The Best Temples in Bangkok – Self-Guided Bangkok Temple Tour

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 a Buddhist, it’s no surprise that the nation’s capital, Bangkok has no less than 400 Temples and Wats. 

So with that many to choose from, which are the best temples to visit in Bangkok? If you are spending any time in the capital, it’s certainly worthwhile adding some of the more famous temples in Bangkok to your Bangkok bucket list

This post is going to show you some of Bangkok’s best temples and everything you need to know about visiting them. In this self-guided Bangkok temple tour, I’m going to tell you about what to wear in a Buddhist temple, how to get there and other information about visiting temples in Bangkok.

Most people spend a few days in Bangkok when they arrive in the country before going off and exploring Thailand. It would be sacrilege if you didn’t get to visit any of Bangkok’s famous temples.   

So, what are you waiting for? Grab yourself a brew and let’s find out more about the best temples in Bangkok.

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THE BEST TEMPLES IN BANGKOK -
USEFUL INFO

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Buddhist temples are called Wats, which is why all of the temples in this article are is called ‘Wat’ and then the name. The temples have an official name as well as a less formal, more ‘tourist-friendly’ name too which are the commonly used on most tourist maps and signs.

This article is intended as a self-guided Bangkok temple tour. If you prefer to have the convenience of a guide, then book onto a Bangkok Temples walking tour who will show you all the highlights.

 

TEMPLES INCLUDED IN THIS BANGKOK TEMPLE TOUR

Below are some of the best temples in Bangkok. Click on each temple to skip the section to find out all the information you’ll need to do this self-guided Bangkok temple tour.

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Even with the iminent threat of a thunder sotrm, the Grand Palace complex still looks so vibrant!

Bangkok Temples Dress Code & Etiquette 

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 dressed conservatively.

This includes:

      • No shoulders or mid-drifts showing
      • No low cut tops showing cleavage 
      • Shorts, skirts and dresses need be below the knees
      • 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 although it’s better to carry a large sarong with you. 

It’s considered highly disrespectful to point your feet towards any Buddha statues. Do not for whatever reason point at a Buddha using your toe. If you kneel down in front of a Buddha, sit with your back (and feet) facing towards the Buddha. 

It’s always a good idea to read up on temple etiquette before visiting any of the temples around Thailand. They nearly all are active places of worship despite being open to the public. Be mindful of what’s acceptable behaviour and not disrespectful of their customs and beliefs. 

If you go inside the worship areas you will have to remove your shoes. Take into consideration that you want something comfortable but also easy to take on and off. Some temples won’t allow bare feet, so if you’re not wearing socks, keep a pair handy in your bag.

Best temples in Bangkok Map

Use this map to visit the best temples in Bangkok in this article. I took full advantage of the taxi boat system and walked to each of the temples. You could blitz this Bangkok temple tour in one full-on day or take your time or a more leisurely two-day tour of Bangkok’s temples.

VISITING THE BEST TEMPLES IN BANGKOK
- TEMPLE INFORMATION

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Wat Saket ('Phu Khao Thong' or 'The Golden Mount')

The one with the panoramic views on the top of the white ‘hill’.

Also known as Chedi of ‘Phu Khao Thong’ or The Golden Mount, this iconic white mount topped with a gold temple nestled amongst trees and gardens, doesn’t feel like you’re in the centre of Thailand’s capital.

The Golden Mount 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. 

The temple 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.

Also, look out for the giant gold seated Buddha at the base of The Golden Mount!

Why visit Wat Saket?

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’s, 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.

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Best time to visit Wat Saket

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!

Wat Saket (The Golden Mount) Details:

Wat Saket Opening Hours: 7:00 am – 7:30 pm – 7 days a week

Entry Fee for Wat Saket: 50Bhat ($1.65). The ticket office is at the bottom of the mount.

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 Tuktuk.

Location of Wat Saket: 344 Chakkraphatdi Phong, Ban Bat, Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10100, Thailand

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Models of vultures at Wat Saket as a reminder of darker times in Bangkok
Best Temples In Bangkok - The 5 temples you need to visit while in Bangkok Buddhist Temples in Bangkok. #SEAsia #Temples #Bangkok #Thailand
The gold chedi at the top of Wat Saket

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Wat Suthat Thepwararam & The Giant Swing

The one with the stunning murals and over 150 meditating Buddha’s

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 the intricate detailing here. 

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 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 that injury or worse was fairly common and in 1932. After too many injuries and deaths, they discontinued the ceremony. There is also rumour of the swing being struck by lightening 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!

