The Best Temples in Bangkok – Self-Guided Bangkok Temple Tour
Wondering what the best temples in Bangkok are? With about 94% of Thailand’s population identifying as Buddhist, it’s no surprise that the nation’s capital, Bangkok has no less than 400 Temples and Wats.
Most people spend a few days in Bangkok when they arrive in the country before going off and exploring Thailand. If you are spending any time in the capital, I 100% recommend doing a self-guided Bangkok temple tour and immersing yourself in the local culture.
In this Bangkok temple itinerary, I’m going to show you some of Bangkok’s best temples and everything you need to know about visiting them. I’ll cover everything from what to wear in a Buddhist temple, how to get there and what to see. Let’s go!
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- Best Temples In Bangkok – Overview
- The Best Temples In Bangkok – Useful Info
- Bangkok Temples Dress Code & Etiquette
- Best Temples In Bangkok Map
- Getting Around Bangkok
- Organised Temple Tours Bangkok
- Self Guided Bangkok Temple Itinerary
- Wat Saket or The Golden Mount
- Wat Suthat & The Giant Swing
- Wat Phra Kaew or Temple of The Emerald Buddha
- The Grand Palace Of Bangkok
- Wat Pho Or Temple Of The Reclining Buddha
- Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn
- Where to stay in Bangkok
- Self-guided Temple Tour Bangkok FAQs
- Ready To Do This Self Guided Bangkok Temple Itinerary?
Best Temples In Bangkok – Overview
This Bangkok temple guide is divided into sections. The first part gives a list of the Bangkok temples to visit as well as some useful information to read before you visit. The second section goes into detail about each of the top temples in Bangkok and includes highlights, getting there, opening times and location.
Finally, there’s an FAQ section which answers any other questions you might have about planning your trip. You can also download this free checklist, map and information sheet straight to your inbox.
Temples Included In This Bangkok Temple Tour
- Wat Saket (Phu Khao Thong or the Golden Mount)
- Wat Suthat Thepwararam (& The Giant Swing)
- Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of The Emerald Buddha) & The Grand Palace
- Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
- Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
The Best Temples In Bangkok – Useful Info
Before we delve into the best temples to visit in Bangkok, it’s useful to have some understanding of what to expect.
For starters, Buddhist temples are called Wats. This is why all of the temples in this article are called ‘Wat’ and then the name. Each of the temples has an official name as well as a less formal name as well as a more ‘tourist-friendly’ name too which is commonly used on most tourist maps and signs.
I’ve given the official name, informal name and western name for each of the temples.
Although this itinerary is intended as a self-guided Bangkok temple tour, if you prefer to have the convenience of a guide, then you have some other options to see the temples. Either book a Bangkok temples walking tour or hire a driver for the day to take you to each of the destinations.
Check Availability: Customize Your Own Private Bangkok City Tour
Bangkok Temples Dress Code & Etiquette
These temples are still active places of worship, so naturally, there is a dress code for visiting Buddhist temples. Some temples are a little bit more lenient than others but as a general rule make sure that you dress modestly.
For men and women, this includes:
- No shoulders or mid-drifts showing
- No low-cut tops showing chest or cleavage
- No shorts, skirts and dresses above the knee
- No sheer or see-through clothing
Most of the temples in Bangkok have a stall outside either selling or renting sarongs if you aren’t dressed properly. However, it’s better to wear something suitable in the first instance or to carry a large sarong with you.
When you’re visiting temples in Bangkok, and if you decide to go inside the worship areas of the temple, you will have to remove your shoes. It’s worth taking into consideration what footwear you’ll wear on the day as you’ll be taking your shoes on and off quite a bit. Take note that some temples won’t allow bare feet, so if you’re not wearing socks, keep a pair handy in your bag.
It’s also considered highly disrespectful to point your feet towards any Buddha statues. Also do not, for whatever reason, point at a Buddha using your toe. If you kneel down in front of a Buddha, sit with feet facing away from the Buddha.
It’s always a good idea to read up on temple etiquette before visiting any of the temples around Thailand – there are often rules outside each of the temples. They nearly all are active places of worship despite being open to the public. Be mindful of what’s acceptable behaviour and not disrespect their customs and beliefs.
Best Temples In Bangkok Map
This Bangkok temples map will help you work out the best order to see everything. You might want to tweak it depending on where you’re staying. The route of this self-guided temple tour in Bangkok starts at the Golden Mount and finishes at Wat Arun. You can also download this Bangkok temple map and information sheet for offline viewing.
This map shows the best route to visit some of Bangkok’s famous temples. This is the most efficient way to see them on a self-guided tour. Don’t forget to download the map and information sheet for offline viewing.
