12 Temples in Bangkok You Should Know About
There are over 40,000 temples spread right across Thailand, of which more than 400 are located right in Bangkok. If you hadn’t figured, Thailand is a very religious country with about 92 per cent of the population following Buddhism.
To truly understand Thailand’s culture, you need to visit a few temples, and there is no better place to start than in Bangkok.
While many first-time tourists rush to Bangkok’s top temples like Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Arun, there is obviously plenty more to see. But where do we start?
I’ve compiled a list of 12 temples in Bangkok that you really should know about. This includes popular temples like Wat Phra Kaew to the lesser known such as Wat Chakrawat with live crocodiles.
- Bangkok Temples Map
- Amazing Temples in Bangkok
- 1. Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
- 2. Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
- 3. Wat Bowon Niwet Vihara
- 4. Wat Phra Kaew (The Temple of the Emerald Buhhda)
- 5. Wat Saket (Golden Mountain)
- 6. Wat Ratchanatdaram (Loha Prasart)
- 7. Wat Traimit (Golden Buddha Temple)
- 8. Wat Benjamabhopit (Marble Temple)
- 9. Wat Chakrawat (Crocodile Temple)
- 10. Wat Suwannaram
- 11. Wat Rakhang Khositaram (Temple of the Bells)
- 12. Wat Mahathat (Temple of the Great Relic)
- What to Wear to a Temple in Bangkok
- Bangkok, What’s Next?
Bangkok Temples Map
This map of Bangkok’s temples will help you plan out your journey around town. All the temples listed here are within an approximate 2.5km radius of Bangkok’s old centre (i.e. Khao Sarn Road area).
Now, I’m not suggesting that you visit all these temples, that’d be a bit overkill. But you could easily visit 4 or 5 Bangkok temples in one day by simply walking around town.
Amazing Temples in Bangkok
1. Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Wat Arun is one of Thailand’s most iconic temples, perhaps only beaten in awe by the White Temple in Chiang Rai. Wat Arun is located right along the banks of the Chao Praya River, and just across the water from The Grand Palace. The view looking across the river at sunset is one you cannot miss.
Up close, Wat Arun is covered in intricate decorations from the ground right up to the top of the spire. The stairway us is steep, so take care as you climb. The top level of Wat Arun also gives an impressive view of the old Bangkok neighbourhood of Pra Nakhon.
Wat Arun is open daily from 8.30am to 5.30pm. Entry is 100 THB (USD 4) per person.
2. Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Wat Pho is probably one of the first temples in Bangkok you will come across. This temple is commonly known as The Temple of the Reclining Buddha, and you guessed it, there is a huge Buddha in the lying down in here. The Buddha statue is 15 meters tall, 46 meters long and completely covered in gold leaf.
Wat Pho is an easy 10-minute walk from Wat Phra Kaew (The Grand Palace) and isn’t quite as busy, though still a very popular attraction. Tip: It is also one of the most famous places in Bangkok to get a foot massage.
Wat Pho opening times are daily from am to 5pm. Entry is 100 THB (USD 4) per person.
3. Wat Bowon Niwet Vihara
Wat Bowon Niwet Vihara is one of Thailand’s most important temples and is referred to as a “First Class Royal Temple.” The ashes of many Thai Royal Family members and their relics are kept in the shrine here, including those of the recent King Rama IX who passed away in 2016.
The temple is a short 5-minute walk from Khao Sarn Road. You won’t find nearly as many foreign tourists here, however during the Songkran (Thai New Year) period this temple can be very busy. If you’re looking for free temples in Bangkok, then start here!
Wat Bowon Niwet Vihara is open daily from 6am to 6pm. Entry is free.
4. Wat Phra Kaew (The Temple of the Emerald Buhhda)
Wat Phra Kaew is just as commonly referred to as the temple of the Emerald Buddha. This is the most iconic building in the complex known as The Grand Palace and also regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand.
The temple houses the Emerald Buddha which is in a traditional Lanna (Northern Thai) design and dates right back to the 15th century. No one is allowed anywhere near it except for the King of Thailand.
Wat Phra Kaew was built back in 1785 and has served as the home of the King of Thailand for over 150 years. The Grand Palace complex has also had other important buildings inside its grounds such as the Thai mint.
Tip: watch out for the scammers out the front who will tell you “the temple is closed today” trick. This is the tuk-tuk mafia, and they will try to take you on an expensive trip around town to their mate’s jewellery and clothing stores.
Wat Phra Kaew opening times are daily from 8.30am to 3.30pm. Entry is 500 THB (USD 20) per person.
5. Wat Saket (Golden Mountain)
Wat Saket is commonly referred to as the Golden Mountain. It is located an easy walking distance from Khao Sarn Road which makes it one of Bangkok’s most popular temples for backpackers. The temple is located 300 stairs up on a small man-made mountain. There is an impressive bright gold chedi on built right on the top, and a great view looking out over Bangkok’s old quarter.
