What does Buddha’s favourite meditation spot look like, if you really wanna know, take a peek at the famous temples inside Thailand. Made from stone to wood, and even beer bottles, famous temples in Thailand are hotspots of serenity. Soaked in a kaleidoscope of cultures, 40,717 temples in Thailand offer a mix of both Buddhist and Hindu cultures. Sadly, you can only visit 33,902!
A visit to the Thailand ancient temples is an experience. You will be surrounded by monks chanting prayers or the wind singing the bells in a nearby temple. Displaying giant Buddhas made from precious stones and concrete, we have cherry-picked 11 temples worth your time and dime!
11 Places Across Thailand Where You Will Find Famous Temples
Wat means temple in while chedi is a monument Buddhist like a stupa, in Thailand. Before we get started, a piece of advice when visiting any temple is maintaining the dress code.
Important – Dress codes do apply whole visiting all the temples to avoid entry refusal
- When you visit any Thai temples, you are always expected to dress appropriately as a form of respect.
- For ladies – Put on skirts longer than knee-length or long pants, Cleavages and shoulders should be covered appropriately and proper footwear.
- For men – Long pants should be worn by men too. Singlet are not encouraged and proper footwear is needed.
Remember to take off your shoes before entering temples!
All ready? Here we go, we selected the best temples based on the most popular regions in Thailand so that you can explore each place with leisure.
1. Wat Yai Chai Mongkol in Thailand Ancient City Ayutthaya
Famed as the largest city in the world in the 18th century, Ayutthaya stands out for its significant number of protected temples. Wat Yai Chai Mongkol is the chief attraction of visiting Ayutthaya. Located in the Historical Park of Ayutthaya, this temple was a monastery made in the 13th century by King U-Thong. It was later renovated as a fortress in the 17th century during Burmese occupation.
What to look for? The long line of majestic Buddha statues in reclining and lotus positions! It’s easy to get here from Bangkok by train, bus or taxi. Despite the fact that the train takes 2 hours, the bus takes 1.5 and the taxi takes 1 hour, the train is the unwritten best way for the journey. Every day is a special day here.
When you’re there, savour the visit to the popular Wat Phanan Choeng, known for the Buddha statue that shed tears during the Burmese occupation!
Daily- 08:00 to 17:00
2. Wat Tham Sua Tiger Cave Temple Kanchanaburi
When you’re in Kanchanaburi, take a trip to Tiger Cave Temple, locally known as Wat Tham Sua. Don’t confuse it with Tiger Temple or Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua!
Perched on a hilltop, you will see the glistening 18-meter-high giant Buddha statue from miles away. Take a spiritual rendezvous around the orange pagodas or visit the monk inside the chedi who gives blessings for offerings.
Built in the 20th century, you need to climb 157 steps to complete your pilgrimage. So, don’t hesitate to choose an affordable cable car to climb all the way to the top. Once there, enjoy the bird’s eye view and get a whiff of the Kanchanaburi rice fields from atop!
The biggest problem is reaching this wat. As is located over 800 km away from Kanchanaburi, the Tiger Cave temple can only be reached in 6-17 hours by plane, train, bus or taxi. Make sure you visit the temple from 10 am to 2 pm to see the colourful rituals as there are not many special days.
Daily- 09:00 to 18:00
3. Magnificent White Temple Wat Rong Khun In Chang Rai
Wat Rong Khun or the White Temple is the centrepiece of Chang Rai that shimmers under the sun. It sparkles due to the presence of glass in the plaster. If you are into trekking, the hike to the White Temple will be spice it up!
Ideal for art enthusiasts, this privately owned temple is designed with mirrors and reliefs, unique to the Buddhist architectural style. The temple is in fact, a huge art installation built towards the turn of the millennium in 1997. Watch closely to find the abstract art featuring karma and spaceships in this unique temple.
The coolest thing about White Temple is its Wat Rong Khun Li Light Fest that happens once a month from November 22 to December 22.
You gotta see the vibrant colours in carnelian orange to sapphire blue shimmering on the white temple. It is less than 20 minutes from Chang Rai, so add it to the top of your list!
Daily- 06:00 to 18:00
4. Isan Stairway to Heaven Wat Phu Tok
Designed to encircle the 359-meter-high sandstone summit, Wat Phu Tok is located in a cave. Just perfect, right? There’s more where it came from! The architecture is built on the side of the mountain with stone staircases and wooden walkways. The fun part is it is one of the forest temples in Thailand also on a mountain.