Getting Around Bangkok
One of the things that Bangkok does well is the public transportation system. Depending on where you’re starting from you’ll have several options. You could use the bus, although this can be slow and confusing, so I don’t recommend it. Better options are the MRT (Bangkok Metro) and the BTS Sky Trains. Both of these are efficient and it’s much easier than the bus to see which stop you need to change or get off at.
However, my favourite way to get around Bangkok was via boat! I took full advantage of the taxi boat system during my trip to Bangkok and walked to each of the temples from the pier.
Organised Temple Tours Bangkok
If you don’t want to navigate the public transport system, an alternate way of visiting some of Bangkok’s best temples is on a guided tour. You could either join a small group tour, book a private tour, or hire a driver to take you to each location.
Self Guided Bangkok Temple Itinerary
Although this Bangkok temple tour itinerary has been designed to be done in one full-on day, you might prefer to take it at a more leisurely pace. Instead, split it over two days and spend more time at each of Bangkok’s temples.
Wat Saket or The Golden Mount
Formal Name: Phu Khao Thong
‘The one with the panoramic views on the top of the white ‘hill’.’
Wat Saket is and stunning white mount topped with a gold temple nestled amongst trees and gardens. It feels like you’ve been transported a million miles from the bustling capital.
This is the first destination on the best temples in Bangkok self-guided tour. The temple is situated 79 metres on top of a partially manmade white mount in the Old City. The temple you see today is actually built on top of the remains of a much older temple.
Wat Saket is set away from the main road, so it has a tranquil feel to it with pretty manicured gardens, water features, gnarled vines & trees and vegetation surrounding the base and the stairs up.
Don’t miss the bit about the vultures and their relevance to the temple. There’s a display of fake vultures and a little information board next to them about their slightly macabre importance to the temple. During the 18th century, Wat Saket was the Capital’s crematorium. With that, it was the dumping ground for over 60,000 victims of the plague.
There are 318 spiralling steps which lead to the top of The Golden Mount. Because the stairs spiral around, you’ll get loads of panoramic photo opportunities of the city. The immediate surrounding area of the Old City is mostly made up of low buildings and if the haze isn’t too bad you can see right the way across the city.
At the top of the mount, you’ll find the temple, in the centre, you’ll find a Buddha. Head to the corner of the temple to the stairs leading up to the large gold chedi on the uppermost viewing platform. Depending on when you visit this temple, you may see decorated Buddha, or flags coming off the upper spire of the chedi. At my time of visit, the chedi was covered in tiny origami birds!
Because of the surrounding greenery, Wat Saket is a little piece of paradise in the middle of the city where you can hear birds singing and the breeze rustling the leaves of the trees.
The mount is painted in pearlescent white so it shimmers in the sunlight, so visit this temple early in the day when the sunlight isn’t as intense, otherwise, expect to be blinded by the glare!
Things To See At Wat Saket
- The giant gold seated Buddha at the base of The Golden Mount
- The Buddha on top of the temple (take the small stairway up)
- The tribute to the vultures and the city mortuary
How To Get To Wat Saket
The closest public transport is the water taxi (there is no metro or BTS). Take the boat to the pier called Phanfa Bridge Station. Alternatively, get a taxi or Tuk Tuk. You’ll be able to see the temples from the water taxi station.
Useful Info About Wat Saket
Wat Saket Address: 344 Chakkraphatdi Phong, Ban Bat, Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10100, Thailand
Wat Saket Opening Hours: 7:00 am – 7:30 pm – 7 days a week
Wat Suthat & The Giant Swing
Formal Name: Wat Suthat Thepwararam
‘The one with the stunning murals and over 150 meditating Buddhas’
Wat Suthat sometimes gets overlooked, but don’t be too swift to dismiss this as one of the best temples in Bangkok. Once inside look out for loads of intricate detailing here depicting the life of Buddha.
Outside the temple, you’d be hard pushed to not notice the iconic giant red swing situated in the middle of the traffic island. It attracts a fair amount of attention, most notably from people asking ‘why?’
Historically, during the Brahmin ‘thanksgiving’ ceremony which happened after the rice harvest, the young men in the area would swing on the err….swing.
Young men were challenged with grabbing a bag of silver coins which was hoisted upon a bamboo pole, in their teeth whilst swinging on the swing. Bearing in mind, when in full swing, the seat was over 24 metres off the ground.
You could imagine that with such a crazy celebratory tradition injury or worse was fairly common in 1932. After too many injuries and deaths, they discontinued the ceremony. There is also a rumour of the swing being struck by lightning and making the structure too unstable to use.
