If you’re looking for temples in Bangkok you’re definitely not going to be disappointed, there are over 400 of them in the Thai capital. The most famous and important temple is the Grand Palace and the Royal Temple of the Emerald Buddha. One thing you need to be aware of, if you’re visiting this temple, is the strict dress code. If you’re visiting any temple in Bangkok you’re expected to dress respectfully and at the Royal Temple the dress code is always enforced.
One of the main reasons for the dress code at the Royal Temple is that the Grand Palace and grounds are still in use by the Royal Family on ceremonial occasions. You should try and be prepared, but don’t worry too much if you get taken aside by one of the guards. You will be ushered to a changing area and given a more respectable local garment to hire. If you don’t want this to happen then just pay attention to the dress code.
WHAT IS THE DRESS CODE FOR TEMPLES IN BANGKOK?
Some of the items in the list of what isn’t allowed are what you would probably imagine, such as see-through clothing, but a few might surprise you. Here’s the rest of the list, so you can be prepared.
- Short skirts and shorts or even shortened trousers (you should always wear full length). Skirts that fall below the knee are permitted.
- Tight fitting trousers such as leggings.
- Any clothing that has holes in, such as ripped jeans.
- Vests or any top without sleeves, you can wear t-shirts.
- Any top with sleeves rolled up, even if it’s warm keep your sleeves down.
- Sportswear of any type.
- Sweat shirts or sweat pants.
- Perhaps unexpectedly you can wear sandals and flip-flops (in a suitable design) but it’s best to wear full shoes for comfort when you’re walking around.
You know what to wear, but where should you visit?
Grand Palace and The Royal Temple of The Emerald Buddha
As it’s the main temple in Bangkok, and the place where we’ve spoken about the dress code being most vigorously applied, we’ll start with the Grand Palace and the Royal Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Of all the temples in Bangkok this is the must see.
The palace was built in 1782 and is a truly inspirational example of the creativity of the Thai nation, with its intricate and ornate architecture. Even though the Royal Family no longer resides at the palace, it still lies at the heart of the Thai people. The site also plays host to royalty on ceremonial occasions such as the changing of the robes of the Emerald Buddha.
Carved from a single piece of jade, the Emerald Buddha is a small representation of the Buddha in a meditating position. The carving dates back to the 15th century and is revered in Thailand. It is housed in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or Wat Phra Kaew, which is on the same site as the Grand Palace. The robes of the Buddha are changed three times each year, to correspond with changing seasons. This in an important event, said to bestow good fortune on the country, and is only ever undertaken by the king.
The Temple of The Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)
This is another temple which houses a representation of Buddha, but this is the reclining Buddha and he has very different proportions from the Emerald Buddha. The Reclining Buddha is 15 metres tall and 46 metres long; even his feet are 5 metres in length! Visiting the Buddha is the most popular thing to do at the site, and if you need some luck in your life you can buy some coins at the door to throw in the brass bowls within the room where the Buddha is housed. You should be aware that you’ll be expected to remove your footwear and that your shoulders should be covered, with no clothing to be worn that doesn’t fall below your knees.
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
In a city full of the most beautiful temples in the world which one rates the highest? It’s usually a battle between Wat Arun and Wat Pho, both worthy of a visit and both offering something a little different to the other. In many ‘what to do in Bangkok guides’ Wat Arun wins the battle! It is arguably the best temple in the city and there’s no doubt that this should be on your list of Bangkok attractions to visit.
The Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun, sits on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Named for the Hindu god, Aruna, the temple magically catches and reflects the first light of the morning sun, creating a striking sight that you’ll only be able to appreciate at dawn. Wat Arun looks quite amazing at night too, all lit up with a golden glow. The temple is best accessed by ferry across the river and be sure to climb the steep stairway up the face of the temple for the ultimate experience. If you make it to the top the views are fantastic and you’ll be able to tick that off your list of things to do in Bangkok!
Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Traimit)
This temple, situated at the end of Yaowarat Road in Chinatown, is a spectacular site with its multi-level white and gold architecture. The building itself is not the only attraction on the site, as visitors are again treated to the sight of Buddha, this time in the form of the largest gold seated re-creation in the world. It’s completely free to visit the Buddha but you will have to pay a small fee if you want to visit the museum that is also based at the temple. One of the most fascinating facts about Wat Traimit is that the fabulous golden Buddha was only actually revealed to be made of solid gold in 1955. When statues such as this one were originally made they were covered in plaster and stucco so that they wouldn’t be recognised as valuable if anyone raided the temple.
Wat Ratchanatdaram Woravihara (Loha Prasat)
If you’re visiting temples in Bangkok then you really can’t miss this one. Thirty-seven metal spires rise above the main building representing the virtues towards enlightenment. They provide an amazing crown for the temple with an interior that contains a maze of passageways, interspersed with a multitude of pillars. Outside of the Temple walls is a market where you can invest in your very own Buddha, as a reminder of your visit to Wat Ratchanatdaram Woravihara. You should be aware that you do have to pay a small fee to visit this temple but it’s well worth spending.
Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple)
While you’re visiting Bangkok, look on the back of a 5 baht coin and you’ll find a engraving of Wat Benchamabophit. Although relatively modern (it was constructed in 1900) this is one of the most revered temples in Bangkok and is often the site of visits by leading Thai officials. Take a trip to the site and you’ll be captivated by the pristine imported Italian marble that covers the outer walls of the temple.
If you’re looking for something a little different to the usual temples in Bangkok then Wat Prayoon has it. In addition to the impressive temple itself, the site is also home to Turtle Mountain. This is not your average rock formation, it’s a mound of melted candle wax and is home to a group of spirit houses that are dedicated to those who have died. Alongside the mountain you get the opportunity to mix with the wildlife, feeding the turtles that reside in the lake.
Temple of the Great Relic (Wat Mahathat)
If you’re looking for grandeur then you won’t find it at this temple; but you will find a very impressive royal history. This Bangkok temple was one of the original six royal wats and has hosted many regal events over the years. Wat Mahathat is now the home of Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University where Buddhist monks undertake higher education and where the International Buddhist Studies College has its base.
When you’re visiting Bangkok you really can’t miss its temples. Thailand is a country that is 95% Buddhist so you would expect there to be a large number of temples in Bangkok. You may find some of the smaller ones down back streets, hidden away. We have introduced you to some of the most opulent, culturally significant and historical temples or “wats”. Visiting any of them is an eye opening and memorable experience. Don’t forget to dress with respect, and it’s a good idea to make sure your shoulders and legs above the knees are covered when you enter any of the temples in Bangkok.