No visit to Bangkok is complete without visiting the temples in the city. The temples, or wats, are all over and the main temples can be seen in a day or two.
You can either plan your own trip or check in the lobby of your hotel and sign up for a ½ or full day trip. There are 5 temples that are definite “must see”.
Wat Arun is the temple of the dawn. It is located on the Chao Phraya River. As the name indicates, it is ideal to visit first thing in the morning as the sun rises. This way you will see the sun bounce off the walls of the temple with a pearly iridescence.
Wat Phra Kaew, or the temple of the Emerald Buddha, is in the heart of Bangkok, at the Royal Palace. Despite the name, the statue is really made of jade and is adorned in golden garments. There are three sets of gold clothing that are changed according to the seasons.
Like all the temples, you should dress appropriately. For the men, this means slacks and a collar shirt. For the ladies, wear a dress and cover as much skin as possible. If you are improperly dressed, you will either be turned away or be offered to rent some clothes.
Another temple to visit is Wat Pho. This is the temple of the Reclining Buddha. This is the oldest temple in Bangkok and houses over 1,000 images of Buddha. The Reclining Buddha is 46 meters long, plated in gold, with inlaid mother of pearl on his eyes and soles of his feet.
Next is Wat Benchamabophit. This is a beautiful marble temple built in 1899. Inside the Ordination Hall (Ubosot) is a Sukhothai-style Buddha statue named Phra Buddhajinaraja, cast in 1920 after the original located in Wat Mahathat in Phitsanulok. The ashes of King Chulalongkorn are buried beneath the statue. In the gallery surrounding the ordination hall are 52 Buddha statues, collected by Prince Damrong Rajanubhab for his king.
Lastly, is Wat Tramit, the Golden Buddha. This is a fascinating story and a temple you have to see. You need to read the history and learn how the Thai people hid this Buddha in clay to keep the Burmese from taking it and melting down the gold for war. It went undiscovered until an accident chipped away some of the clay to reveal part of the 5 tons of gold. No guards in sight as no one would dare steal it.
Whether you are religious or not, visiting the temples in Bangkok or anywhere else in Thailand is something you should do.