Either way, The Giant red swing frame still stands to this day, although thankfully with no seat to re-enact past traditions!
Things To See At Wat Suthat
- The intricate murals and frescos inside the temple were some of the best I saw out of all the temples in Bangkok
- The 156 meditating Buddha in the courtyard
- A 13th Century bronze Buddha from the fallen kingdom of Sukhothai
How To Get To Wat Suthat
The closest public transport is the water taxi (there is no BTS). Take the boat to the pier called Phanfa Bridge Station, you will see the Golden Mount Temple (the one I mentioned previously) from here. Wat Suthat Thepwararam is about five-minute walk southeast.
The nearest Metro station is Sam Yot and less than a ten-minute walk north.
Alternatively, get a taxi or Tuk Tuk or ask your private driver to drop you here.
Useful Info About Wat Suthat
Wat Suthat Address: 146 Bamrung Mueang Rd, Wat Ratchabophit, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Wat Suthat Opening Hours: 9 am – 6:00 pm, 7 days a week
Wat Phra Kaew or Temple of The Emerald Buddha
Formal Name: Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram
‘The one with the most ornate and opulent decoration situated within the Grand Palace’
Wat Phra Kaew is one of the most famous temples in Bangkok and to Buddhists, is viewed as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. It’s arguably one of the best temples in Bangkok.
Wat Phra Kaew is home to meditating Emerald Buddha (Phra Kaew Morakot). The seated Buddha is carved from a single block of green jade and covered in a gold and diamond-encrusted shroud. Buddhists from all over Asia and the world flock to Wat Phra Kaew to pay their respects to Thailand’s most important Buddha shrine.
Wat Phra Kaew was built for the residents of The Grand Palace and was the Royal Chapel. It’s located within the grounds of the Grand Palace. You’ll be visiting both sites on this Bangkok temple tour. Because this is the most popular temple to visit in Bangkok, expect to see lots of crowds here.
Yakshas which are giant garishly coloured, armoured, lionesque demons guard the gateways to Wat Phra Kaew. The grounds surrounding the temple are the most ornate temples in this itinerary. There are gold and jewels everywhere you look, covering statues, columns, courtyards, you name it, it will have decoration all over it.
As a heads up, Wat Phra Kaew had THE MOST strict dress code out of all the temples. I had to roll my three-quarter length trousers down to my ankles and my sarong, which had sufficed for everywhere else I was told was too see-through. I had to pinch a very oversized shirt off my travel buddy (don’t panic – he was wearing a t-shirt!) before they would even let me set foot into the place!
Things To See At Wat Phra Kaew
- The famous meditating Emerald Buddha
- Prasat Phra Dhepbidorn, also known as The Royal Pantheon
- Have a photo taken with one of the Yaksha guards
How To Get To Wat Phra Kaew
The closest public transport is the water taxi. Take the Chao Phraya Express Boat and get off at Tha Chang Pier (N9). The nearest Metro station is Sanam Chai and less than a ten-minute walk north. Alternatively, get a taxi or Tuktuk.
You can aslo book a guided walking tour which includes entry to the temple.
Useful Info About Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew Address: Na Phra Lan Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Wat Phra Kaew Opening Hours: 8:30 am – 3.30 pm, 7 days a week. However, there are occasional closures or partial closures for religious events
The Grand Palace Of Bangkok
The Grand Palace houses the temple complex of Wat Phra Kaew, however, the style of the Grand Palace in comparison to the distinctively Thai Temple is certainly more European in places. This complex is a must-do for your Bangkok bucket list.
The Palace is situated on beautifully manicured green lawns and gardens. It’s quintessentially fit for a King!
Initially built in 1792, The Grand Palace was first made from wood, subsequent Kings gradually rebuilt sections of it from masonry. The material for the stone parts of the palace came from the ancient capital city of Ayutthaya.
Only a few of the buildings at the Grand Palace are open for public viewing in, however, one of the more interesting ones is The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles.
If you are into dresses, shoes and all things bling it’s certainly worth a stroll through here to see some of the stunning outfits on show. Admission to this is included with the entrance ticket to the Grand Palace complex.
Because The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew are one of Bangkok’s busiest tourist attractions, expect crowds in their coach loads and large tour groups clustered around every open area.
To avoid the bulk of the crowds, visit very early or very late in the day. To cover the whole site of Wat Phra Kaew and The Grand Palace, and to do it justice, you’ll need 2-3 hours.
Things To See At The Grand Palace Of Bangkok
- Chakri Maha Prasat Hall sat in the well-manicured gardens
- The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles museum
- Wat Phra Kaew Museum
How To Get To The Grand Palace Of Bangkok
The Grand Palace and the Temple of The Emerald Buddha are two separate landmarks. However, your entrance ticket gives you entry to both.
