museum called the “House of the Great Poet” will preserve the life and works of Sunthorn Phu to encourage more people to read his works.

Unfortunately Wat Thepthidaram is not in a very good state of repair. However that cannot serve as a reason to detract visitors from its historical legacy.
Wat Saket (Temple of the Golden Mount)

7) Wat Saket (Temple of the Golden Mount) (must see)

Wat Saket, a Buddhist temple and a famous landmark in Bangkok, dates back to the Ayutthaya era. The towering gold chedi of Wat Saket, once the highest point in Bangkok, is notable for its spectacular views and its hosting of the annual Loy Krathong festival. The small dome is covered with small golden squares that reflect in the sun. Due to these shiny squares, the place got the name of Golden Mount.

Golden Mount, a steep hill inside the Wat Saket compound, is not a natural mountain but an artificial one. It was constructed under King Rama III when he tried to build a chedi which collapsed because of the soft soil beneath. He, therefore, made a sturdy mound of mud and bricks to support it. For about half a century, it was left alone until it took the shape of a natural hill and became overgrown with weeds. From then onward, it received its name of "Phu Khao". King Rama IV built a small chedi on the hilltop and put nearly 1,000 teak logs all along the shore to give support to the sinking structure into the swampy ground. Finally, Rama V added the chedi that stands here today. A Buddha relic from India was housed in the chedi. The concrete walls were added during World War II to prevent the hill from eroding and the structure collapsing.

During the Loy Krathong festival, Wat Sakhet hosts Bangkok's most important temple fair that takes place from late October to mid-November (for 9 days around the full moon). A red cloth is wrapped around the Golden Mount during this event. A carnival starts around it and many food stalls, theatrical performances, freak shows and animal circuses mushroom up here. The festival also includes a candlelight procession up to the Golden Mount. Religious visitors place flowers and light candles near the temple.

A large number of 318 steps must be ascended to reach the peak of Golden Mount but it is worth the effort as the panoramic view of Bangkok from the top of old Rattanakosin Island is fabulous and fantastic!

Why You Should Visit:
Bangkok is a pretty flat city, so to be able to climb up the only hill for miles around and have a lovely temple on top from which to admire the view... is pretty great!

Go early in the morning to avoid the heat and crowds.
If it's hot and sunny, be sure to have a hat or some sort of parasol, as you'll be exposed to the sun most of the way up.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7:30am-5:30pm
Wat Mangkon Kamalawat

8) Wat Mangkon Kamalawat

At the heart of Bangkok's Chinatown is the Chinese-Buddhist temple known as Wat Mangkon Kamalawat. It is the largest and most important Chinese Buddhist temple in Bangkok. Founded as a Mahayana Buddhist temple in 1871, it was initially known as Wat Leng Noei Yi. A number of year-round events including Chinese New Year and the annual Chinese Vegetarian festival are celebrated here.

The temple is built in a classic Chinese Architectural style. Roof tiles are decorated with animal and floral motifs including the ubiquitous Chinese dragons. Golden colored Buddha image in Chinese style resides in the ordination hall. Four large statues looked after the main entrance to the sermon hall. Clothed in warrior costumes, the Chatulokkaban known as the guardians of the world stand on each side. Around the temple are shrines dedicated to a variety of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian deities and religious figures, all important in local Chinese beliefs. The front courtyard houses several other shrines including a furnace for the ritual burning of paper money and other offerings to the devotees' ancestors.

A passageway off Charoen Krung Road is used to enter the temple. The temple is a low tedious structure and the dragons can be seen playing with a pearl on the roof. Inside the temple, there is a muddle of courtyards and passages connecting various altars to Buddha as well as Taoist deities. Smoke of hundreds and thousands of incense sticks fills and swirls about the courtyards.

Wat Mangkon Kamalawatt means ‘Dragon Lotus Temple’. Surrounding the temple are vendors selling food for the gods which include steamed lotus-shaped dumplings and oranges. At the back is a courtyard with cases full of standing gilded Buddha images on either side. A small chedi is present outside the temple building as well as a place to burn paper offerings for ancestors.

Religious and culinary activities are performed here during the annual Vegetarian Festival. Worshippers can always be seen here lighting incense sticks and filling the ever-burning altar lamps with oil along with making offerings to their ancestors. Offering oil is believed to provide a smooth journey into the afterlife and to fuel the fire of the present life.

Wat Mangkon Kamalawat is a very busy temple at all times. A visit to temple is must if you want to see the spirituality of the devotees in its true sense.
Wat Traimit (Temple of Golden Buddha)

9) Wat Traimit (Temple of Golden Buddha) (must see)

Wat Traimit Witthayaram or the Temple of the Golden Buddha, an otherwise unexceptional temple, is the house of an astonishing Buddha image. Cast in solid gold weighing 5 and a half ton, the Golden Buddha is 3.98 m high and 3.13 m wide from knee to knee. Made of about 83% pure gold, the 15 foot tall seated image is worth millions of dollars at today's gold price.

The statue has a very unusual and colorful history. When Bangkok was established as the new capital, the Chakri Kings encouraged the transportation of Buddha statues to Bangkok by the Chao Phraya River. In the reign of King Rama III (1825 – 1851), a huge statue of Buddha apparently made of brown clay was installed in Wat Phraya Krai near the Taksin Bridge. In 1955, Buddha was moved to its present location at Wat Traimit. When the image was being hoisted into its new home, the ropes broke, dropping the statue. The plastic lacquer shattered on impact revealing a Buddha statue cast in solid gold.

The Golden Buddha was cast sometime in the 13th century and is an excellent example of the gracious Sukhothai style. This powerful image has such a bright, reflective surface that its edges seem to disappear, and it shines with such richness and purity that everyone is inspired by its strength and power. The Golden Buddha was covered in plaster and lacquer in an attempt to hide it from thieves or looters. The strategy proved to be successful and the disguise was so good that nobody knew what was hidden beneath.

The Golden Buddha is now installed at the highest level in Wat Traimit, an impressive building which has become a landmark in Yaowarat Chinatown, Bangkok. The old pulley and ropes used for hoisting the Golden Buddha and the lacquer pieces of plastic that once hid this remarkable treasure are on display in a case to the left. The 2nd-floor exhibits cover the history of the Chinese community in Bangkok and the 3rd-floor museum covers the history of the Golden Buddha image itself.

Today hundreds of devotees visit the temple daily to pay homage and pray at the feet of the Golden Buddha. Even if you are not a follower of Buddhism, you must visit Wat Traimit to see Golden Buddha. You will surely be stunned to see its incredible shine and splendor!

Why You Should Visit:
Few of the Thai temples have two quite interesting museums incorporated – this one does, allowing you to learn more about the story of the Golden Buddha and Bangkok's Chinatown.

It will cost you 40 THB to get into the temple and another 100 THB to get into the museums.
This is a sacred place, so your arms and legs must be covered. Be prepared to remove your shoes.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-5pm; ticket counters close by 3:30pm

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