Hey there! Welcome to our guide on the best temples of Bangkok. Before we outline these magnificent places, let us introduce ourselves. We are Lali & Santi. Lali is 30 and works as a Financial Controller for an IT consultancy company. Before meeting Santi, she enjoyed traveling to European countries but had no idea what amazing travel experiences were awaiting.
While Santi is 32 and works as a Marketing Director for an industrial company. Before meeting Lali, he had traveled with family around Europe but also to America and China. He knew that he loved traveling but couldn’t imagine the feeling that some recent adventures would bring him.
Once we met we traveled to Amsterdam, London and Athens but then – suddenly – the pandemic hit. After two years of only being able to rent a boat in the Balearic Islands as the safest holiday option, we decided that it was time to go further afield and explore more of this wonderful world.
On our third anniversary, we decided to travel to the Riviera Maya in Mexico. After enjoying the feeling of being abroad again, we booked our second long distance journey to southern Thailand. It was there that we decided to arrange our job holidays the best we could, to travel as much as it was possible within our budget and continue working for our companies too.
It was an incredible experience to meet the Thai people (as they are so nice and caring), try the delicious food, marvel at the landscapes and snorkel in breathtaking spots. From this trip, we knew that we had to explore more southern Asian countries – and so we went on to visit Bali and the Maldives. We also decided to take advantage of long weekends (with festivities on Monday or Fridays) to travel closer to home in Italy, Portugal, Greece, etc.
So, that is our life – managing a routine with our jobs in Barcelona while trying to escape to discover new places as often as we can. Our next adventure will be in the Philippines next December and we can’t wait!
Falling in Love with Thailand on Two Trips
We have visited Thailand twice in the last year and a half. On our first trip, we stayed in Khao Lak. During the nine days we were there, we discovered mountainous nature and paradisiacal waters that left us speechless. Places like Khao Sok National Park, Phang Nga Bay, Phi Phi Islands, Similan Islands and Surin Islands amazed us. We also had the chance to visit Phuket where we visited its streets, temples and the Big Buddha.
The temples in Phuket allowed us to learn a bit more about the Buddhist culture that previous guides had explained to us and we were stunned by the beauty of the temples there. Furthermore, we fell in love with its people, delicious cuisine and incredible nature – leaving us eager to learn about their culture and religion. That is when we planned our second visit.
In January 2023, we traveled to the northern region of Thailand for 11 days. We started our journey in Bangkok, where we had three days to visit various temples (Wat Benchamabophit, Loha Prasat and Wat Arun) and take a day trip to the Pattaya area (Koh Lan and the Sanctuary of Truth).
We continued by visiting the ancient city of Ayutthaya and then headed to Chiang Mai for the next three days by overnight train. In Chiang Mai, we were able to learn about its history and culture through its temples.
There are many within the city of Chiang Mai but some of our favorites were Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chiang Man, Wat Buppharam and Wat Sri Suphan. On the second day, we took a trip to Chiang Rai where we visited its two gems: the White Temple and the Blue Temple.
Finally, we had an unforgettable experience at an ethical elephant sanctuary called Chai Lai Orchid – walking with them, feeding them and bathing them. From there, we returned to Bangkok to enjoy our last days as this city has so much to offer. We still had to see its incredible Grand Palace, Wat Pho (known for the reclining Buddha), Wat Traimit, the giant Buddha at Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen and the famous Khao San Road.
We didn’t dare try the scorpions and other bugs down Khao San, but we ended our last night with a delicious Pad Thai and mango sticky rice that we won’t forget! And as if Bangkok wasn’t enough – we also took a trip to see the Maeklong Train Market, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and Wat Samphran (famous for its dragon encircling the main building).
Why Bangkok is Such a Phenomenal City
In Bangkok you have countless temples to visit, markets to stroll through, streets to explore, dishes to savor, shopping to do and massages to relax with. Our moments weren’t just filled with excursions seeing beautiful places, rather we went wandering around the streets to see more and more. In the Siam Area we were amazed by the massive shopping centers and in the Khao San Road area we experienced the vibrant nightlife.
This shows you how Bangkok has options for every taste – from learning about its culture to taking a nighttime cruise on the river, attending a Muay Thai fight, shopping at Chatuchak Market, indulging in a massage, having a cocktail with views from one of their rooftops and more.
Before visiting Bangkok, our friends shared mixed opinions about the city and we came across some online reviews that were less than glowing. However in our opinion, Bangkok – despite its bustling atmosphere and traffic – exceeded our expectations with its wealth of attractions!
5 Best Temples to Visit While in Bangkok
1. The Grand Palace
The biggest surprise for us in Bangkok was visiting the Grand Palace. At first, we treated it as just another temple – however, we were wrong! It’s the monument we liked the most from both trips, a perfectly preserved place where every detail shines. The entrance isn’t cheap (around €15) but you can see the investment in its maintenance. It’s worth every euro.
We recommend taking a guided tour to learn the history of this marvel and especially enjoy its golden stupa, giant warriors and the Emerald Buddha – one of Thailand’s most important figures. The Grand Palace is also a large site – it covers an area of 218,000 square meters. To give you an idea, that is almost four times the size of FC Barcelona’s stadium!
