12 Temples in Bangkok You Should Know About
There are over 40,000 temples across Thailand, and more than 400 of them are in Bangkok. If you hadn’t figured, Thailand is a very religious country with about 92% of people being Buddhist.
To truly understand Thailand’s culture, you must visit a few temples. And, there is no better place to go temple hopping than Bangkok.
Many first-time visitors rush to Bangkok’s top temples like Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Arun. However, there is obviously plenty more to see. So where do we start?
Here I’ve compiled a list of 12 temples in Bangkok that you really should know about. This includes popular destinations like Wat Phra Kaew to local secrets like Wat Chakrawat (the crocodile temple).
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 center (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 opening hours: 8.30am to 5.30pm | Entry is 100 THB (USD 4)
Wat Arun is one of Thailand’s most iconic temples, perhaps only beaten by the White Temple in Chiang Rai. Wat Arun is located right along 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 stairs are steep so take care as you climb. Wat Arun’s upper level gives an impressive view of the “Old Bangkok” neighborhood.
2. Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Wat Pho opening hours: 8am to 5pm daily | Entry is 100 THB (USD 4)
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.
3. Wat Bowon Niwet Vihara
Wat Bowon Niwet opening hours: 6am to 6pm | Entry is free
Wat Bowon Niwet Vihara is one of Thailand’s most important temples. It is regarded 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, but you won’t find many foreign tourists here.
During the Songkran period (Thai New Year) Wat Bowon Niwet can get very busy. If you’re looking for free temples in Bangkok, then start here!
4. Wat Phra Kaew (The Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
Wat Phra Kaew opening hours: 8.30am to 3.30pm | Entry is 500 THB (USD 20)
Wat Phra Kaew is just as commonly referred to as the temple of the Emerald Buddha. It is the most iconic building the Grand Palace and the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand.
Wat Phra Kaew houses the Emerald Buddha statue which was originally located in Chiang Rai. The design of the Emerald Buddha statue dates back to the 15th century. No one is allowed anywhere near it except for the King of Thailand.
Wat Phra Kaew was built in 1785 and has served as the home of the King of Thailand for over 150 years. The Grand Palace complex also contains other important buildings such as the Royal 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 jewelry and clothing stores.
5. Wat Saket (Golden Mountain)
Wat Saket opening hours: 9am to 5.30pm | Entry is free
Wat Saket is commonly referred to as the Golden Mountain. It is an easy walking distance from Khao Sarn Road making it one of Bangkok’s most popular temples. Wat Saket is located up 300 stairs on top of a small man-made mountain. There is an impressive golden chedi at the top. You will also get a great view of 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.
6. Wat Ratchanatdaram (Loha Prasart)
Loha Prasart opening hours: 8.30am to 6pm | Entry is 20 THB (USD 0.80)
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.
7. Wat Traimit (Golden Buddha Temple)
Wat Traimit opening hours: 9am to 5pm | Entry is free, 10 THB (USD 0.30) to visit the small museum
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.
8. Wat Benjamabhopit (Marble Temple)
Wat Benjamabhopit opening hours: 8am to 5.30pm | Entry is 20 THB (USD 0.80)
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 hopping in a tuk-tuk or taxi, the far one way should not be any more than 60 THB (USD 2).
9. Wat Chakrawat (Crocodile Temple)
Wat Chakrawat opening hours: 8am to 5pm | Entry is free
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 practicing 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 afterward.
10. Wat Suwannaram
Wat Suwannaram opening hours: 8am to 5pm | Entry is free
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 neighborhood that many others won’t get to experience.
11. Wat Rakhang Khositaram (Temple of the Bells)
Wat Rakang opening hours: 8am to 5pm | Entry is free
Wat Rakhang Khositaram is located along the west banks of the Chao Praya River and is right beside the popular Wang Lang Market. This isn’t the original name of the temple but was renamed when an ancient bell was discovered here during renovations. 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.
12. Wat Mahathat (Temple of the Great Relic)
Wat Mahathat opening hours: 7am to 5pm | Entry is free
This temple has been known by many different names over the years but the current name is Wat Mahathat.
Vipassana Meditation courses are taught here daily from 7am-10am, 1pm-4pm, and 6pm-8pm. There are English and Thai speaking monks, so you can learn meditation even as a foreigner. Wat Mahathat meditation classes are free; however it is generally expected that a donation is made (i.e. 100 THB, roughly USD 4).
Perhaps you’ve seen people selling small amulets in Bangkok along the street? Next door to Wat Mahathat is Bangkok’s largest amulet market which runs every Sunday. You will find hundreds of locals closely examining these amulets with magnifying glasses and handing over wads of cash.
What to Wear to Temples in Thailand?
Remember to dress appropriately when visiting temples in Thailand. That means clothing covering your knees and shoulders for both men and women.
Some temples may offer long pants for tourists to wear while visiting the temple, however, it is best to come prepared.
You should also take off your shoes and leave them at the entrance of the temple. Don’t worry, no one will steal them at a temple. Some of the more popular temples will also have people offering a small plastic carry bag for your shoes.
If you are visiting multiple temples in one day then you might consider shoes that can slide on/off or flip-flops.
Bangkok, What’s Next?
After exploring temples for a whole day you will probably be looking for something different 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!