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Must-see Temples of Bangkok

07-05-2009
The temples of Bangkok are an intricate part of the city’s soul and a visit to Bangkok is not complete without a visit to at least a couple of them.

Bangkok has an abundance of temples and to see them all would take you weeks. We give you a list of Bangkok’s absolute must-see temples:

Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is regarded as Thailand’s most important Buddhist temple. Wat Phra Kaew is situated within the walls of Bangkok’s Grand Palace in the city’s historic centre. The temples has its name after the little Emerald Buddha, a 19 inches tall Buddha figure carved out of one piece of jade.

Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (see image). The largest temple in Bangkok, famous for its enormous, majestic statue of the Reclining Buddha. The Buddha is 46 m long and covered with gold foil, the feet are 3 m long and decorated with mother-of-pearl laksanas.

Wat Arun, locally known as Wat Chaeng or the Temple of Dawn, once the first place in Bangkok to catch the rays of the ascending sun. The temple was named, though, by King Taksin who arrived at the temple at dawn as he withdrew his troops from a battle.

Wat Traimit, the Temple of the Golden Buddha. The temple of the world’s largest sitting Buddha. It is 5 m tall and weighs 5.5 tonnes. The fact that the Buddha was covered by gold foil was discovered by accident, as it was dropped during a removal and the plaster cover broke.

Wat Sutat the Great Swing, one of Bangkok’s oldest temples, has a fantastic, elegant roof structure and was once the site of the Great Swing Ceremony where young men to give thanks for a good rice harvest would ride the enormous swing as high as 80 m into the air. The only thing left of this is a large teak structure.

Wat Saket, the Temple of the Golden Mount. Within the walls of Wat Saket is the Golden Mount, Phu Khao Thong with the shining gold chedi (a bell shaped tower) at the top. Wat Saket has been used as crematorium and dumping ground for plague victims. Enjoy the beautiful view over Bangkok.

And last, but not least, we recommend Saan Phra Phrom, also called Erawat Shrine, a shrine situated between skyscrapers and shopping malls, where the Thai come to worship and offer up flowers. Sit on one of the benches, feel the calm of the place and let the noise of the city disappear.

The temples are very popular tourist attractions and we recommend that you visit them early in the morning when it is still relatively cool and there less crowded. Most temples close at 6 p.m.

Bangkok’s temples are not just tourist attractions but a living part of Thailand’s Buddhist tradition. The Buddhist monks live in the temple complexes where they get up at 4 a.m. attend to their prayers and their duties and then go to the streets of the city.

The temples are sacred places, so dress accordingly: Avoid shorts and revealing tops , or you may not be let in.

Remember, too, the less famous and less popular temples where fewer people come and where you will find more peace and quiet and perhaps time for contemplation. If you are looking for a spiritual experience, you will probably want to go to one of these less famous shrines.

Now, how do I get to Bangkok?
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Enjoy your trip!

Photo: Maria Erica Jensen
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