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 Phang Nga province. The statue depicts Phor Than Klai, one of the most famous guru monks of his generation (1876-1970).
Wat Pho, or The Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is a temple complex located in Bangkok’s Old City on Rattanakosin Island just south of the Grand Palace. The complex has the largest collection of Buddha statues in Thailand with the massive reclining Buddha as the big attraction.
The temple is classed as the highest grade of the first-class royal temples in Thailand and was featured in world’s top 25 landmarks by TripAdvisors Travelers’ Choice Awards 2016. This place is the real deal!
When my wife drove to Koh Sirey on the east side of Phuket Town, I had no idea I was on a small island. Koh Sirey (or Koh Siray) is so close to shore that it feels more like a cape. Just 20 km2, this area offers a completely different side of Phuket. Think Phuket 20-30 years ago. Think mangroves and rubber plantations. There’s even a sea gypsie village here, known locally as “Chao Ley.” Now we didn’t get to explore the island that much; we came just before sunset to visit the Koh Sirey Temple: a replica of the famous Kyaiktiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock) in Burma (Myanmar).
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.
The Grand Palace is a must-see in Bangkok, but you should be ready for tons of tourists. This impressive complex of buildings is unquestionably the most famous landmarks in Bangkok and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand. For 150 years the palace was home to the King and the entire government. Thai Kings stopped living in the palace full time until 1925. The complex also includes the Wat Phra Kaeworthe Temple of the Emerald Buddha; the most famous temple in Thailand.
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.
Ayutthaya, or Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, was once the capital of Thailand (known as Siam back then) and considered the most spectacular place on Earth. In the 1700s, Ayutthaya was the largest and wealthiest city in Asia with 1,700 temples and over 4,000 golden Buddha statues. In 1767, all this came to an end during the Burmese invasion, and the city was almost completely destroyed. UNESCO has granted the spectacular ruins that now remain World Heritage status.
Ayutthaya is about 80 km north of Bangkok, and for as little as 60 baht you can go there by minivan from Victory Monument BTS (Skytrain). To find the van zone, head out of the BTS station at exit 4 and ask your way.
The Historical Park is huge (see the map further down on this page), and some people rent bicycles on arrival. We hired a tuk-tuk, and the driver showed us a map of the park, and we told him what temples we wanted to see. We came here for the temples that appear in the movies Mortal Kombat and Kickboxer with Jean-Claude Van Damme. Yay! We visited six different temples, but there are over 20 impressive temples here.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram, situated by the Chao Phraya River, appears in the movie Mortal Kombat. The temple was constructed in 1630 by the King Prasat Thong. The central prang (reliquary tower) is believed to contain relics of the Lord Buddha.