During November when the Thais celebrate Loy Krathong, Wat Saket really comes to life with a huge temple festival. The gold chedi is dressed in a huge red cloth, the pathway to the top is lined with candles and decorated with lots of lanterns. It is a must-see during the Loy Krathong Festival.
Wat Saket is open daily from 9am to 5.30pm. Entry is free.
6. Wat Ratchanatdaram (Loha Prasart)
Loha Prasart is located just a 5-minute walk from Khao Sarn Road, and right across the road from Wat Saket. Although close to many other popular attractions, hardly anyone seems to talk about this Bangkok temple.
Loha Prasart is modeled on an ancient Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. There were only ever three temples of this style built around the world, and this is the only one still standing today.
Loha Prasart is open from 8.30am to 6pm daily. Entry is 20 THB (USD 0.80) per person.
7. Wat Traimit (Golden Buddha Temple)
Wat Traimit contains the world’s largest solid gold Buddha statue. It weighs over 5.5 tonnes, that’s a whole lot of gold! What’s even crazier is that this golden Buddha statue was discovered by accident when it was being moved and dropped, which cracked the plaster covering it at the time (hiding it from Burmese invaders in the past). There is a bit more information about this in the small museum located in the same building.
This Bangkok temple is located just down the end of Yaworat (Chinatown) and is best visited before you venture on for an epic afternoon of street food.
Wat Traimit is open daily from 9am to 5pm. Entry is free, and it is 10 THB (USD 0.30) to visit the small museum halfway up.
8. Wat Benjamabhopit (Marble Temple)
Wat Benjamabhopit is super photogenic and therefore one of the best temples in Bangkok. It is decorated in bright white marble, apparently imported all the way from Italy, and is constructed with those high gables (triangular roof) so iconic of Thailand.
The temple is located a bit further out of town in the Dusit district. The 2.5km walk from Khao Sarn Road will take about 30 minutes. If it is a hot day then consider hoping in a tuk-tuk or taxi, the far one way should not be any more than 60 THB (USD 2).
Wat Benjamabhopit is open daily from 8am to 5.30pm. Entry is 20 THB (USD 0.80) per person.
9. Wat Chakrawat (Crocodile Temple)
Wat Chakrawat is probably one of the quirkiest temples around Bangkok with three live crocodiles living on the premises. No one really seems to know why the crocodiles live here rather than the zoo. The temple is also home to one of the largest communities of monks in Bangkok. If you want to have a chat with a practising monk, then this may be your chance.
The temple is located to the west of Chinatown. It could easily be visited along the way to Wat Traimit followed up by a street food feast at Chinatown afterwards.
Wat Chakrawat is open daily from 8am to 5pm. Entry is free.
10. Wat Suwannaram
This temple is located a bit further out of the old town on the west side of the Chao Praya River. It is actually along the banks of the Bangkok Noi Canal walking distance from the Wang Lang Market.
While the temple itself isn’t a hugely impressive structure, you will find a load of classic Thai murals across the walls which is the main reason for visiting Wat Suwannaram. These original paintings date back to the 19th Century.
You will find the area around here is quite local and without many tourists. Just walking through the streets is a good way to see an authentic Bangkok neighbourhood that many others won’t get to experience.
Wat Suwannaram is open daily from 8am to 5pm. Entry is free.
11. Wat Rakhang Khositaram (Temple of the Bells)
Wat Rakhang Khositaram is located along the west banks of the Chao Praya River and is right beside the popular Wang Lang Market. The temple is also an easy 10-minute walk north of Wat Arun. It is well worth a quick visit if you want to see a less touristy yet ancient temple in Bangkok.
Wat Rakang is open daily from 8am to 5pm. Entry is free.
12. Wat Mahathat (Temple of the Great Relic)
This temple has been known by many different names over the years, however, it is finally referred to as Wat Mahathat.
Vipassana Meditation courses are taught here daily from 7am-10am, 1pm-4pm, and 6pm-8pm. There are both English and Thai speaking monks, so you can learn to meditate here even as a foreigner. Meditation classes are free; however it is generally expected that a donation is made (i.e. 100 THB, roughly USD 4).
Perhaps you have seen people selling small amulets along the street in Bangkok. Well, right next door to Wat Mahathat every Sunday is Bangkok’s largest amulet market. You will find hundreds of locals closely examining these amulets with magnifying glasses and handing over wads of cash.
Wat Mahathat is open daily from 7am to 5pm. Entry is free.
What to Wear to a Temple in Bangkok
Remember to dress appropriately when visiting temples in Thailand. That means clothing covering your knees and shoulders. While some temples may offer longer pants for tourists, it is best to dress well prepared.
You are also expected to remove your shoes and leave them at the entrance of the temple. Don’t worry, no one will steal them at a temple. If you are visiting multiple temples in one day then you might consider shoes which can slide on/off or flip-flops.
Bangkok, What’s Next?
After visiting even half of these temples you’ll no doubt be looking for something else to do in Bangkok. That’s why I’ve written this useful article on the top things to do in Bangkok. You will be able to quickly work through just about all the attractions in this article in just 2-3 days. So what are you waiting for? Read more here!