When you think of temples, the first country that comes to mind is usually Thailand. And Bangkok, its capital, does not disappoint. The city is home to more than 400 temples ranging from grandiose and towering to small and secluded.
This means that the moment you think you’ve seen it all, there’s another temple that will take your breath away. And to help you tour some of the best temples in Bangkok, I’ve put together this list of the city’s 17 most beautiful and popular temples in Bangkok. Read on!
Temples In Bangkok
1. Wat Pho
If you only have time for one temple in Bangkok, make it Wat Pho. This temple is not only one of the largest temples in Bangkok, but also home to the world’s largest reclining Buddha.
The reclining Buddha is more than 150 feet long and 50 feet high and covered in gold leaf. The Buddha is in a reclining position, which symbolizes his entry into Nirvana.
Wat Pho is also home to more than 1,000 Buddha images, as well as a number of temples and stupas. The temple complex covers more than 80,000 square meters, so there’s plenty to explore.
In addition to being a major religious site, Wat Pho is also a center for traditional Thai medicine. The temple offers massage and other treatments, and it’s a popular spot for tourists to relax and rejuvenate. This makes it one of the top places to visit in Bangkok for many travelers.
Read More: Best Things To Do In Bangkok
2. Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple)
Wat Benchamabophit often called the “Marble Temple,” is one of the most beautiful Bangkok temples. It is a fairly new temple, built in the late 19th century by King Rama V.
The temple is constructed entirely of white Carrara marble imported from Italy. But the beauty of the temple is not just in its material, but also in its design. The main chapel is a perfect example of Thai Buddhist temples meeting Western architecture. The gold and red detailing of the temple is stunning, and the overall effect is quite breathtaking.
Another highlight of the temple are the 52 Buddha statues that surround the walls of the main chapel. Each statue is different and represents a different mudra (hand gesture).
The temple’s interior is also quite beautiful, with a large golden Buddha statue and murals on the walls. But don’t miss the opportunity to walk around the exterior of the building. The grounds are lovely, and the marble is quite stunning.
Read More: Best Temples In Thailand
3. Emerald Temple (Wat Phra Kaew)
The Emerald Buddha is the most important religious statue in all of Thailand. It is considered to be the palladium (protective emblem) of Thai society and is, therefore, greatly revered by the Thai people.
The Emerald Buddha was transferred to Wat Phra Kaew in 1784 after Rama I became the king of Thailand and moved the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok. The Emerald Buddha is made of a single piece of jade and sits on a gold altar in the middle of the temple complex.
The Emerald Buddha is clothed in seasonal robes. Three times a year, at the changing of the seasons, the king or a royal representative changes the robes.
Wat Phra Kaew is located within the grounds of the Grand Palace, and as a result, it is usually quite crowded with tourists. I would recommend visiting early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the worst of the crowds.
4. Wat Arun
Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, is one of Bangkok’s most iconic temples. The temple gets its name from the Hindu god Aruna, who is the charioteer of the sun god Surya.
This temple was built in the early 1800s by King Rama II, and it is one of the tallest temples in Bangkok. The main structure of Wat Arun is the 86-meter-tall central prang (tower). The prang is decorated with intricate mosaics made from Chinese porcelain, and it is surrounded by four smaller prangs.
The temple ground is quite small, and you can easily walk around the entire complex in less than an hour. But there are a few things that make Wat Arun worth a visit. First, the temple provides stunning views of the Chao Phraya River and Bangkok’s skyline. Second, the temple complex is home to a number of interesting sculptures and buildings, including a viharn (prayer hall) and a chedi (stupa).
Wat Arun is one of the most popular temples in Bangkok, so it can get quite crowded, especially during the day. If you want to avoid the crowds, I suggest visiting in the early morning or evening when the temples are less busy.
The temple is open daily from 8 am-6 pm, and the best time to visit is in the late afternoon when the sun is setting. This is when the temples are illuminated with colorful lights, and the views of the river and skyline are simply stunning.
5. Wat Suthat
Wat Suthat was once one of the most important temples in Bangkok, and it remains one of the most beautiful temples in the city. The construction of the temple started in 1807, under the instruction of King Rama I. However, it wasn’t completed until 1847, during the reign of King Rama III.
The temple is best known for its beautiful red Giant Swing, which is located in front of the temple. The swing was used in a religious ceremony that took place every year until 1935. In the ceremony, young men would swing high into the air in an attempt to grab a sack of coins/gold that was hung from a pole.
These days, the Giant Swing is no longer used, but it’s still an impressive sight. The temple itself is also worth a visit. It features a large bronze Buddha statue, as well as a number of smaller Buddha images in the temple’s courtyard.
This is a beautiful temple, and it’s well worth a visit if you’re interested in touring some of the best attractions in Bangkok.
6. Wat Mahathat
If there’s one place you shouldn’t miss when touring Bangkok temples, it’s Wat Mahathat. The temple is most famous for the tree that has grown around a stone Buddha head encased in the tree’s trunk.
