Thailand is home to spectacular Buddhist temples, whose beauty and history allure tourists from around the world, as well as practicing Buddhists. The ancient Lanna Kingdom with its capital in Chiang Mai was a pious land that brought the traditions of the Buddha from India and the west to the rest of Thailand. These five temples are worth a visit on your next trip to Thailand.
5 Amazing Thai Temples
Built in the 18th century, Wat Phra Kaew is considered by many to be the most important Buddhist temple in the country. The vast complex takes up a large plot of land in the Phra Nakhon district of Bangkok. Many tourists visit the temple due to its importance as well as the massive scale and undeniable beauty of its construction. The namesake of the temple is a large statue called the Emerald Buddha which was made in the 14th century. The faithful believe that the Emerald Buddha protects all of the people of Thailand. The temple is open for visitors from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm so avoid sleeping in.
Wat Arun is not only unique because the full name of the temple has something like 30 letters (Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan). This temple is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River that bisects the city of Bangkok. When morning dawns, the temple is reflected by the river in a truly beautiful sight. This temple is known for its Khamer-inspired architecture. There are tall towers and slanted roofs encrusted with colorful ceramics, seashells and porcelain. The best time to visit the temple is during the Kathina holiday when the king of Thailand himself visits the temple. The temple is open to visitors daily from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.
The White Temple is undoubtedly the most unique temple in all of Thailand. Built in modern times (construction finished in 1997) it was specifically designed to attract tourists to the Chiang Rai area. As the name implies, the temple is completely white. It is decorated by bizarre large white statues of gods and demons that were crafted with great attention to detail. The style of the architecture is reminiscent of Gaudi in Barcelona but the temple is decidedly Thai. Much of the temple’s architecture is highly symbolic. The bathrooms are very unique as well, but I won’t spoil the surprise for you. The White Temple is open daily from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm.
Doi Suthep is my favorite temple in Thailand because of its grandeur and splendor as well as the views and natural jungle beauty of the region. Doi Suthep is a short drive from Chiang Mai on a nearby hill. Once you arrive, you need to go up 309 steps flanked by jeweled dragons to reach the temple itself. Within the temple there are many beautiful statues made of different metals and jade. In the center of the temple is the Golden Mount which is a large golden structure that is awe inspiring. Many locals make pilgrimage to this temple as it is the most important temple in the Lanna region, which is an area of Thailand considered the religious heartland of the country. At the bottom of the 309 steps there are food and souvenir vendors as well. The temple is open daily from 6:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Wat Saket is located atop a mount that allows visitors to get a nice panoramic view of the city of Bangkok. Visitors have to climb the stairs to reach the temple. On your way up you will see many bells that buddhist priests use in order to meditate. Within the temple itself there are statues made of jade or covered in gold leaf (as is costume). The temple at the summit of the hills is square shaped so that walking around the perimeter of the temple itself offers a 360 degree view of the city. There are also smaller temples around this one that you can pay a quick visit to. During the Phu Khao Thong festival in November many tourists visit Wat Saket which is at the center of it. This temple is open to visitors from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
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