The capital of Thailand is a city full of magnificent and stunning temples, many of which have a long history and significant cultural importance. There are over 500 of them! How to choose the most important temples in Bangkok, the ones that are truly worth seeing? Especially when exploring Bangkok with kids or when you don’t have much time to uncover all the city’s secrets.
We’ve selected 3 of our favourite temples for you to see during a one-day trip around Bangkok.
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Wat Phra Kaew – The Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Right after breakfast, we start with the most important temple in Thailand, located within the Grand Palace complex (more about it below). The interior of the temple houses the holiest Buddha relic in Thailand – the statue of the Emerald Buddha (Phra Kaew Morakot). This statue was carved from a single block of green jade and stands at a height of 66 cm. It’s the most important Buddhist relic in the country, closely linked to the monarchy, and attributed to numerous miracles and legends.
Our children were quite surprised that this famous and most important Buddha figure in all of Thailand is so small. However, they later admitted that the entire temple has a certain magic that’s hard to describe. The richness of the ornate interior and the outer walls covered with beautiful frescoes depicting scenes from Hindu epics, stories from Buddha’s life, and fairy-tale characters add uniqueness. Religion here intertwines with philosophy, mythology, and history. Everything is depicted in incredible detail. Truly amazing. We won’t show you pictures of this, though… because you simply can’t take them inside. So, you have to go there yourself :).
Grand Palace Complex in Bangkok
The Wat Phra Kaew temple with the Emerald Buddha is located within the Grand Palace complex – one of the most characteristic and historic landmarks in the city. The Grand Palace used to be the residence of the King of Thailand and now serves ceremonial functions such as state and royal events. If you want to see the Emerald Buddha, you’ll need to walk through the entire complex, where other lesser-known temples are also situated. We recommend doing this either right after opening or just before closing. This way, you’ll avoid both the tropical heat and large crowds.
Jasio and the temples in Bangkok – these 2 photos are exactly 7 years apart :)
Wat Pho – The Temple with the 46-meter Reclining Buddha
A 20-minute walk from the Grand Palace Complex will take you to Wat Pho – one of the oldest and most important temples in Bangkok. If you want to see the most interesting and memorable temples in Bangkok with kids, there are at least two reasons to go there. The first reason is the enormous statue of the reclining Buddha, which is 46 meters long and 15 meters high – a hallmark of Wat Pho.
This impressive statue, known as “Phra Buddhasaiyas,” depicts Buddha in a state of relaxation before Nirvana. The statue is entirely covered in gold, and its enormous foot is adorned with 108 symbols representing the qualities of a true Buddhist disciple, which one should aspire to. These symbols signify virtues such as compassion, wisdom, understanding, virtue, and other qualities cherished in Buddhism.
The second reason to visit is the row of metal bowls along the wall, where you can drop coins (available for purchase for 20 baht in the temple). There are, again, 108 bowls, referencing the same 108 qualities of perfection that adorn the statue’s feet. Devotees who walk past these 108 bowls, often placing a coin in each, hope to achieve inner peace, mental purification, and spiritual transformation. Our children walked this path twice (Basia is 3), so I hope their inner transformation will come soon :).
Additionally, Wat Pho is a renowned centre for traditional Thai massage education. Many students from art schools come here and set up their easels and sketchbooks among the stupas. The atmosphere here is much more relaxed than within the Grand Palace.
Wat Arun – The Temple of Dawn
This beautifully decorated temple stands on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, almost opposite Wat Pho. The easiest way to get there from Wat Pho is by taking a ferry that operates every few minutes between the two banks. The stop near Wat Pho is called “Tha Tien Pier,” and near Wat Arun, it’s “Tha Wat Arun Pier.” However, if you somehow miss these two stops, just ask a guard for directions – they’ll explain everything immediately.
The most distinctive feature of Wat Arun is its enormous stupa, a sacred tower, which stands 82 meters tall. This stupa is unique due to its decorations inspired by the Khmer style, adorned with colourful ceramics and glaze. Take a close look at them – they are truly beautiful up close.
Wat Arun symbolizes the sunrise, as evident in its name – “Temple of Dawn.” The stupa is decorated not only with beautiful tiles but also sculptures depicting figures and motifs from Hindu mythology.
Unfortunately, you can only see the temple from the outside. Climbing to the top of the stupa is not allowed; only the central terrace is accessible. However, this didn’t bother us at all. The decorations, tiles, and sculptures make an immense impression.