the best of Bangkok's temples: which ones you can't miss + everything you need to know

I remember my very first visit to Thailand. I was impossibly young and a bit naive. It was my first time in Asia and I was very green. I almost kind of miss that version of myself ha! Thailand seemed like a good place to start in Asia since it’s incredibly modern {especially compared to Cambodia + Laos}, and seemed to be a travel blogging mecca. It’s a place heaps of people go for honeymoons and backpacking the Banana Pancake Trail. It offers a lot of Western comforts, famous Thai hospitality and food, and glorious, glorious temples.

Today, I’m sharing my favourite temples in Bangkok and everything you need to know about them before visiting! You can also watch my YouTube video of highlights from my latest trip to Bangkok here.

TEMPLE ETIQUETTE

I’ve written multiple posts on temple etiquette in Southeast Asia as seeing tourists walk into temples without being properly covered or respecting the noise level is something that seriously chaps my khakis. Please make sure you put cultural preservation at the forefront of your brain while touring the temples of Thailand— read signs and ask locals if you have any questions.

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 can you spot me?

can you spot me?

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WAT ARUN

{THE TEMPLE OF DAWN}

Wat Arun is my favourite temple in Bangkok, which is why when I returned again this go around, I made sure we made a stop {Tavener had never been}. In 2013, you could still climb all the way up, so I was disappointed that the stairs had been roped off. Still, the intricate details {love a good detail} and steep vertical incline with views of the river make it a winner for me.

I’d stop at Wat Arun first thing in the morning for two reasons. The first is that it’s smaller, so as crowds grow, dodging people for photos gets harder and harder and space available becomes less and less. Secondly, as the heat gets worse in the afternoon,

HOW TO GET THERE: You will need to get a ferry to Wat Arun.

COST: ฿50 + the cost of a local ferry ฿15

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WAT PHO

{TEMPLE OF THE RECLINING BUDDHA}

Wat Pho is known for the giant, golden reclining Buddha it is home to. The Buddha is breathtaking and the grounds surrounding the temple housing it glimmer in the sunshine. It’s worth spending some extra time at Wat Pho to explore every nook and cranny.

You entrance ticket comes with a free bottled water. Instead of taking the free plastic bottle provided, I suggest bringing your own reusable one— there are faucets supplying cold drinking water for you to use, so you can get free water without having to add to landfills.

HOW TO GET THERE: Take a ferry from Wat Arun straight over to Wat Pho. The wooden dock practically funnels tourists to the white walls surrounding the temple.

COST: ฿100 + the cost of a local ferry ฿15

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WAT PHRA KAEW

{THE GRAND PALACE + TEMPLE OF THE EMERALD BUDDHA}

This is the most expensive admission out of the temples on this list, however, I’d say visiting the Grand Palace is inarguably worth it. Because of its cultural importance, gate guards are extra particular about what counts as suitable attire for those wanting to be admitted. My friend, Sam, who happens to be from Bangkok {born and bred} and a tour guide, told me on my first trip to the temple that not only do you need your shoulder and knees covered, you can’t be wearing anything too tight.

The grounds take a large chunk of time to wander through and you’ll want to give yourself time so that you can make the most of the money you spent on your admission ticket.

The Grand Palace gets massively crowded and, thanks to the hoards of people and closely constructed buildings, it’s very hot. I suggest bringing your own water bottle.

HOW TO GET THERE: You can get to the Grand Palace from Wat Pho simply by walking around the corner. Walking takes about 8 minutes to the ticket stand. You will see signage directing you as well as tourists lining up to get their tickets.

COST: ฿500

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LOHA PRASAT

{WAT RATCHANATDARAM}

Loha Prasat or the Metal Castle as it’s also referred to is under UNESCO consideration since it’s one of the only of its kind architecturally speaking. Despite being on the list to be a World Heritage Site, locals aren’t that keen. Why? The temple used to be black and white, but the government made changes so that it fit in better with the aesthetics of the city. Apparently, people weren’t too happy about the modern changes.

While the locals might have their issues with the temple, I personally found it beautiful and highly underrated. Walking up the stairs and through the maze of floors, every level offers a different perspective of the city below, showcasing how Bangkok is truly a mix of modern and ancient.

HOW TO GET THERE: It’s located next to the Golden Mountain Temple, but is a bit of a walk from the Grand Palace. Grab a tuk-tuk or order a Grab taxi to avoid the heat if you aren’t up for the trot.

COST: FREE, ฿20 donation encouraged

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WAT SAKET

{GOLDen MOUNTain Temple}

Honestly, the views of Bangkok were worth the walk up, but the mount itself wasn’t that impressive comparatively. If you can make it for a sunset, it’ll be more impressive than a midday visit. This time around, I made the trip first thing in the morning and the sun hit the gold on the top pagoda making it absolutely luminous.

A visit doesn’t take long and, unlike other sacred monuments, you are asked to keep your shoes on when visiting.

HOW TO GET THERE: Walk across the road from Loha Prasat, it takes approximately 3-5 minutes.

COST: ฿50

 You may have seen this photo on Instagram. Something was missing, right? I took out the two tourists at the bottom right! However, for the sake of keeping things real, I wanted to share it this way too.

You may have seen this photo on Instagram. Something was missing, right? I took out the two tourists at the bottom right! However, for the sake of keeping things real, I wanted to share it this way too.

Checking out the gorgeous temples in Southeast Asia never gets old, we just have to make sure, as visitors, that we are doing it right. A DIY temple tour is a must for anyone spending time in Thailand’s capital city.


THE ORANGE DOTS BELOW MAP THE TEMPLES MENTIONED IN THIS BLOG!

WATCH HIGHLIGHTS FROM MY TIME TEMPLE HOPPING THIS TIME AROUND


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