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Bangkok Travel Guide | Markets | Culture | Sightseeing | Transportation

► Sightseeing: The Temples and Wats of Bangkok

The many temples of Bangkok are unique and inspiring, each in their own way, and tourists are welcome to visit. Below are some of the most temples in Bangkok that should not be missed, listed in alphabetical order. And to get a better feel for everyday Thai devotion, try to stop by a small neighborhood temple as well. Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) Rising above the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun is one of Bangkok's major landmarks. Wat Benjamabophit (Marble Temple) Perhaps the most beautiful of Bangkok's temples, Wat Benajambophit combines western religious influences (stained-glass windows!) with an interesting collection of bronze Buddhas. Today it is an important center of Buddhist monastic learning. Wat Mahathat (Temple of the Great Relic) One of Bangkok's oldest sacred sites and the home of the Center for Vipissana Meditation at Buddhist University. The biggest amulet market is next door. Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) The oldest and largest temple in Bangkok, the main attraction is its giant, golden Reclining Buddha. The temple is the home of traditional Thai massage. Wat Phra Keo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) Located in the Grand Palace, this is the most revered shrine in Thailand. It features a green Buddha statue about 2 feet tall, which only the king can approach in official rituals. Wat Saket (The Golden Mount) An exhausting climb up to the gilded chedi provides a nice view, and an important festival is held here each November. Wat Suthat (Giant Swing) This large, old and beautiful temple encompasses a variety of religious traditions, with a Buddha image, Chinese pagodas, Hindu shrines, and the remains of an ancient swing used in a ritual dedicated to Shiva. Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha) An otherwise unremarkable temple that houses a huge, beautiful, solid-gold Buddha image, created in the 1700s and rediscovered in 1957.

► Top 10 Sightseeing Destinations

Wat Pra Kaew and Grand Palace Complex

The royal complex, located on Ko Ratanakosin, an artificial island by the Chao Praya River, includes Wat Phra Kaew (1) – the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The sacred statue itself is housed in a richly decorated hall while the temple walls are covered with exquisite murals of the Ramakien, Thailand’s interpretation of the Ramayana. The Grand Palace, a curious blend of Italian Renaissance and Thai architecture, was designed by British architects in 1882. Visitors must be covered up.

Contact: 00-66-2-2241833.
Opening hours: Daily 08:30 - 15:30
Admission: 350 THB, including entry to Dusit Palace Park
Transport: Tha Chang Pier or Taxi

Wat Po

Home to a 150 ft-long reclining Buddha, Wat Po also houses the largest collection of Buddha images in the country. Traditional massages offered here are highly recommended, and visitors who want to learn about Thai massage should begin here.

Contact: 00-66-2-2219911
Opening hours: Daily 08:00 - 17:00
Admission: 50 THB
Transport: Tha Thien Pier or Taxi

National Museum

The country’s largest museum on Na Phra That Road, offers exhibitions illustrating Thai history, plus collections of Buddha images, textiles, ceramics, musical instruments and weapons. The guided tours in English, 09:30 Wed-Thur are recommended.

Contact: 00-66-2-2241333
Opening hours: Wed-Sun, 09:00 - 15:30
Admission: 200 THB
Transport: Tha Chang Pier or Taxi

Dusit Palace Park

This park contains various palaces and museums, including the attractive Vimarnmaek Teak Mansion (compulsory tours in English every 30 minutes, 09.30 - 15:00) - the world’s largest teak building, apparently, containing a vast collection of royal antiques. Visitors must be covered up.

Location: Ratchawithi/Ratchasima Road
Contact: 00-66-2-6286300.
Opening hours: Daily 09.30 - 16:00
Admission: Adult 100 THB, child 50 THB, free with same-day Grand Palace ticket.
Transport: Taxi

Wat Aroon

The spectacular 19th-century Temple of Dawn rises on the western bank of the Chao Praya, its main tower covered with impressive mosaics made from shards of Chinese porcelain.

Location: Arun Amarin Road, Thonburi district.
Contact: 00-6-2-8911149
Opening hours: Daily 09:00 - 17:00
Admission: 20 THB
Transport: Tha Thai Wang Pier

Wat Traimit, Chinatown

Bangkok’s Chinatown was founded in 1782 and is a warren of narrow alleys, incredibly congested roads and street markets. Wat Traimit contains a 10ft-tall solid gold Buddha. Pahurat, to the south-east of Chinatown, is Bangkok’s lively Indian community.

Location: Wat Traimit – Yaowarat Road
Contact: 00-66-2-2259775
Opening hours: Daily 09:00 - 17:00
Admission: 20 THB
Transport: MRT Hualamphong, or Taxi

Lumphini Park

Named after the Buddha’s birthplace, Central Bangkok’s only spot of green offers an artificial lake and well-kept lawns. Early in the morning, locals practice t’ai chi, while in the late afternoons aerobics classes shatter the peace; prostitutes take over at nightfall.

Location: Rama IV, Wireless and Ratchadamri Road
Opening hours: Daily 05:00 - 08:00
Admission: Free
Transport: MRT Lumphini, BTS Sala Daeng

Jim Thompson’s House

These traditional wooden Thai houses (8), in a wonderful garden compound, were once the home of Thompson – the US spy and founder of the Thai silk industry, who mysteriously disappeared in Malaysia in 1967. The main house contains a collection of antiques and personal belongings (compulsory tours in English every 10 minutes).

Location: 6 Soi Kasem San 2.
Contact: 00-66-2-2167368
Opening hours: Daily 09:00 - 17:00
Admission: Adult 100 THB, Child 50 THB
Transport: BTS National Stadium.

Mahariamman Temple

Impressive southern Indian-style temple built in the 1860s, open to non-Hindus. The nearby Kathmandu Gallery on Pan Road features regular photo exhibitions.

Location: Corner of Silom Road and Pan Road
Opening hours: Daily 06:00 - 08:00
Admission: Free
Transport: BTS Surasak

Tha Pra Chan

This sprawling riverside market sells religious amulets and carvings, including wooden phallic fertility symbols and a huge variety of brass figures. Several small restaurants with river views offer good local fare.

Location: Maharat Road
Opening hours: Daily 09:00 - 17:00
Admission: Free
Transport: Tha Chang Pier

► Day Trips

Ko Kret – an island in the sun

Visitors looking for respite from urban congestion will find a perfect getaway along the Chao Praya River, an hour north of the city. The artificial island of Ko Kret is home to the Mon, a minority specialising in pottery production. Numerous workshops can be found on this traffic-free speck of green. At weekends, Ko Kret is popular with Thai day-trippers and countless food and souvenir stalls open along the narrow paths that crisscross the island.

Admission: Free.

Transport: On weekdays, take a taxi to Pak Kret, then the cross-river ferry. On Saturdays and Sundays, Chao Praya Express (00-66-2-6236001, operates ferries from Tha Sathon Pier, 10:00 - 16:45 Adult fare 300 THB Child 250 baht.

Taling Chan Floating Market

Bangkok’s floating markets – a network of canals teeming with small samphans, (narrow rowing boats), whose owners sell noodles, fruit and many Thai snacks – have long been a highlight on tourist itineraries. Taling Chan, about nine miles north-west of Bangkok, is one of the most accessible. Restaurants and shops line the canal banks. Location: Klong Chak Phra, Thonburi district.

Admission: Free
Opening hours: Sat - Sun 08:00 - 17:00
Transport: Taxi

Wednesday, October 16, 2019