The closest public transport is the water taxi, get off at Tha Chang Pier (N9). The nearest Metro station is Sanam Chai and less than a ten-minute walk north. Alternatively, get a taxi or Tuktuk.
Useful Info About The Grand Palace Of Bangkok
The Grand Palace Address: Na Phra Lan Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
The Grand Palace Opening Hours: 8:30 am – 3.30 pm, 7 days a week. However, there are occasional closures or partial closures for religious events
Scams At Wat Phra Kaew & The Grand Palace
Out of all the temples on this list, this is the one where you might encounter scams.
Touts stand outside the entrance to The Grand Palace saying it’s closed or that they can get you in without the queues – they can’t.
Some will be selling unofficial and overpriced tickets. Only buy tickets for official outlets (which usually aren’t men hollering at tourists in the street!)
Wat Pho Or Temple Of The Reclining Buddha
Formal Name: Wat Phra Chetuphon
‘The one with the prayer flags, the monks, the cats, the three big stupas, the resident cats and the GIANT reclining Buddha’
Wat Pho is the largest and oldest temple in Bangkok and my personal favourite on the list of the best temples in Bangkok. Wat Pho is also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
Head to the northwest corner of the site and you will find the piste-de-resistance, the large hall which houses the giant reclining Buddha, measuring 46 metres long, 15 meters high and covered in gold leaf. It really is impressive.
Check Availability: Wat Pho & Grand Palace Guided Tour
As well as the famous giant reclining Buddha, this temple is also home to loads of reclining cats. You will see these adorable felines slumbering about on the little statues, steps, shrubs and in the temple courtyards. The biggest temple in Bangkok, is home to plenty of courtyards and very elaborate-looking stupas.
At the time of visiting, this temple was covered with flags in every colour, it was to do with an upcoming arts festival called The Bangkok Art Biennale. Various venues across the city were hosting different events, and Wat Pho was one of them.
I loved seeing the colourful flags and the monks busying themselves around the temple, making it a little bit reminiscent of the prayer flags in Nepal.
Wat Pho was also home to probably one of the weirdest pair of statues I saw during my entire time in Thailand; a pair of legs with giant feet with an animal’s head on top of each. Very weird!
Things To See At Wat Pho
- The giant reclining Buddha, you’ll know you’re at the right building as it’s the one with the huge queue outside
- The temple courtyards and three giant stupas
- The weird animal-heads-on-legs statue
How To Get To Wat Pho
This temple is pretty much next door to The Grand Palace.
The closest public transport is the water taxi. Take the Chao Phraya Express Boat and get off at Tha Chang Pier (N9). The nearest Metro station is Sanam Chai and less than a ten-minute walk north. Alternatively, get a taxi or Tuktuk.
Useful Info About Wat Pho
Wat Pho Address: 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Wat Pho Opening Hours: 8:00 am – 6.30 pm, 7 days a week
Read Next: The Ultimate Asia Bucket List
Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn
Formal Name: Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan
‘The one that looks like a mini version of the Iconic Angkor Wat in Cambodia’
The final stop on the self-guided best temples in Bangkok tour is Wat Arun. If you squint a little and use your imagination (quite a bit), Wat Arun certainly looks like a mini Angkor Wat in Cambodia. This Khmer-style temple is made up of a ‘Prang’ in the centre which is then surrounded by four smaller towers. The temple is named after the Indian God of Dawn; Aruna.
The Prang and towers are covered with colourful and intricate carvings and sculptures, and steep stairs lead up to a platform about mid-way. You cannot go all the way up to the top. In my opinion, I think this is the prettiest temples Bangkok offers.
The central and largest of the prangs stands at 86 metres and represents Mount Meru which in Buddhist cosmology, is the centre of the world. The main prang is surrounded by smaller prangs and buildings. Take time to look at the intricacy of the carving on this temple. It’s covered in flowers, vines, faces and elephants.
Don’t be deceived by the name of the temple, just because it’s called the Temple of Dawn, it’s certainly worthwhile leaving this temple until the end of the day. It looks great at sunset too! If you’re visiting Thailand, then this temple is a must.
Two of the best vantage points for sunset shots are from the opposite side of the bank to the temple or take them from the actual ferry boat that crosses the Chao Phraya River, alternatively, take them from the gardens surrounding the outer walls of the temple.
