The Kingdom of Thailand is the most popular tourist destination in South East Asia. For the reason is that the kingdom features Buddhist temples, exotic wildlife, and spectacular islands. Along with a fascinating history and its uniqueness that includes mouth-watering Thai food and relaxing Thai massage & spa, Thailand appears a modern capital city, and friendly local people who always provide visitors warmest hospitality as it is part of their culture.
Thailand has a rich cultural background, incredible diversity and a climate suitable for travel almost year round. In fact Bangkok is rapidly becoming a centre for business within South East Asia, due to its geographic location, but also due to the fact that Thailand has a stable political system and a strong economy. Visitors to Thailand will discover a friendly, refreshing, safe and beautiful country… Thai people are known for their friendly smiles, natural grace and kindness which is probably why so many people return to Thailand for their holidays time after time.
The capital as well as the largest city of Thailand, Bangkok is one of the 22 megacities of the world. It is located on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, near the Gulf of Thailand. Bangkok is not particularly an old capital city since it was founded in 1782 when King Rama I moved here from the city across the river. Since then, it has been the hot spot of Thailand’s political, commercial and cultural life.
For tourists, Bangkok holds aplenty of attractions. There are Buddhist temples, palaces, museums, parks and a host of other sightseeing places. The best time to visit Bangkok is in between the months of August to February.
This exciting journey through Southeast Asia showcases the fascinating culture and artistic treasures of Thailand and Cambodia. Discover early empires, enchanting landscapes and friendly people. Ride the Elephants in Chiang Mai and enjoy the beaches of Koh Samui.
A visit to Bangkok would not be complete unless you take some time to visit a Buddhist Temple or two. Temples in Thailand are called Wat in Thai and are classified into two main categories: Royal Temples and Common Temples. Altogether there are about 200 Royal Temples, the following six are categorized as being of the highest grade. These six Buddhist temples were either built by, or sponsored by, the Royal Family and are located either in Bangkok, or within a relatively short driving distance outside of Bangkok.
If you are interested in seeing the cultural side of Thailand then these are the Buddhist Temples which you shouldn’t miss to visit,
- Wat Phra Chetuphon, Bangkok
- Wat Mahathat, Bangkok
- Wat Suthat, Bangkok
- Wat Arun, Bangkok
- Wat Phra Pathom Chedi, Nakhon Pathom Province
- Wat Phra Phutthabat, Saraburi Province
When you visit a temple in Thailand you will notice that the Wat is usually in enclosed grounds and is a place of peace and calm away from the madness of the city.It is just surprising how calm they can be. Inside the grounds there is a hall where the Buddha image is kept which is called the Bot and inside the Bot is where people go to pay respects to the Buddha image.
You will see people lighting candles and incense sticks and praying before the Buddha image. This prayer is conducted on an individual basis unlike in a Western church and you will see people coming and going all the time from the Bot.
So if you think you would enjoy spending some time looking at the history of Thailand Buddhist Temples then this list is a good place to start.
Southeast Asia, The Kingdom of Thailand is surrounded by Laos and Cambodia in the eastern side, Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia in the southern side and Andaman Sea and Mynmar in the west. With an area of 513,000 sqkm, Thailand is the 49th largest country in the world. The capital city is Bangkok.
The terrain of the country is mostly mountainous in the northern region and flat in the centre. The climate is tropical characterised by monsoons. From mid-May to September, it is rainy, warm and cloudy while from November to mid-March, it is dry and cool. The Southern isthmus is always hot and humid.
A majority of the people of Thailand are a follower of Buddhism (94.6%). Hence, the country is home to a number of destinations that are significant for a Buddhist tourist to visit. There are temples, stupas, statues that will hold your attention almost immediately.
Buddhism in Bangkok
Today, Buddhism is a way of life in Bangkok, much like in the rest of Thailand. The city is actually noted for its gorgeous marble temples and golden Buddhas. On the street, Buddhist monks can be easily seen making their daily rounds for alms. A number of Buddhist associations also dot the land of Bangkok.
Historically speaking, Bangkok was founded by Thong Duang (king Rama I) who not only did a lot to save his land from the foreign invaders but also made efforts to save the Buddhist religion (which was under threat due to Burmese invasion). He saved the Buddhist texts, built the Wat Phta Kaew to house the Emerald Buddha statue and created a new code of laws, the book of three seals. He also appointed the very first Supreme patriarch of Thai Buddhism. His efforts to save and propogate Buddhism earned him the name Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke posthumously.
TemplesThe Thai word wat simply means temple, and nearly everyone in the country refers to temples as wats. If you need directions to a temple, make sure you call it a wat, like Wat Arun.
Opening HoursOpening hours are set independently and vary from temple to temple. Nearly all temples are open every day and remain open until the early evening. Some temples remain open late into the evening.
If you are visiting Wat Po or another of the country’s most important temples, you will need to dress modestly. This means no sleeveless shirts, no shorts and no short skirts. Some temples provide coverups for people who arrive without the correct clothing.
Wear shoes that slip on and off easily, as you will be required to take them off in most temple buildings.
Just next to the Grand Palace is the Wat Po complex, housing an array of small chedi and interesting stonework. The main attraction here is the massive golden reclining Buddha but make sure to save some time to wander the grounds, too. Wat Po also also has a world-famous Thai massage institute.
Show your respectNo one will mind if you enter a temple just to watch what people are doing or view the architecture, but keep in mind that most temples are active places of worship. Don’t talk loudly, get in other peoples’ way, or eat or drink inside temples. And whatever you do, don’t point your feet at any Buddha images.
Do a bit of research firstMost temples do not have much information available in English, and it can be confusing to understand what you’re looking at or why it’s important.
Don’t get burned outPick a handful of temples that you really want to see and don’t worry if you don’t see every single important temple when you visit Thailand. Touring temples can be exhausting and if you (or your travel companions) are tired and bored, it’s not likely to be fun or rewarding.
- Don’t climb on Buddha images or let your children climb on them or you may be arrested.
- There may be a Bo tree recognisable by the saffron robe around its trunk in the grounds of the temple. Don’t let your children climb on it.
- Ladies should wear a dress, skirt or preferably trousers, and a top with sleeves that cover at least the shoulders. Shorts or revealing tops are not acceptable dress.
- Men should wear long trousers and a collared shirt or collared sports shirt. Shorts or singlet tops are not acceptable.
- Bare feet are not allowed so wear enclosed shoes (males and females), or socks with flip flops.
- Don’t touch the Monks, in particular females are forbidden to touch a Monk. Request permission before photographing a Monk.
- Remove your shoes and hat before entering a Bot, (the central hall of any Wat where the Buddha image is kept). You will see the shoe racks outside the door.
- When entering the Bot step over the threshold, it is bad luck to step on it.
- When inside the Bot, sit with your feet behind you, do not sit with your legs in front of you pointing towards the Buddha image. It is a good idea to copy how the others are sitting on the floor if unsure.
- Inside the Bot you should sit on the floor, there may be a raised platform which is where the Monks will sit, don’t sit on here.
- Some areas do not allow photography and these will be signposted, you should heed these rules. Don’t try and sneak a picture.
- These dress rules are for general guidance when visiting Thailand Buddhist temples.
Thailand is known for its amazing Buddhist temples and touring temples is something nearly every visitor to Thailand does. Use these tips to get the most out of your temple visit.
Buddhist Temple Rules