I like visiting temples. There is something holy about them. Something fascinating. And they play an important role for Thai people. In Thailand, a Buddhist temple is known as “wat,” which consists of two parts: the Phutthawat and the Sangkhawat. The Phutthawat is the area which is dedicated to Buddha and Sangkhawat is where the monks live while in practice. Below are the temples I have visited; big, small, crowded, deserted and even ruins. I love them all.
Wat Khuan Bosut, Thung Yai
Wat Khuan Bosutin is one of those deserted temples in the middle of nowhere, and the only reason we stopped here was that someone needed to visit the ladies’. I loved the architecture with the golden Naga sculptures on the staircase rail, and after doing a lap around the temple, I took this shot with my camera’s self-timer. Wat Khuan Bosutin is located in Thung Yai, a district of Nakhon Si Thammarat Province.
Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok
Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), located in the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok, is the most famous temple and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand. This site with more than 100 buildings representing 200 years of royal history is just bloody impressive.
Wat Chalong, Phuket
Wat Chalong (Chalong Temple), built at the beginning of the 19th century, is the largest and most visited of the 29 Buddhist temples of Phuket. Many couples come here to take their pre-wedding photos – like this couple that happily let me photograph them. Note the shoes outside the temple. Shoes are never allowed inside a temple, so be sure to leave yours outside too.
Wat Pho, Bangkok
Wat Pho, or The Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is a temple complex located in Bangkok’s Old City on Rattanakosin Island south of the Grand Palace. The complex has the largest collection of buddha statues in Thailand with the 46 meters long reclining Buddha as the big attraction.
Wat Kaew Korawaram, Krabi
Wat Kaew Korawaram is located on a hill with an impressive staircase with golden Naga sculptures in the middle of Krabi Town. Unlike many other temples in Thailand, Wat Kaew Korawaram is white with blue roofs. This site is not touristy – in fact, there are almost no people here. My wife and I took some of our pre-wedding photos here.
Wat Arun, Bangkok
Wat Arun (or temple of the dawn), locally known as Wat Chaeng, is situated by the Chao Phraya River. The temple derives its name from the Hindu god Aruna. The 70m (230ft) spire is easily one of the most stunning temples in Bangkok and among the best known of Thailand’s landmarks.
Wat That Noi, Nakhon Si Thammarat
Wat That Noi in Nakhon Si Thammarat was the residence of Phor Than Klai, one of the most famous guru monks of his generation (1876-1970). The temple includes a wax reproduction of the monk as well as a huge reclining Buddha. Wat That Noi is not as famous as Wat Phra Mahathat – another temple in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Wat Phra Mahathat, Nakhon Si Thammarat
Wat Phra Mahathat is the most famous temple of Nakhon Si Thammarat and southern Thailand. It was constructed at the time when the town was founded, about 800 years ago, and contains a tooth relic of the Lord Buddha. The 78 meters high chedi, build in Sri Lankan style, is surrounded by 173 smaller ones.
Wat Koh Sirey, Phuket
The temple on Koh Sirey, a small Island on the east side of Phuket Town is a replica of the famous Kyaiktiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock) in Burma (Myanmar). The view from up here overlooking Phuket Town and Koh Sirey is pretty stunning. The temple also houses a golden reclining Buddha.
Wat Manee Sri Mahathat, Phang Nga
If you have been driving along Route 4 from Phuket to Krabi or vice versa, you couldn’t have missed the huge black monk statue facing the highway in Takua Thung, Phang Nga province. The statue depicts Phor Than Klai – the same monk depicted at Wat That Noi, Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Wat Tham Suea, Krabi
Wat Tham Suea, or better known as The Tiger Cave Temple, is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Krabi Province. It’s famous for the tiger paw prints in the cave and the stairway with 1,237 steps leading to the top of the mountain where a large golden Buddha statue sits. Now, we didn’t reach the summit since my lovely wife wanted to go back down after 673 steps. I didn’t argue with her since I was pretty exhausted myself.
Wat Phra Yai, Koh Samui
Koh Samui’s most impressive landmark is the Big Buddha that was built in 1972. This golden colored Buddha statue sits at 12 meters high at the top of a staircase. The Buddha statue is located inside the Wat Phra Yai, meaning Big Buddha Temple. The temple is built on a small island, connected to Koh Samui with a causeway, located in the Northeast of Samui.
Wat Plai Laem, Koh Samui
Wat Plai Laem is a relatively new temple, located close the Big Buddha. Features at Wat Plai Laem includes a fat laughing Buddha statue and the Guanyin statue with 18 arms. Guanyin is the “goddess” of compassion and mercy. The temple’s design incorporates a mix of Chinese and Thai traditions.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Ayutthaya
The ruins of Ayutthaya is a spectacular site with over 20 impressive temples. Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the largest and most significant temple since it was used as the royal temple and palace for several Ayutthaya kings. The picture above shows two of the three chedis at Wat Phra Si Sanphet – one of the landmarks of the Ayutthaya Historical Park. Other facts: Bon Jovi’s song This Ain’t A Love Song was filmed at Wat Phra Si Sanphet, as well as the movie Mortal Kombat.
Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya
The head of Buddha, with a tree trunk and roots growing around it at Wat Mahathat (Temple of the Great Relics), is the most iconic image in Ayutthaya. Wat Mahathat is located in the center of Ayutthaya and is believed to be built during the 14th century.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Ayutthaya
Wat Chaiwatthanaram, situated by the Chao Phraya River, was constructed in 1630 by the King Prasat Thong. The central prang (reliquary tower) is believed to contain relics of the Lord Buddha. This temple is my favorite temple ruin. In total, we visited six temples in Ayutthaya. Other facts: The movie Mortal Kombat was filmed at Wat Chaiwatthanaram.