Things To See At Wat Arun
- Main Prang (Khmer-style tower) and the ornate main prang
- The ancient Chinese Sculptures scattered around the prangs
- The Ordination Hall with the impressive giant Yaksha guards (Thotsakan and Sahatsadecha) outside
How To Get To Wat Arun
The temple is located on ‘the other side’ of the river, but a quick and easy boat ride from Chao Phraya Express Boat Dock makes it super easy to access as well as gives ample photo opportunities.
The short trip across the river costs around 5 baht ($0.20)
Useful Info About Wat Arun
Wat Arun Address): 158 Thanon Wang Doem, Wat Arun, Bangkok Yai, Bangkok 10600, Thailand
Wat Arun Opening Hours: 8:00 am – 6.00 pm, – 7 days a week.
Related Article: How to see the best of Bangkok in 4 days
Where to stay in Bangkok
You’ll find accommodation for every style budget all over Bangkok, however, for convenience, stick with the more central ones. This makes it easier to sightsee. Here are three great places to stay in Bangkok.
Boutique Accommodation – 5 * Chakrabongse Villas (SHA Plus+)
Located next to the Chao Phraya River, with stunning views of Wat Arun. Luxury Thai-style decor with an onsite pool. The villas are just a 15-minute walk from the Royal Palace and Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
Budget Accommodation – Bed Station Hostel
A modern hostel with industrial-style decor throughout. Bed Station Hostel is located just a 2-minute walk from Ratchathewi BTS Skytrain Station. A wide range of affordable rooms is available from dormitories to private rooms. Coffee and other drinks are served onsite along with large communal seating areas to relax and meet other guests.
Self-guided Temple Tour Bangkok FAQs
I’ve gone into quite a bit of detail about doing a self-guided temple tour of Bangkok. This section has the answers to questions that frequently come up about the practicalities of visiting these must see temples in Bangkok as well as useful travel tips.
How Many Temples Are In Bangkok?
Bangkok is home to over 400 temples. However, if you’re wondering how many temples In Bangkok are worth visiting, thankfully, the number isn’t quite as many. Most of these temples are small, and to be honest, do start to look similar. This article includes the best ones to visit.
What Temples To See In Bangkok?
If you’ve only got limited time in the city, then you’re probably wondering which Bangkok temple to visit. You won’t be disappointed visiting any of the temples on this list. It’s tough to choose the best temple in Bangkok, make your own mind up from these.
Wat Saket (Phu Khao Thong or the Golden Mount)
Wat Suthat Thepwararam (& The Giant Swing)
Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of The Emerald Buddha) & The Grand Palace
Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Can I go on an organised Bangkok temples tour?
Don’t want to go temple hopping Bangkok independently? Then yes, if you don’t want the hassle of making your own way to these temples, then book either a guided tour or a private driver. Here are some great Bangkok city and temple tours you might like instead.
How Many Temples Are There In Thailand?
There are over 40,000 temples in Thailand, so naturally, you won’t want to visit all of them. This number also includes several ruin sites like Sukhothai and Ayutthaya so not all these temples are active places of worship.
If you’re interested in seeing ancient temples near Bangkok, then I highly recommend Ayutthaya. It takes about and hour by train to get there, or you can book a tour.
If you’re a fan of temples, you might be wondering how many temples In Thailand are worth visiting. For start, the 5 in this list, as well as the ruin sites I just mentioned are worth seeing. If you’re in the north of the country, then the White Temple, or Wat Rong Khun, near Chiang Rai is another must-see landmark.
What To Wear In Bangkok Temples?
If you’re wondering what to wear to temples in Bangkok, think of modest clothing. The strictest rules were at the Royal Palace. However, other temples are a little more lenient – even at the ruin sites you have to abide to dress rules.
For men and women, these rules include:
No shoulders or mid-drifts showing
No low-cut tops showing chest or cleavage
No shorts, skirts and dresses above the knee
No sheer or see-through clothing
Ready To Do This Self Guided Bangkok Temple Itinerary?
Hopefully, you’ve got all the information you need to visit some of the best temples in Bangkok. Of course, if you have more time, there is an abundance of other things to do in Bangkok.
As a huge fan of temples, I had such a great time whining about the city on the taxi boats and exploring these landmarks. If you love culture and history, then I 100% recommend that you go and experience this for yourself.
Although this itinerary is totally doable independently, I get it, sometimes the idea of navigating unfamiliar destinations on public transport can feel stressful. If you’d rather someone do the legwork for you, then book a private driver to take you to all these destinations instead, leaving you to enjoy these fabulous sites.
If you enjoyed this best Bangkok temples article , you might also like…
- The Best 4 Day Bangkok Itinerary
- The Ultimate 10 Day Thailand Itinerary
- Visiting The Ruins Of Ayutthaya Temples
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