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September 2014
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History and Culture > Temples

Temples in Thailand

Thailand’s temples have a subtle and enticing blend of the exotic and the spiritual. They are of course places of prayer and meditation, but they are also some of the most beautiful places you might ever visit.
 

Must see

From the architectural design of their buildings, to the murals, religious symbols and images they house, temples are a visually dazzling array of colours and textures coupled with exotic smells and mystical imagery. To Thais, temples are an integral part of every day life. As such the temple plays an important role in shaping Thai society and values. Of course, Thailand’s temples have also played an integral part in Thailand’s history. Many have seen war and invasion, others played pivotal roles in the development of Buddhism in Thailand. If you are in Thailand for a limited amount of time, the following temples are ones you really 'must see' before you go.

 


Ayutthaya
Wat Chaiwatthanaram

Wat Chaiwatthanaram is an imposing monastery located in the west of Ayutthaya on the Chao Phraya River. It was built by King Prasat Thong in 1630 and its architecture is similar to that of Angkor...
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Wat Phananchoeng

This monastery is located just south of Ayutthaya city on the east side of Chao Phraya River. Strangely, there is no record of when it was built or who built it; however, it is known that it was...
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Wat Phra Mahathat

Built in 1374 at the start of the Ayutthaya era, Wat Mahathat is an impressive temple ruin originally constructed to house Buddha relics that mysteriously appeared to an early Ayutthayan king....
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Wat Phra Si San Phet

Built in the reign of King Boromtrilokanath, Wat Phra Sri San Phet was the biggest temple in the area at its peak and is historically very significant. The temple is situated in a compound that...
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Wat Yai Chaimongkon

Wat Yai Chaimongkon is located near the main Ayutthaya ruins and a short distance from the walls of Ayutthaya. It is famed for an impressively large statue of the Reclining Buddha inside the...
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Wihan Phramongkhon Bophit

Wihan Phramongkhon Bophit contains one of the largest bronze Buddha images found in Thailand and also houses numerous smaller images. Destroyed by the Burmese in 1767, the temple was returned to...
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Bangkok
The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew really are places you must visit while you are in Bangkok. Both have considerable historical significance and are extremely beautiful places to see....
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Wat Pho

Wat Phra Chetuphon (locally known as Wat Pho) is famed for the massive ‘Reclining Buddha’ it houses.  At 46 meters long and 15 meters high, this gold-plated Buddha image depicts the Buddha’s...
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Chiang Mai
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is probably Chiang Mai's most important site for visitors, and certainly its most visible. Wat Phra Borommathat Doi Suthep nestles into the side of Doi Suthep some 3,000...
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Chiang Rai
Wat Phra Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew was known as Wat Pa Yeah (Temple in the Golden Bamboo Forest), because it was in fact surrounded by bamboo forest. Its name was changed to Wat Phra Kaew in 1977 after its chedi was...
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Hua Hin
Huay Mongkol Temple

Huay Mongkol Temple is situated 10 kilometers South of Hua Hin in the village of Tub Tai. Wat Huay Mongkol is home to the largest statue of the immensely popular Buddhist monk Luang Pu Thuat who...
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Koh Samui
Big Buddha

Big Buddha is one of must see places when you visit Koh Samui. This 12 meter high Buddha statue named “Phra Buddha Kodom” sits a top of a small hill. Probably it is the first thing you will see...
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Loei
Phra That Si Song Rak

Located on a hill by the Man River and built in 1560 on the border of the Ayutthaya and Lang Xang Kingdoms, Phra That Si Song Rak symbolizes the resolve of the kings of these two kingdoms not to...
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Mae Hong Son
Wat Hua Wiang

Located next to Mae Hong Son market, Wat Hua Wiang is a temple with a large compound featuring a large Burmese-style bronze Buddha image as its focal point. The compound also features a two-storey...
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Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu

Burmese-style Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu is located around 1,500 meters up Doi Kong Mu hill. The temple is famous for its view of the valley it overlooks. In the morning visitors can look out over...
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Nong Khai
Wat Sala Kaew Koo

Wat Sala Kaew Koo (or Wat Kek) is probably one of the most unique temples you are likely to visit in Thailand. Projecting a heady mixture of Buddhism and Hinduism merged with Brahmanism, the...
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Worth seeing

From the architectural design of their buildings, to the murals, religious symbols and images they house, temples are a visually dazzling array of colours and textures coupled with exotic smells and mystical imagery. To Thais, temples are an integral part of every day life. As such the temple plays an important role in shaping Thai society and values. Of course, Thailand’s temples have also played an integral part in Thailand’s history. Many have seen war and invasion, others played pivotal roles in the development of Buddhism in Thailand. If you are in Thailand for a limited amount of time, the following temples are ones you really 'must see' before you go.

