Wat is a difficult word to translate directly into English. It can mean both temple and monastery or the Thai Buddhist temple complexes that comprise several buildings within the same compound.
Situated in the Bangkhunphrom area on Wisut Krasat Road, the temple was constructed during the reign of King Rama IV. The wat is well known for it’s large standing Buddha image, some 32 metres tall. The topknot of the image contains a relic of the Lord Buddha brought from Sri Lanka.
This Royal temple is situated on Maha Chai Rd, next to Wat Theptidaram. Built in the reign of King Rama III in 1846, the temple enshrines a Buddha image made from copper mined in Nakhon Ratchasima province. Next to the temple is the rather strange looking Loha Prasat or ‘Metal Palace’, built around the same time as the temple. The palace is believed to be modelled on a similar palace in India from over 2,500 years ago. The 37 spires represent the 37 Dharma of the Bodhipakya. Around the grounds of the palace and temple is a well-known amulet market, where many miniature Buddha images and lucky charms can be found.
Wat Bowon Niwet
This temple is situated in the Banglamphu area on Phra Sumen Road. It is the national headquarters for the Thammayut monastic sect. The founder of this sect was King Mongkut, who started a royal tradition by entering the monkhood here. King Bhumibol and the Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, along with other males in the royal family, have been temporarily ordained as monks here. The Buddhist university, Mahamakut University is also housed here.
Located on the south side of the Grand Palace, this is the biggest and oldest temple in Bangkok. Divided into two sections, one where the monks reside and the other containing several religious buildings. The original temple dates back to the 16th century, but it was completely rebuilt in 1782.
Wat Pho is known for its gigantic Reclining Buddha, the largest in Thailand at 46m long and 15m high. The image is covered with gold leaf, while the soles of the image are inlaid with mother-of-pearl designs depicting the 108 auspicious signs by which a Buddha can be recognised.
Located within the grounds are the headquarters for the teaching of traditional Thai medicine and Thai massage. Visitors can take a massage here and courses are available for those wishing to learn more about Thai traditional massage.
Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha)
Situated near the intersection of Yaowarat and Charoen Krung roads, close to Hualamphong railway station. The solid gold Buddha image stands 3m tall, weighs 5_ tonne and was elegantly sculptured in the Sukhothai style.
Wat Benchanabhopit (Marble Temple)
This elegant temple is situated on Sri Ayuttaya Rd, near the King’s official residence at Chitrlada Palace. The temple got its name from the Carrera marble used in its construction. The temple was built in 1899 by King Rama V and houses the Buddha image, Phra Buddha Chinnarat, considered one of the most beautiful images in Thailand.
The ‘Temple of Dawn’ is situated on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River. Named after the Hindu god of dawn, Aruna, the temple was built on the site of Wat Chaeng, a 17th century royal temple and palace which was the last resting place of the Emerald Buddha before crossing the river to Bangkok.
The 81m prang was built during the first half of the 19th century, during the reign of kings Rama II and Rama III. The whole of the brick structure is covered in plaster embedded with pieces of Chinese porcelain, a familar decoration of early Rattanakosin period temples.
The temple is reached by taxi-boat from Tha Tien pier, at the end of Thai Wang Rd or Tha Chang pier, at the end of Na Phralan Rd.
The construction of the temple was started in 1807 by Rama I and finally completed in 1851 at the end of the reign of Rama III. The viharn was built in an early Bangkok-style, with six pairs of intricately carved doors. Inside the viharn is the Phra Sri Sakyauni Buddha image, a large bronze image that was previously enshrined in Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai.
The wat has the classification of Rachavoramahavihan, the highest rank bestowed on a temple. The ashes of Rama VIII, the brother of Rama IX, are interred in the base of the main Buddha image.
Close to the temple is Sao Ching Cha, or Giant Swing, the centre of Brahman festivities.
Wat Thamma Mongkhon
Located on Sukhumvit Soi 101, it boasts the highest pagoda in Bangkok, standing at almost 95m high. There is a Buddha image weighing 14-ton carved from a solid 34-ton block of jade. Kept in the pagoda are relics and a hair of the Lord Buddha which was presented to Thailand by the head of the Theravada monastic order of Bangladesh.