Famed for its real-life incarnation of Stairway to Heaven, Wat Phu Tok has 7 levels, with entry permitted until fifth. While you can finish the trek in an hour, it’s best to enjoy it slowly admiring the open air.
The smartest way to plan Wat Phu Tok is by visiting the Bueng Khan town and make a day trip to the temple 35 km away. Looks much like an island in the clouds!
Daily- 06:00 to 18:00
5. Prasat Hin Hindu temple In Phanom Rung
Prasat Hin in Phanom Rung is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, from the Khmer empire. It is built atop a hill; and hence, offers panoramic sights of the greenery around. The exciting thing is its insane location at the rim of an extinct volcano.
Strolling through the 160m long walkway that highlights 70 sandstone posts adorned with lotus buds, you will reach the centre of the temple called the inner sanctuary. Spend a few moments to enjoy the lotus ponds surrounding the wat. Carved from pink sandstone, it represents the centre of the universe for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains.
You need to see the rising sun through the 15 doors of the gopura (tower) to appreciate the architectural style of 10th century A.D. But, there’s a catch! It can be seen on the 15th day of waxing moon morning, in the 5th month of the lunar calendar (roughly March, April, September and October). The celebration of this auspicious event is Phanom Rung Festival!
Be sure to check out, just 10 minutes away from Phanom Rung. Bear in mind, there are no public buses to reach the Hindu temple of Prasat Mueang Tam. Rent out a scooter, bike or car and take Route 2044 or 3054 to reach the wat.
Daily- 06:00 to 18:00
6. Sukothai Temple of the Bodhi Tree Wat Si Chun
While you can get lost among the 200 temples in Sukhothai, there is one that’s exceptionally designed. Wat Si Chun translates to the Temple of the Bodhi Tree. Sitting in the mudra for touching the earth, the Buddha statue here is called the Pra Achana Buddha. It is 15m high and partially visible like an ancient artwork from far off. Once called the speaking Buddha, the statue now sits beneath the ruins of a bygone roof under the open sky.
Try your luck at the 13th century Buddha with his right hand covered in gold. Go through the impressive remnants of Jataka tales (story of Buddha) or admire the strong stone walls that bask in the ancient Buddhist glory.
Do remember to jot down the dates of the full moon in the 12th month of the lunar calendar, because the candlelight festival is a must-see here. To be honest, all of Thailand celebrates this full moon festival called the Loi Krathong. The best bit is that Sukhothai is where the festival first all started!
Daily: 09:00 to 18:00
7. The Big 4 In Bangkok
Guess the total number of temples in Bangkok? It’s 400! Unless you have a year’s trip planned, you should check out these 4 landmark temples of Thailand we selected.
How long will it take me to cover one temple? While it’s mostly hot outside, the good news is you can still complete a handful of these temples in a day or two. Carry 100 Baht to 400 Baht for each temple you visit!
Every year from November 1 to 10th. The Bangkok Songkran Splendors Festival also starts from Wat Pho. Just 5 minutes from Bangkok!
Wat Phra Kaew is the Temple of Emerald Buddha housed inside the Grand Palace, beside Wat Pho. The Emerald Buddha will knock your socks away because it is carved from one solid block of gemstone jade.
But, that’s not all! Wat Phra Kaew has over 100 buildings inside! It is open to the public only when unused by the Royal family for religious ceremonies. While it’s just 3 minutes from Bangkok
Only the King is allowed to touch the Emerald Buddha
You are not allowed to take pictures
Temple Of The Emerald Buddha – Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Pho is the first on our list because it features the oldest and the largest image of the reclining Buddha in Bangkok. Stretched across 46 meters in gold and mother of pearl, the sight of it stops the heart, I swear! You can go buy gold coins (at the entrance) to drop in the hundreds of bronze bowls on the wall. The highlight reel of Wat Pho is the Grand Anniversary Festival, you should always check ahead.
Wat Pho – Reclining Buddha
Wat Saket or Temple of the Golden Mount is a shrine from the age of King Rama I. Brace yourself for a tough ride because there are 344 steps designed spirally-uphill to reach the temple. It’s quite a challenge! Your reward will taste sweeter when you see the golden Buddha shining through the foliage with every flight of stairs you take.
Don’t forget to ring the bells along the stairways because they bring you luck! Wat Saket celebrates the 12th lunar month full moon for 7 days, lasting until the full moon. So make sure you plan well to see this dazzling ritual. A five-minute ride from Bangkok city!