If you have a little more time in Thailand, you'll have the luxury of visiting some of the temples that are not quite as well known as others, but equally as facinating:


Ayutthaya
Wat Phu Khao Thong

Wat Phu Khao Thong is often called "Golden Mount Pagoda" and was built in 1387. The site originally housed a large Mon-style Chedi built by King Hongsawadi of Burma to commemorate his victory in...
Read More »


Wat Ratchaburana

Constructed in the 15th century by King Sam Phraya as a memorial for his brothers, Wat Ratchaburana features a Khmer-style tower (or ‘Prang’). The temple was damaged by fire in 1967 and many of...
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Bangkok
Wat Arun

Wat Arun (or the Temple of Dawn) is probably one of the most recognizable temples in Bangkok, not least because the image of the temple has been published so often. The temple comprises a central...
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Wat Benchamabophit

Noted for its construction in Carrana marble, Wat Benchamabophit was built during the reign of King Rama V. Its design is different from many temples in that it utilises stained glass and other...
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Wat Bowon Niwet

Wat Bowon Niwet is regarded as being one of Bangkok’s most important temples, not least because it was here a number of kings (including Thailand’s current king, King Bhumibol) served their time...
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Wat Intharawihan

Wat Intharawihan houses one of the biggest Buddha images you are likely to see – at 32 metres tall and 11 metres wide, it totally dominates the skyline. Construction of this giant Buddha started...
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Wat Ratchabophit

Wat Ratchabophit was built by King Rama V in 1869 and displays a variety of western and local influences – the outside of the temple is very much Thai while the interior is more reminiscent of...
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Wat Ratchanadda (The Loha Prasat)

Across the street from the Golden Mount, Wat Ratchanadda probably the most unique temple design in Bangkok. Rama III began construction of the ‘Loha Prasat’ in the 19th century but due to its...
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Wat Saket - Temple of the Golden Mount

Wat Saket is famed for its Golden Mount – a spire that rises some 260 feet into the air from ground level. Nestled on top of a man-made hill, the Golden Mount is a fairly dominant feature in the...
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Wat Suthat - the Giant Swing

Built in the early 19th century, Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing are both a little off the beaten track, but well worth a visit if you have the time. You don’t get to see the actual swing these...
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Wat Traimit

In the Chinatown part of Bangkok lies Wat Traimit – home of a large Buddha image. Rising to only 15 feet, in a land where Buddha images sometimes shoot 32 meters into the air, some people might...
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Chiang Mai
Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Chedi Luang’s main significance is that it housed the Emerald Buddha for a short time before the relocation to Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew. The temple was built 600 years ago and at the time...
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Wat Chiang Man

Wat Chiang Man is reportedly the oldest temple in Chiang Mai and established by the city’s founder, King Mengrai, some 700 years ago. Although an important temple, it is relatively small and is...
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Wat Phra Singh

Wat Phra Singh (Full name: Wat Phra Singh Woramahaviharn) was built in the fourteenth century by King Phayu and was originally called Wat Li Chiang Phra. The buildings that can be seen here today...
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Chiang Rai
Wat Rong Khun

Wat Rong Khun is very different to any of temple you are likely to see in Thailand. A lifetime project of artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the temple has a fine blend of traditional Buddhist art...
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Koh Samui
Secret Buddha Garden

