There are over 400 individual temples in Bangkok, and a visit to this astounding city wouldn’t be complete without visiting at least one or two.
But with such an overwhelming number of these beautiful, spiritual sites to discover, choosing which to visit can be a tricky decision to make, so we’ve put together our top temple picks to give you a helping hand.
Here’s our guide to the best Bangkok temples…
Wat Phra Kaew in the Grand Palace
Wat Phra Kaew is considered the most holy of all temples in Thailand and is perhaps the most famous temple in Bangkok.
The architecture of the elaborate temple is Rattanakosin style and the entryway is guarded by two 16 foot high statues of fierce mythical giants who protect the treasure within.
Housed within the grounds of the Grand Palace, the temple building itself is known as Ubosoth, and it is home to the most sacred Buddha image in Thailand — the Emerald Buddha.
The origins of the Buddha are shrouded in mystery, but it is believed that it may be as much as five centuries old and may have originated in India. It wasn’t until 1784 however that the statue was moved to its current location by King Rama I, where it remains to this day as a symbol of Thai power that protects the city of Bangkok.
Surprisingly for such a powerful icon, the Emerald Buddha is small in stature at around only 50 centimetres tall. It is carved from green jade and can only be touched by the King himself, who changes its clothes according to the seasons.
- Address: Na Phra Lan Road, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang
- Opening times: Daily from 08:30 to 15:30
- Admission Fee: 500 THB (for entirety of Grand Palace complex)
The tranquil surroundings of Wat Saket hide a dark past.
The original temple was built in the 17th century on the site of the city’s mass burial and cremation grounds, and the memory of those unsavoury beginnings is still very much alive in the local neighbourhood today.
As if to add fuel to the fire, Wat Saket’s stunning murals illustrate graphic scenes of Buddhist hell — albeit masterfully executed.
It is at Wat Saket that an atmospheric temple fair is held during November, which includes a magical candlelit pilgrimage up towards the heavens to the top of the neighbouring Golden Mount — an enormous glowing gold bell-shaped tower perched atop a man made hill which offers striking panoramic views over the city.
- Address: 344 Boriphat Rd, off Ratchadamnoen Klang
- Opening times: Daily from 07:30 to 17:30
- Admission fee: 10 THB
Easily recognisable due to the large red lacquered religious structure known as the ‘Giant Swing’ which sits outside the front of the temple in the old city, Wat Suthat is one of the oldest Rattanakosin style temples in the city, and also one of the most remarkable.
Inside the temple compound is a vast ordination hall whose soaring walls are richly painted with intricate murals, and everywhere you look glorious, intricately carved teakwood panels adorn walls, doors and other architectural features.
It also houses a colossal bronze seated Buddha statue which at eight metres high holds the accolade of being the largest Sukhothai style bronze Buddha in the world.
- Address: 144 Bamrung Muang Rd
- Opening times: Daily from 08:30 to 21:00
- Admission fee: 20 THB
Situated on the western bank of Bangkok’s Noi Canal, Wat Suwannaram is a royal temple notable for the murals by classical Thai artist Thongyu painted on its interior walls which attract crowds of art students all year round.
The murals depict a variety of scenes detailing a wide variety of subjects such as apocalyptic images, images of everyday life, religious ceremonies, and even some erotic illustrations.
The temple and its murals date from the Ayutthaya era, making it one of the oldest temples in Bangkok.
- Address: Soi 32 Charoen Sanitwong Rd, Thonburi
- Opening times: Daily from 08:00 to 17:00
Also known as the ‘Metal Castle’ Loha Prasat is located in the grounds of Wat Ratchanatdaram not far from Khao San Road in the old city, and it is one of the most unique temples in Bangkok.
The structure of Loha Prasat boasts five square concentric towers, with the 36 metre high tower at the centre being the tallest.
It dates from 1846 during the reign of Rama III who commissioned the distinctive design base on the original Loha Prasat in Sri Lanka, which sadly no longer exists.
Unusually, the towers of Loha Prasat are decorated with 37 black metal spires which represent the 37 necessary virtues to achieve Buddhist enlightenment.
- Address: Ratchadamnoen Klang Tai Alley
- Opening times: Daily from 08:30 to 18:00
- Admission fee: Donation of 20 THB
Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Wat Pho
The most famous of the reclining Buddha temples in Bangkok, the Wat Pho temple complex is one of the oldest and largest in the city.