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Why visit Wat Suthat Thepwararam & The Giant Swing

The intricate murals and frescos inside the temple were some of the best I saw out of all the temples in Bangkok. They depict the life of the Buddha.

The outside courtyard houses 156 meditating Buddha’s as well as the beautifully carved teak door panels.

Also, the ancient capital of Sukhothai plays a small part here, as the temple was commissioned in the 1700s to house a 13th Century bronze Buddha from the fallen kingdom.

Wat Suthat Thepwararam (& The Giant Swing) Details:

Wat Suthat Thepwararam Opening Hours: 8:30 am – 9:00 pm – 7 days a week

Entry Fee for Wat Suthat Thepwararam: 100Bhat ($3.30)

How to get to Wat Suthat Thepwararam: The closest public transport is the water taxi (there is no BTS). Take the boat to pier called Phanfa Bridge Station, you will see the Golden Mount Temple, from this temple, Wat Suthat Thepwararam is about five-minute walk south-east. The nearest Metro station is Sam Yot and less than ten-minute walk north. Alternatively, get a taxi or Tuktuk.

Location of Wat Suthat Thepwararam – 146 Bamrung Mueang Rd, Wat Ratchabophit, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

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Wat Phra Kaew (‘Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram’) or Temple of The Emerald Buddha

The one with the most ornate and opulent decoration situated within the Grand Palace

Wat Phra Kaew is officially named Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram. Or to the likes of you and me, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It is viewed as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand and arguably is at the top of the list for the best temples in Bangkok. 

Located within the grounds of the Grand Palace you’ll be vising both sites on this Bangkok temple tour.

Wat Phra Kaew was built for the residents of The Grand Palace and was the Royal Chapel. Yakshas which are giant garishly coloured, armoured, lionesque demons guard the gateways to Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of The Emerald Buddha).

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 was deemed not acceptable. 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!

Why visit Wat Phra Kaew ( Temple of The Emerald Buddha)?

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 the world flock to Wat Phra Kaew to pay their respects to Thailand’s most important Buddha shrine.

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.

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The giant Yakshas guarding the gateways to Wat Phra Kaew, one of the best temples in Bangkok due to its opulence
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Wat Phra Kaew - it's easy to see why this is one of the best temples in Bangkok

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.

The Palace is situated in beautifully manicured green lawns. 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. The admission to this is included with the entrance ticket to the Grand Palace complex.

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Best time to visit Wat Phra Kaew & The Grand Palace

Being one of Bangkok’s busiest tourist attractions, expect crowds in their coach loads, tour groups clustered around every open area and generally people everywhere. To avoid 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.

Watch out for scams! At Wat Phra Kaew & The Grand Palace

You might encounter touts outside The Grand Palace saying it’s closed or that they can get you in without the queues. Some selling unofficial and overpriced tickets. Some of these might be genuine, but just be aware that scams do take place here. Only buy tickets for official outlets (which usually aren’t men in the street!)

Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) Details:

Wat Phra Kaew Opening Hours: 8:30 am – 3.30 pm – 7 days a week. However, there are occasional closures or partial closures for events so check the official website for full details.

Entry Fee for Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha: 500Bhat ($16.50) – the most expensive Temple to visit in Bangkok, but this also includes entry to The Grand Palace and The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles.

How to get to Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha: 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 ten-minute walk north. Alternatively, get a taxi or Tuktuk.

Location of Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha): Na Phra Lan Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

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Every surface of Wat Phra Kaew is decorated with gold and tiles
Best Temples In Bangkok - The 5 temples you need to visit while in Bangkok Buddhist Temples in Bangkok. #SEAsia #Temples #Bangkok #Thailand
The Grand Palace in Bangkok, aside from the roof, it has a very European look to it.
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Wat Pho (Wat Phra Chetuphon or Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

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 Wat Phra Chetuphon, or for the tourists, Temple of the Reclining Buddha. 

As well as the famous giant reclining Buddha, this temple is also home to loads reclining cats. You will see these adorable felines slumbering about on the little statues, steps, shrubs and in the temple courtyards. The courtyards of the temple are also home to some 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.

Best Temples In Bangkok - The 5 temples you need to visit while in Bangkok Buddhist Temples in Bangkok. #SEAsia #Temples #Bangkok #Thailand
The colourful flags at Wat Pho
Best Temples In Bangkok - The 5 temples you need to visit while in Bangkok Buddhist Temples in Bangkok. #SEAsia #Temples #Bangkok #Thailand
The temples are still active places of workship, be sure to read up on any etiquette before you visit them.