Moreover, it’s a place of worship for all of Thailand due to the presence of the Emerald Buddha, which, as an interesting fact, has three types of attire: one for each season (summer, rainy and winter). You will also be captivated by the guardian statues at the entrances of the gallery. Most of them face the chapel of the Emerald Buddha to protect it from evil spirits.
The Grand Palace offers more than just a unique experience – it truly was a sensation! It’s a place where every corner shone brightly. The fact that such a significant piece of Thailand’s history appears impressive and contemporary left us in awe – not to mention with our SD card filled.
2. Wat Arun
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) is for us the most original temple in Bangkok. The most eye-catching feature is its central prang and the decoration on all its walls, with pieces of Chinese porcelain and seashells. You will also find demon figures representing guardians. If you are looking for the perfect photo of the temple, cross the Chao Phraya River and get your camera ready from the pier at sunset – or, for the early risers, at sunrise.
3. Wat Benchamabophit
This was the first temple we visited in Bangkok, also known as the Marble Temple, specifically made from white marble from the Italian city of Carrara. Once you enter, you will see the 52 Buddha statues surrounding its central courtyard and find one of the best photo spots in Bangkok. We have to admit we spent a while taking photos in that space – it’s truly magical.
4. Wat Pho
Also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, as the name suggests, it contains a statue of a giant reclining Buddha that is 46 meters long and 15 meters high. It’s covered in gold leaf! Don’t miss the feet of the statue, decorated with hundreds of symbols. But that is not all: we also loved the huge and colorful chedis you can find within the compound.
5. Loha Prasat
Otherwise called Wat Ratchanatdaram Worawihan, this temple is primarily known for its 37 golden spires representing the 37 virtues leading to enlightenment. The architecture is inspired by similar temples in Sri Lanka and India. It’s a building with several curiosities, like the fact that the spires used to be black years ago or the fact that the temple was hidden from general view by a cinema. We are sure Loha Prasat won’t disappoint you!
Learning About Thai Culture at the Temples
We were really eager to get to know Thai culture better, so that is why we ended up checking out all these Bangkok temples on guided tours. We figured we could have someone explain the backstory of each temple and we could throw in any questions or curiosities that popped into our heads.
Through these tour experiences, we gained a deeper understanding of key Buddhist concepts in Thailand such as impermanence, detachment and compassion. All of this enriched our understanding of the Buddhist faith and its significance in the daily lives of the Thailand.
The architecture of the temples in Bangkok also left a strong impression on us – the intricate details, their magnificent stature and their dazzling colors. However, we must admit that what we liked the most was Thai culture, the hospitality of the local people and what we learned about Buddhism.
To give you an example, we were fascinated by what one of our guides told us: a good Buddhist should think good, speak good and do good. All these principles seek ways to make us more humane and better. The belief in karma felt important to us – every act in life has its repercussions.
Where to Stay When Visiting Bangkok Temples
On our first few days in the capital we stayed at the Night Hotel Bangkok, right in the Sukhumvit district. We would recommend this neighborhood because it’s packed with attractions, shops, restaurants and entertainment options. The Skytrain covers a significant part of the area, making it an ideal place for easy transportation to anywhere in the city. Moreover, you are very close to the two most important shopping centers: MBK and Siam Paragon.
Upon our return from Chiang Rai, we stayed at the recently renovated Chillax Heritage Hotel Khaosan – which has an infinity pool with incredible views of Bangkok’s skyline. Its main advantage is its proximity to the famous Khao San Road. It’s also a fantastic location if you are planning to visit the Grand Palace, Loha Prasat or Wat Saket since they are all within a 30-minute walk. Remember that many excursions depart from that area.
Tips for Visiting the Temples of Bangkok
As we say, Thai hospitality is one of the country’s greatest virtues – which is why when visiting their temples, we should always be super respectful of their culture and customs. Here are a few tips to help you do so:
- Dress Respectfully: The temples of Bangkok are sacred places – so remember to dress modestly and ensure your shoulders and knees are covered. In some places, like the Grand Palace, they are strict about this.
- Remove Your Shoes: Another dress code tip is to remove your shoes before entering the temples. You will nearly always find a designated area at the entrance to leave them and of course it’s very safe to do this.
- Respect the Buddhist Images: Whatever you do at the temples of Bangkok, don’t pose in front of the statues or paintings imitating their postures or make jokes. These gestures can offend the faithful locals.
- Consider the Timing: Temples like Wat Pho or the Grand Palace can get very busy with people, especially during peak tourist season, so consider going early in the morning to see them at their very best.
How to Continue Following Our Travels Online
We started our Instagram (@santiandlali) in July, 2022. Since then we have been posting photos, tips and recommendations about all the places we have visited. We have also just launched a website where we will be sharing all the info that people might want to know before traveling. Please see the link here: https://santixlali.wixsite.com/santiandlali.
We have started with guides for Mykonos, the Maldives and Budapest – but we will keep creating more guides of all the places we have visited, and of course, a detailed itinerary for both north and south Thailand. Don’t hesitate to have a read as you can also find some interesting discounts!