Although Wat Mahathat is technically not in Bangkok (it’s in the city of Ayutthaya, about an hour and a half north of Bangkok), it’s so popular with tourists that it’s worth the day trip. The temple was built in 1384 and served as the main temple of the Ayutthaya Kingdom until its destruction in 1767.
The temple occupies the central area of the Ayutthaya Historical Park, and it’s surrounded by the ruins of more than 30 other temples. You can explore the temple ruins and see how the temples would have looked in their heyday.
The main attraction at Wat Mahathat is the tree that has grown around the stone Buddha head. It’s not exactly clear how the head ended up in the tree, but it’s a popular spot for photos.
There are also a number of other temples and ruins to explore in the Ayutthaya Historical Park. I recommend renting a bike so you can easily get around to the different temples.
7. Wat Traimit
Wat Traimit is located in Chinatown and is most famous for its Golden Buddha statue. The statue is 3.98 meters tall and 3.13 meters wide (from knee to knee) and is made of solid gold. It is the largest solid gold statue in the world and is estimated to be worth over $250 million.
The statue dates back to the 13th century and was covered in plaster at some point to hide it from invaders. It was only rediscovered in 1955 when it was being moved, and the plaster cracked, revealing the gold beneath.
The statue is now on display in a temple hall that was purpose-built for it. The hall is air-conditioned to protect the statue from the elements, and there is a small museum on-site with information about the history of the statue and how it was found.
The museum also has exhibits on the history of Chinatown and how it has changed over the years. Wat Traimit is a fairly small temple, but it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.
8. Wat Saket
Wat Saket, or the Golden Mount, is a temple complex that sits on top of a man-made hill in Bangkok. The temple was first built in the Ayutthaya period, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that the modern complex was built.
To reach the temple, you have to climb 318 steps. It’s not an easy climb, but manageable. And once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with great views of Bangkok.
The temple complex itself is quite small, but it’s very pretty. The main temples are gold-plated, and there are a few smaller temples and shrines.
In November, Wat Saket hosts a huge festival called the Golden Mount Fair. The fair lasts for a week. And during that time, there are all sorts of fun activities, including a beauty pageant, a food fair, and a light and sound show.
A tour of Wat Saket is a great way to get a feel for Bangkok’s temples while also getting some exercise. And if you visit during the fair, you’ll get to experience a bit of Thai culture as well.
9. Wat Kalayanamit
This temple is often overlooked by tourists, but it’s well worth a visit. Wat Kalayanamit was built in 1825 and is located on the Thonburi side of Bangkok (across the Chao Phraya River from the main tourist area).
The temple complex is huge and filled with beautiful temples, pagodas, and gardens. But the main attraction is the golden Buddha image in Palilai’s posture. In fact, this is the only temple in Thailand where you can see a Buddha in this posture. The Palilai posture is one of meditation, and it’s said to represent the Buddha’s deep concentration while he was seeking enlightenment.
There are also mural paintings inside the temples depicting the life of the Buddha. And don’t forget to visit the Buddhist library, which has a collection of over 10,000 books. This is where you can really learn about the history and culture of Thailand.
A trip to this temple is one of the best things to do in Bangkok if you want to escape the crowds and get a taste of Thai Buddhist culture.
10. Wat Mahathat (Bangok)
Don’t confuse Wat Mahathat in Bangkok with Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya. I have talked about Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya already, which is one of the most popular temples in Thailand. Wat Mahathat in Bangkok is also a very popular temple, but for different reasons.
Built in the same era as Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya, Wat Mahathat in Bangkok was used as the royal venue for important ceremonies and funerals. This was due to its proximity to the Grand Palace, and it was known as Was Salak at that time.
Today, Wat Mahathat is best known for its collection of Buddha images, which are some of the most beautiful in Bangkok. The temple is also home to the largest ordination hall in Thailand, and it’s a popular spot for monks to come and study.
You can easily spend a couple of hours exploring Wat Mahathat, and I recommend getting there early in the day to avoid the crowds. And being one of the famous temples in Bangkok, it’s definitely worth a visit.
11. Wat Intharawihan
Wat Intharawihan is a temple in Bangkok that’s known for its giant standing Buddha. The Buddha is 32 meters tall and one of the tallest in Bangkok.
The temple was built in the mid-19th century during the reign of King Rama IV. It’s a relatively new temple, but it’s already become one of the most popular in Bangkok.
In addition to the giant Buddha, the temple’s interior features lavishly gilded window shutters, elevated murals on the walls, and a collection of Buddha images.
There is also a lifelike model of Luang Phaw Toh located on the grounds of the temple. Luang Phaw Toh was a monk who is said to have had magical powers. Also, take your time to admire the unusually carved stones located around the temple.
There is a lot to see here that you could easily spend a couple of hours exploring the temples. I spent about two hours here, and I was able to see everything at a leisurely pace.
