Thailand has always been a favorite tropical destination for holidaymakers. It’s pristine beaches, azure waters, and lush rainforests have always wooed tourists for years.
However, another aspect which visitors really adore about Thailand is it’s cultural immersion and rich heritage. Thailand is scattered with over 40,000 temples. In fact, its capital city – Bangkok itself consists of over 40 temples. Thailand’s fascinating collection of Buddhist shrines and ornate temples include some temples that are centuries old and some of the temples have a quirky twist, and stand out from the conventional Thai temple styles.
Here’s a list of stunning Thailand temples you need to check out on your next vacation.
The 12 Best Thailand Temples in 2019
1. Wat Phra Kew, Bangkok
This is one temple in Thailand you wouldn’t want to miss. Located within the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kew or the Temple of Emerald Buddha is regarded as one of the most significant and sacred Buddhist temples in the country. The temple consists of an emerald Buddha idol carved out of single jade stone. And it’s surrounding precinct is spread over 90 acres dotted with ornate pagodas and intricately designed statues and motifs. Altogether it is said to comprise of over 100 buildings reflecting glorious years of Thai history and architectural splendours.
2. The Sanctuary of Truth, Pattaya
Completely made out of wood, The Sanctuary of Truth is inspired by Ayutthayan architectural style and is bedecked with sculptures, motifs, and idols of various Hindu-Buddhist influence. Most of which are traditionally handcrafted. This temple has become an iconic landmark in Pattaya and showcases the talents and craftsmanship of Thai artisans. It’s said that the construction and restoration of this temple is never ending as the wooden structures gradually wear away due to nature’s elements.
3. Wat Pa Phu Kon, Udon Thani
One of the most picturesque temples of Thailand, hidden away from the eyes of tourist is Wat Pa Phu Kon located in Udon Thani district of Northern Thailand. An active place for practicing Buddhist faith, the temple complex is adorned in hues of blue, gold and white. Constructed on a sprawling landscape amid the hilly woodlands, this stunning temple is one of the many shrines of Thailand that are designed in an unconventional style.
4. Tiger Cave Temple, Krabi
Krabi has always attracted tourists for its beaches. But take a look around the region and you’ll find many hidden gems worth visiting. One such attraction is the Tiger Cave Temple located on the northeast side of Krabi. It’s quite hard to miss this shrine if you’re at this part of Krabi, as the temple is dominated by a colossal statue of golden Buddha surrounded by the lush dense forests and series of limestone caves. One needs to climb a flight of 1272 steps to reach the main temple complex from where the panoramic view of the region and the Andaman Sea is simply breathtaking. The temple is considered as a sacred shrine. And is also an active center of Vipassana meditation teaching.
5. Wat Arun, Bangkok
One of the most magnificent temples dominating the Bangkok cityscape is Wat Arun or the Temple of the Dawn. Located on the shores of the Chao Phraya River, this stunning temple differs slightly from the usual architectures of Thai temples. It’s made up of numerous spires embedded with crystals and Chinese porcelain making it glisten in the rays of the sun. The temple looks magnificent during dawn and twilight as the amber-hued skies form an ideal backdrop. And its sheer splendor reflecting on the Chao Phraya River is breathtakingly beautiful to watch.
6. Wat Sri Suphan, Chiang Mai
Popularly known as Chiang Mai’s silver temple, Wat Sri Suphan is yet another temple that steps away from the stereotyped Thai temples. Located at Wualai Road, south of Chiang Mai, the district’s incredible skills on silver making are elaborately showcased on the temple’s architecture and interiors. Though it’s constructed in the 15th century, its restoration is constantly maintained by local silversmiths. The temple’s main hall and surroundings comprise of sparkling silver statues of Buddha and intricately crafted motifs of various creatures. Women can visit the temple but are restricted from entering the main hall. This is one temple you must not miss visiting if you’re in Chiang Mai.
7. Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai
Also known as the White Temple, Wat Rong Khun is not a shrine, but a manifestation of an artist’s fantasy. Nevertheless, this stunning temple set in Chiang Rai is one of the popular places to visit in Thailand. The temple stands out on the landscape as it’s fully painted in white. The image is strikingly surreal as compared to other Thailand temples. The architecture looks a lot like Thai intricate designs. But upon closely observing, you would discover that it’s filled with unconventional and abstract statues and motifs. An admission fee of 50 Thai Baht is required to be paid by foreign visitors to enter this temple.
8. Sirindhorn Wararam Phu Prao, Ubon Ratchathani
Located at Sirindhorn district in Ubon Ratchathani, this temple will leave you spellbound with its brilliant neon like illuminations and majestic architecture. The ideal time to visit this temple is during the late afternoon when you can enjoy the panoramic views of the Mekong River and surroundings. The main highlight of the temple is the tree of life patterns on its main structure and temple grounds which start glowing as the sun sets. Under the starkly dark night, the temple’s design shines in bright fluorescent hues and radiates a surreal aura. It’s one of the most picturesque temples of Thailand and if you ever get the opportunity to visit this province, do visit this mystical temple.
9. Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Ayutthaya
A few hours away from Bangkok lies the antique remnants of the Ayutthaya empire. Among these ruins are some of the most charming temples built during the Ayutthaya reign. One such temple is the Wat Chaiwatthanaram – a Buddhist temple located on the western banks of Chao Phraya River. It’s one of the most popular things to do on a Bangkok holiday trip. Constructed in Khmer style, the temple consists of prangs and chedis adorned in numerous murals and statues depicting the life of Buddha.
10. Wat Tham Pha Plong, Chiang Dao
Nestled within the verdant jungles of Chiang Dao, this temple is a serene place to visit. Though Chiang Dao isn’t a popular destination, the region is just an hour’s drive away from Chiang Mai and is sheathed in the lush green wilderness. An excursion to Wat Tham Pha Plong offers you a chance to enjoy the pristine beauty of nature and calmness of Thai spirituality.
11. Wat Chet Yot, Chiang Mai
Nestled amid serene green landscape in Chiang Mai, Wat Chet Yot is a beautiful 14th century Buddhist temple and a prominent pilgrimage center for Buddhist monks. The temple’s architecture is inspired from Indian Buddhist shrines which consist of viharns and chedis. And its structure symbolizes various aspects of Buddha’s path to enlightenment. The architecture and designs also encompasses Chinese, Thai and Lao influences. The surrounding complex is dotted with Lanna era relics and combined with the secluded verdant settings, the aura feels divine and tranquil.
12. Wat Pha Sorn Kaew, Bangkok excursion
While you’re in Bangkok, you’re certainly going to visit numerous temples that are well publicized and often included in a usual itinerary. However, Bangkok has some of the most stunning collection of low-key shrines on the outskirts of the city that are simply awesome to visit. One of the best buddha temples in thailand is Wat Pha Sorn Kaew. A stunning temple also known as the ‘Temple on a high glass cliff’ located about 5 hours away from Bangkok. Soaring above pristine hilly terrain, surrounded by dense forests, this temple is perched on a mountain top.
Furthermore, the magnificent white sculptures of five Buddhas seated in meditation position looms over the region. Combining contemporary designs with traditional architecture, the temple is also a serene sanctuary for meditation and combines natural beauty with spiritual ambiances to offer its visitors an absolute calming experience for mind and soul. The fact it’s still not as popular as other temples around Bangkok. And is less crowded by tourists most of the time, further enhances the serenity of the experience.
Final Thoughts on the Best Temples in Thailand
The temples in Thailand exudes the grandeur of the historic past and the prevailing divinity of the present. Fused together, it presents a beautiful, tranquil ambiance for visitors to have a serene time filled with artistic spectacles and Thai spirituality.
As the temples are functional and locals worship the sacredness of the temples, it’s essential for tourists to follow the customs and respect the traditions of local people. Hence it’s very essential to follow dress codes, maintain silence and remove footwear outside the temples while visiting them.
So once you get your Thailand visa and plan to visit Thailand, add a couple of these fascinating temples to get an insight into the cultural splendor of Thailand while enjoying the leisure aspects as well.
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