Built in 1976 by a fruit farmer “Nim Thongsuk”, Secret Buddha Garden is located in the hills of Samui Island. The garden took around 15 years to finish. It is a peace and tranquility place in the...
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Loei
Phra That Din Thaen
This is without doubt the most unique temple in Thailand - the 200-year-old temple was crafted entirely from soil; brick, concrete nor timber feature in its construction. The temple is highly...
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Wat Neramit Wiphatsana
Dedicated to a popular local monk and very reminiscent of some of the larger temples in Bangkok, Wat Neramit Wiphatsana was built for meditating monks and is located on a hill near Phra That Si Song...
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Wat Pho Chai

Built in the Ayutthayan period, Wat Pho Chai is one of the more important temples in the area. The focal point of the temple is a much revered bronze Buddha image which shows the Buddha in...
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Mae Hong Son
Wat Chong Kham / Wat Chong Klang

Given their close proximity, these two temples in Mae Hong Son are usually approached together. Both are found on southern Chong Klang Lake and when the sun reflects their images onto the water...
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Phang-Nga
Suwan Kuha Temple (Wat Tam)

Know locally as Wat Tam (the cave temple), Wat Suwan Kuha is just that – a temple in a cave! Located in a limestone mountain, Suwan Kuha is part of a large complex of caves with names such as Tam...
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Phuket
Wat Chalong

Of the 29 Buddhist monasteries in Phuket, Wat Chalong is the largest, the most important, and probably its most ornate. The architecture is typical of Thai temples and the design emphasizes bright...
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Songkhla
Wat Chaimongkhon (Wat Chao Phraya Thai)

Known locally as ‘Wat Yai’, Wat Chaimongkhon was built 1357 by King U-Thong. The temple features a central pagoda built by King Naresuan. The pagoda is tall enough to dominate the vicinity’s...
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Surat Thani
Wat Suan Mokkhaphalaram (Wat Suanmok)

Wat Suan Mokkhaphalaram (or Wat Suanmok for short) is a temple set in a forest. Apart from its splendid setting, the temple itself is somewhat ordinary, aside from its extraordinary history. It...
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At your leisure

From the architectural design of their buildings, to the murals, religious symbols and images they house, temples are a visually dazzling array of colours and textures coupled with exotic smells and mystical imagery. To Thais, temples are an integral part of every day life. As such the temple plays an important role in shaping Thai society and values. Of course, Thailand’s temples have also played an integral part in Thailand’s history. Many have seen war and invasion, others played pivotal roles in the development of Buddhism in Thailand. If you are in Thailand for a limited amount of time, the following temples are ones you really 'must see' before you go.

There are more temples than just those on the well beaten tourist track - if you have an extended stay in Thailand, you have the time to visit some of these temples:


Bangkok
Wat Mahathat

Built during the reign of King Rama I, Wat Mahathat is an important temple dedicated to the Mahanikai Buddhism which acts as a learning centre (Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University) for followers...
Read More »



Mae Hong Son
Wat To Phae

This is a large, ornate Burmese-style (Shan) temple that legend has it was built teak raft builders who worked in the area (the name of the temple is literally ‘temple of raft assembling’!). The...
Read More »



Phang-Nga
Wat Rat Uppatham or Wat Bang Riang
Wat Rat Uppatham or Wat Bang Riang , located in Tambon Bang Riang, 11 kilometres from the Thap Put District office on Phetkasem Road.

The temple, situated on Khao Lan hill, contains several...

Read More »


Rayong
Wat Pa Pradu

Located on Sukhumvit Road, Wat Pa Pradu was constructed in the Ayutthaya Period and is one of the area’s leading temples. It features a large reclining Buddha which is over 11 metres long and over...
Read More »


Wat Samut Khongkha (Wat Pak Nam)

Located south of Rayong city centre, Wat Samut Khongkha is a pagoda built on a small island on the Rayong River. The history of the 10-meter-high pagoda is unclear and neither is it really clear...
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Wat Saranat Thammaram

Built in 1944, Wat Saranat Thammaram contains a replica of the Phra Buddha Chinarat of Phitsanulok. In addition, the temple also houses replicas of other major Buddhist monuments - Phra Pathom...
Read More »



Trat
Wat Bupharam
On Highway No.3 (Sukhumvit) just opposite the Trat Hospital is a turn into Plai Khlong Road which leads to Wat Bupharam , a distance of two kilometres. Built in circa 1648 during the Ayutthaya era,...
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