Temple of Golden Mount Shrine – Wat Saket
The Temple of Dawn or Wat Arun is most enchanting at sunrise. The best attraction of the Arun temple is the stunning Buddha statue designed by King Rama II. Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya river, it is even more magnificent to wallow in the evenings. You ought to see the luminous Thai arts festival held annually in Wat Arun on August 13 every year. It’s a Thai cultural extravaganza you could die for. Roughly 10-minutes side-trip.
Wat Arun – Temple of Dawn
You ought to see the luminous Thai arts festival held annually in Wat Arun on August 13 every year. It’s a Thai cultural extravaganza you could die for. Roughly 10-minutes side-trip.
8. Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri Buddha Of Phuket
Located around Phuket’s picture-perfect sunset viewpoint is the Big Buddha, overlooking the Andaman sea. It is fenced by the tropical rainforests and harmonized by the sounds of bells from sacred wats in the vicinity.
Next to Kata Beach, Big Buddha is easy to reach by taxi in about 30 minutes from Phuket town. Don’t look for trains on this route, you won’t find any. What’s the best time to enjoy the all-embracing view from Big Buddha? Plan your sightseeing during sunset because flashes of sun on the Buddha made of white jade marble is a force of attraction not to miss.
Also known as Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri Buddha, Big Buddha was built in the 21st century. Hold your attention because there are several small Buddhas around the Big Buddha too. However, the small one adorned in 20 tons of glistening brass is green takes all the attention.
Sponsor a white marble to be part of history at Big Buddha as the construction is still going on!
Daily- 06:00 to 19:00
9. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Chang Mai
While the main attractions in Chang Mai are the waterfalls and crocodile salamanders, there are 300+ temples in Chang Mai. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep or Wat Doi Suthep is our favourite Theravada Buddhist temple.
It was built in the 14th century to secure the shoulder bone of Buddha. Lined with intricate shrines, rock gardens and breadfruit trees, the gold plated chedi inside the temple extends 79 feet upwards.
Being set along with the Chang Mai Zoo, the wat is known for its wild flora and fauna. If you’re touring Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, don’t miss the fire lanterns on Loi Krathong, the full moon festival. You can also schedule your trip around the Visakha Bucha festival to join the candlelight walk in the evening to the temple. It has a quaint thing of charm!
There is a saying- ‘if you haven’t had Khao Soi or seen the view from Doi Suthep, you haven’t been to Chiang Mai!’ Make sure you do both. Best seen at the break of dawn or afternoon!
Daily- 05:00 to 21:00
10. Biggest Wooden Temple In The World Is In Pattaya-Prasat Sut Ja-Tum
Soaked in the lush history of Hindu and Buddhist architecture, the Sanctuary of Truth or Prasat Sut Ja-Tum is the biggest wooden temple in the world. It’ll be ready in 2050! The intricate architecture resembles a cathedral with varieties of wood and texture in different places.
It is a wooden temple carved in astonishing precision right by the beach. To value and comprehend its magnificence, come visit during the Songkran Festival ceremonies. You can start your Thai temple trip by flying to Pattaya and taking a 30-minute taxi to Prasat Sit Ja-Tum.
The limelight of Sanctuary of Truth is actually the statute of Brahma on the rooftop. Hang in there until you see it. Also, check out the viewpoint right before the entrance of the cathedral temple to see the building floating on the sea which is simply magical.
Daily- 08:00 to 18:00
11. Wat Hatyai Nai Of Hatyai
Greet the third largest reclining statue on Earth in Hat Yai at Wat Hatyai Nai. Widely known as the most beautiful sleeping Buddha, this roofless temple can be covered in less than 2 hours on a busy day. You will find small Buddha statues all around Wat Hatyai Nai.
If you are going to rent a scooter, Wat Hatyai Nai is just 5 minutes away from the Hatyai Clock Tower. While there two reclining Buddha statues in Hatyai, this is the oldest one. If you’re intrigued by the atmosphere around this temple, scout the underground room to see glimpses into the temple’s past.
If you want to see the temple light up? Go out on the New Year’s Eve. It’s a quick stop to offer prayers, feed the fish or check the fortune-telling machine. However, please watch out for tourist traps like big donation forms or exorbitantly priced joss sticks at the temple!
Daily- 08:00 to 21:00
Before you go …
If you feel you are approaching ‘wat burnout’, mix up your itinerary with floating markets apart from temples. Remember that every temple is a center of worship. Please treat it with respect even if you’re not a believer.
I hope you are smitten by our list of famous temples in Thailand and it should fill up your bucket list.