12. Wat Suwannaram
Wat Suwannaram is not your typical Bangkok temple. Initially known as Wat Thong, the temple served as an execution ground during the Burma war. And after the war, it was used as a crematorium for the royal family. It was then turned into a temple during the reign of King Rama I in the late 1700s.
Today, Wat Suwannaram is a beautiful temple with an elegant design that is distinctly different from other temples in Bangkok. The main temple is inspired by early Rattanakosin architecture, which is characterized by its ornate decorations. But the highlight of the temple is the giant golden Buddha that sits in the main hall. The hall’s ceiling and walls are also covered in red murals, which add to the temple’s opulent feel.
When you’re done exploring the temples, you can stroll around the temple grounds and admire the beautiful architecture or feed the fish in the temple’s pond.
13. Wat Benjamabhopit
Wat Benjamabhopit, more commonly known as the Marble Temple, is another of Bangkok’s must-see temples. The temple is made entirely of white Carrara marble, and it’s one of the most beautiful temples in Bangkok.
Construction of the temple began in 1899 under the order of King Rama V. Its best known for its beautiful white marble exterior and Multi-tiered roofs. The interior of the temple is just as beautiful as the exterior. You’ll find paintings of different important Thai stupas, as well as a large Sukhothai-style Buddha statue.
After exploring the main, I recommend taking a walk around the cloistered courtyard which is outside the main temple building. This courtyard is home to 52 Buddha statues, each different in style.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Wat Benjamabhopit is embossed on the back of 5 baht coins? This makes it one of the famous attractions in Bangkok you can’t miss.
14. Wat Prayoon
Let’s now explore one of Bangkok’s more unique temples, Wat Prayoon. This temple was built in the early 19th century by King Rama III and is known for its Ayutthaya-style white chedi. This chedi is quite different from the more common bell-shaped chedi that you’ll see at most temples. And at 80 meters high, it’s one of the tallest chedis in Bangkok.
The temple grounds are quite small, but there’s a lot to see. There are a number of different buildings, including a viharn (prayer hall) and ubosot (ordination hall). There’s also a large pond, which is filled with turtles.
Some people believe the turtles are considered to be good luck. And it is said that if you make a wish and release one of the turtles into the pond, your wish will come true. I didn’t have a chance to release a tortoise myself, but I did enjoy feeding them. They were friendly and came right up to the pond’s edge to eat the food I was offering them.
15. Wat Bowonniwet Vihara
Next on this list of the best temples in Bangkok is Wat Bowonniwet Vihara, founded in 1824 by King Rama III. This is an important temple for Bangkok’s royal family, as it’s where King Rama VI and King Rama IX were buried.
But before Wat Bowonniwet Vihara came to be, two other temples occupied the site, separated by a canal: Wat Bowon and Was Rangsi Sutthawat. They were later combined into one temple by King Rama III.
The first thing you’ll notice when you enter the temple complex is the majestic 160-foot-tall golden chedi. This is where the ashes of Thai Kings are enshrined. Another highlight of the temple is the ordination hall, which houses 19th-century murals that tell the story of Buddhism.
You can also see a number of statues around the temple complex, which is a great place to learn about Thai history and culture.
16. Sri Mahamariamman Temple
Many temples in Bangkok are Thai Buddhist temples. However, there are also a number of Hindu temples. And one of the most popular is the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, located in the Chinatown neighborhood.
The Sri Mahamariamman Temple is a colorful Hindu temple that was built in 1873 by Indian immigrants. The main deity of the temple is the Hindu goddess Mariamman, who is associated with healing and protection.
The exterior of the temple is covered in brightly colored shapes and figures. There is also a 6-meters tall gopura (gate tower) at the entrance. The gopura is decorated with depictions of Hindu gods and scenes from Indian mythology.
The interior of the temple is just as colorful as the exterior, featuring three shrines and the main hall. The temple is also home to a number of other Hindu deities, including Ganesh, Shiva, and Vishnu.
If you want to pay your respects at the temple, you can purchase flowers and incense at the entrance. You can also make a donation to the temple.
17. Loha Prasat
You’ll never see a temple quite like Loha Prasat in Bangkok. The temple, which was built in 1846, is made up of 37 glittering spires and is one of the only temples of its kind in the world.
Loha Prasat is an Indian name that means a building with metal pinnacles. And that’s exactly what the temple is. The 37 metal spires are made of metal, and they shine brightly in the sun.
The temple was built by King Rama III, and it’s said that he was inspired by a similar temple he saw in India and Sri Lanka. This unique architecture is what attracts so many tourists. And for this reason, it was submitted to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.
You can also tour the interior of the temple, where you’ll find a number of statues and murals. The temple is still an active place of worship, so you may see some monks praying or doing other religious activities.
And being one of the best things to see in Bangkok, don’t forget to take plenty of photos as you explore this unique temple.
You’ll never run out of temples to see in Bangkok. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, there’s another temple that will take your breath away. So whether you’re looking for historical temples, temples with unique architecture, or temples that are still active places of worship, you’ll find them all in Bangkok. So pick a few from this list and start exploration.