Why visit Wat Pho (The Temple of the Reclining Buddha)?

Head to the north-west 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.

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 animals’ head on top of each. Very weird!

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Best time to visit Wat Pho

If it fits in with your schedule, visit this temple either very early or very late in the day. The iconic giant reclining Buddha mean this is top of most people’s Bangkok Temple list. At peak times, queue to go inside the giant hall with the reclining Buddha goes at a snail’s pace. Avoid peak times like the plague. 

Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) Details

Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) Opening Hours: 8:00 am – 6.30 pm – 7 days a week

Entry Fee for Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha): 200Bhat ($6.60)

How to get to Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha): 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 ten-minute walk north. Alternatively, get a taxi or Tuktuk.

Location of Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)– 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

Best Temples In Bangkok - The 5 temples you need to visit while in Bangkok Buddhist Temples in Bangkok. #SEAsia #Temples #Bangkok #Thailand
You'll find cats lounging all around Wat Pho
Best Temples In Bangkok - The 5 temples you need to visit while in Bangkok Buddhist Temples in Bangkok. #SEAsia #Temples #Bangkok #Thailand
The giant recliining Buddha at Wat Pho - one of the best temples in Bangkok
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Wat Arun (Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan) or Temple of Dawn

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. 

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.

Why visit Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)?

The central and largest of the prangs stands at 86 meters and represents Mount Meru which is 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.

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Best Temples In Bangkok - The 5 temples you need to visit while in Bangkok Buddhist Temples in Bangkok. #SEAsia #Temples #Bangkok #Thailand
Wat Arun, this is as high up you can go on the Prangs

Best time to visit Wat Arun

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!

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.

Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) Details

Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) Opening Hours: 8:30 am – 5.30 pm – 7 days a week.

Entry Fee for Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn): 100Bhat ($3.30)

How to get to Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn): 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 giving ample photo opportunities. The short trip across the river costs a mere 4 baht ($0.13)!

Location of Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) – 158 Thanon Wang Doem, Wat Arun, Bangkok Yai, Bangkok 10600, Thailand

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The sun setting over the main Prang of Wat Arun viewed from the ferry boat

Best Temples in Bangkok – A Self-Guided Bangkok Temple Tour

Hopefully, you’ll agree that the temples in this article are some of the best temples in Bangkok. Of course, if you have more time, there is an abundance of other ones to visit.

Whether you’re spending just 10 days in Thailand2 weeks in the country, or a full 4 months in South East Asia. You’ll find no shortage of things to do in Bangkok. Hopefully some of these amazing temples are on your to-do list. 

If you’re headed to that part of the world, then be sure to take a look at this handy checklist for South-East Asia. 

Where to stay in Bangkok

    • On a budget: Bed Station Hostel, is a great value option offering both dorm and private rooms. There’s loads of communal space to socialise and chill as well as having an onsite bar. The strong wifi throughout the accommodation, free tea and coffee and 24hour front desk make this a great choice for budget travellers. It’s also in a great location, less than a 2-minute walk from the BTS Skytrain so getting about is a doddle.
    • Mid-Budget: Uncle Loys Boutique House is the perfect option if you want home comforts without breaking the bank. The rooms are bight and airy with air-con and wifi throughout. The communal outdoor terrace filled with flowers and plants makes you forget you’re in a city! It’s located close to Wat Arun, The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.
    • Blow the Budget: Chakrabongse Villas in a word is beautiful. Forget the high rise generic hotels, this place oozes character. It’s located right on the river with a perfect view of the stunning Wat Arun temple. Both the gardens, swimming pool and decor are visually stunning here. Go check out the photos.
Best Temples In Bangkok - The 5 temples you need to visit while in Bangkok Buddhist Temples in Bangkok. #SEAsia #Temples #Bangkok #Thailand
Beautiful sunset panoraminc view over Bangkok City

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I hope after reading this article you’re as excited about visitng the best temples in Bangkok. If you loved this post, or know someone that will, then please like and share.

If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, then why not pin it for future reference so you can add it to your Thailand itinerary.

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Becki from Meet Me In Departures

Adventure travel blogger with a big addiction to the World. An ex-rat-racer who was fed up with sleep-work-eat-repeat materialistic mentality that plagues modern living. I love anything to do with off-beat travel, abandoned places, temples & ruins, street art, wildlife in its natural habitat, adventure sport.....basically anything but the 9-5!

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Great post ideal for temple lovers! I love the picture of the Emerald Buddha temple and the giant reclining Buddha statue at Wat Pho. Thank you for sharing this. ?

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