It is situated south of the Grand Palace, and was originally built about 250 years ago but underwent extensive restoration in the 1980s.
The star of the show — the impressive Reclining Buddha statue — measures an enormous 46 metres long and 15 metres high and is housed inside the Viharn Phranorn temple on the northeastern area of the 80,000 square metre complex.
The serene Buddha statue is covered from head to toe in gold leaf, and is said to represent the Buddha’s entry into Nirvana.
The soles of the Buddha’s feet are decorated with 108 intricate scenes which depict the characteristics of the true Buddha, and placed alongside the length of the Buddha are 108 metal bowls which people drop coins into for good luck.
- Address: 2 Sanamchai Road, Grand Palace Subdistrict
- Opening times: Daily between 08:00 and 17:00
- Admission fee: 100 THB
Positioned on the west bank of the magnificent Chao Phraya river opposite Wat Pho, Wat Arun is one of the most popular and most photographed temples in Bangkok.
The design of this temple differs significantly from others you will find dotted around Bangkok, largely due to the central tower which was added to the 300 year old temple in the 19th century.
The 79 metre high Khmer-style tower is a physical representation of Mount Meru, the home of the Gods and centre of all the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes in Hindu and Buddhist belief.
It is embellished with multi-coloured ceramic and porcelain tiles which were added to the tower during the reign of King Rama III, and if you are seeking to get closer to heaven you can climb the tower’s steep steps where you will find a fantastic view out across the river and the city at the top.
At each of the four corners of the central tower is another smaller tower, each of which is dedicated to Phra Phai the god of the winds and represents the thirty-three heavens.
The temple is named after the Hindu god Aruna, god of the dawn and the rising sun, and it is true that Wat Arun is a magnificent sight early in the morning. However it is better still at sunset, especially when seen in all its glittering glory from across the other side of the Chao Phraya river.
- Address: 158 Thanon Wang Doem, Bangkok Yai
- Opening times: Daily from 08.30 to 17:30
- Admission fee: 30 THB
Not far from the north side of the Grand Palace, Wat Mahathat is a fairly ordinary temple that is far more interesting for what takes place there than for the temple building itself.
Wat Mahathat is the centre of the Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University and meditation centre. Because of this — and because of the important Buddhist relics this royal temple holds — Wat Mahathat is highly revered by the Thai people.
It’s possible to take English language meditation classes here, and just over the road from the temple entrance used to be Bangkok’s largest amulet market where you could buy charms for everything from warding off evil spirits to finding true love.
- Address: 3 Thanon Maharat, Na Luk, Bangkok 10200
- Opening times: Daily from 09:00 to 17:00
The external walls of Wat Benja are encased in gleaming imported Italian white marble, giving it the nickname of the ‘Marble Temple’, and it is widely regarded as one of the most attractive temples in Thailand.
Built fairly recently in at the turn of the last century by King Rama V, this important place of worship features a mixture of modern and traditional Thai design, with complex wooden carved architectural details dramatically painted in red laquer and opulent gold leaf, beamed ceilings and delicate multicoloured stained glass windows.
Inside the temple is a stunning altar with gold Buddha underneath which the ashes of King Rama V himself are laid to rest, and on display in the cloistered courtyard surrounding the temple is an impressive selection of Buddha images from all over Asia.
- Address: Nakhon Pathom Road Khwaeng Dusit
- Opening times: Daily from 08:00 to 17:00
- Admission fee: 20 THB
Right next door to Chinatown, the 18th century temple Wat Traimit may seem just like many other Bangkok temples, but it houses a magnificent prize within its chapel walls.
Like many other Buddha statues, the Buddha at Wat Traimat is golden, but with a major difference — this 3 metre high, five and a half ton Buddha is made from solid gold and is practically priceless.
Nobody is really sure where exactly this valuable Buddha came from, but it is widely believed that it was created sometime in the 13th century, and it is acknowledged as being the largest solid gold Buddha image in the world.
Also on the temple site is a museum dedicated to the Golden Buddha, which features some very interesting and informative exhibits.
- Address: 661 Tri Mit Rd, Khwaeng Talat Noi
- Opening times: Daily from 08:00 – 17:00
- Admission fee: 40 THB for the temple, 100 THB for the museum
What’s your pick for the best Bangkok temples?