Thailand’s Buddhist Temples and Monasteries

Thai Buddhist temples and monasteries

Thailand is a Buddhist nation and temples play an integral role in Thai culture. Locals visit these temples regularly in order to pray to Buddha or make merit, or simply converse with monks who often offer guidance or advisement from behind closed doors.

Wats generally follow a daily schedule that involves laypeople making offerings, listening to sermons, chanting refuges and precepts, as well as practicing meditation on full and new moon days.

Wat Benchamabophit

Wat Benchamabophit Temple in Bangkok’s Dusit district is a beloved tourist destination, famous for its Italian Carrara marble pillars and courtyard.

At the main temple compound, there are pleasant walkways connecting all of its structures – such as Song Phanuat Hall (residence of the abbot), Song Dharm Hall (used for lying-in state of members of the Royal family and high officials), and Bovornvong Bell Tower.

Bodhi tree imported from India also stands out at this temple in Bangkok; it is said to have been at the source of Buddha’s enlightenment, thus making it a sacred relic.

Bangkok visitors simply must see this temple! Its iconic facade features on the reverse side of a Thai 5 Baht coin and stands as one of its premier attractions.

It was featured on The Amazing Race 9, as well as being designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and listed as cultural monument by Thailand’s government.

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok is not only an important religious site, but it’s also an architectural delight with its layered roofs, golden carvings, and curved roof corners – an absolutely captivating sight!

Early each morning, you’ll see people lining up at the gates of temples to offer gifts to monks such as incense, rice, curry or other foodstuffs.

The cloister surrounding Thailand’s main temple ubosot (ubosot in Thai) is home to 52 Buddha statues depicting various poses from all across Thailand.

Wat Benchamabophit houses not only its main chapel but also an array of significant Buddha images, including King Chulalongkorn’s 700-year-old duplicate Phra Buddha Chinnarat statue which holds King Rama V’s ashes beneath it.

Temple hours for tourists: 8.00 am to 5.30 pm daily and are free of charge. Arriving early or later in the evening when temperatures are more comfortable is highly recommended.

Wat Phra Dhammakaya

Wat Phra Dhammakaya, located in Bangkok, is an extensive Buddhist temple and widely recognized. Over time it has expanded to encompass modern buildings – most notably a flying-saucer-shaped chedi (stupa). This unique feature makes the Wat Phra Dhammakaya experience all the more unforgettable.

Temple Dhammajayo has long been considered controversial due to its alleged links with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his government, while its Abbot, Luang Por Dhammajayo has been wanted on money-laundering charges and remains under military arrest.

Temple has an enormous following, with monks who are considered among the most influential in Thailand. It’s a popular location for meditation sessions, and their saffron-robed monks are known for being friendly towards all who come seeking peace through meditation.

While its majority followers are Buddhists, its meditation sessions also attract non-Buddhists such as people seeking a spiritually uplifting atmosphere or looking to break free of an addiction problem.

In the late 1990s, this temple established programs designed to engage the general public with Buddhism practices and utilize modern media on an unprecedented scale to project its philosophy and raise funds.

These programs included seminars on ‘World Morality Revival’ held both domestically and abroad; an annual V-Star Day where celebrities and politicians made speeches about their virtues; as well as several Selfless Service programs designed to teach people how to work for the benefit of others.

Even though the World Morality Revival programs were successful, some Thai religious scholars voiced objections against them as not following traditional Buddhism and having no relation with worldly activity.

However, the temple remains an attractive destination. Notable are its impressive structures – often considered among Thailand’s finest – as well as an array of events and festivals which draw crowds of all sorts to visit it.

Temple also houses an impressive library about Buddha’s life and teachings; including many English translations – an invaluable resource for researchers.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho is a temple complex filled with stunning buildings and features, from its massive reclining Buddha statue to beautiful chedis – providing plenty of opportunities to see and do something interesting during your visit.

As one of Bangkok’s best-known and largest Buddhist temples, Wat Traimit draws many visitors. Originally constructed as a monastery during Ayutthaya period, King Rama III extended it and turned the complex into an education center as part of his kingdom rule from 1832-1859.

Temple buildings are typically surrounded by courtyards and pillars on all sides, creating an environment which may initially seem daunting or confusing for foreign visitors. To avoid getting overwhelmed, foreign visitors should enter each building step by step while exploring the complex as you go.

As most tourists flock to see the massive Reclining Buddha statue that dominates the complex, many other spectacular features can also be discovered here. Some examples are: an Ayutthaya period Buddha image; late 19th-century gilted images; intricate murals.

Wat Pho stands out as an outstanding landmark with its centuries-old cloisters, which house various Buddha images from throughout ancient cities during King Rama I’s rule and feature 150 from within its inner cloister, while 244 decorate its outer one.

Temples serve not only for religious ceremonies but also as educational facilities that host several school buildings. Visitors are required to wear clothing that does not reveal themselves such as shorts and sleeveless tops within their entry to the complex; any revealing clothing will not be permitted inside.

As with any Thai temple, a dress code must be observed and you may be denied entry if it’s disregarded. When wearing shorts, knees and shoulders should be covered to meet this standard; stretch pants are prohibited as well.

Men should wear long trousers, while women should refrain from wearing skirts that expose their knees or shoulders. In addition, shoes must be removed before entering any buildings within the temple complex.

Wat Pho is a fascinating cultural icon, so it is crucial that visitors adhere to its dress regulations. If unsure, ask locals or visit the tourist office prior to leaving your hotel for advice on what attire is acceptable.

Wat Ratchaburana

Wat Ratchaburana Temple in Phitsanulok is an important tourist destination and one of the oldest structures in Phitsanulok with an exquisite ancient chedi, making this attraction one of the top attractions.

Built by King Purumara Chathirat II as a memorial to his two older brothers in 1424 on Ayutthaya Island as part of their historical culture and architecture, this temple complex is recognized by UNESCO World Heritage as an impressive structure in Ayutthaya.

Temple Crypt of Ayutthaya: Home to its Most Prized Relics The temple crypt contains some of Ayutthaya’s greatest treasures, such as votive tablets and golden Royal regalia. Many artifacts were stolen during Burmese Invasion of 1767 but eventually recovered by King’s Heirs.

One of Ayutthaya’s most impressive temples, this structure features a central prang (tower) and several viharns (assembly halls). Although visitors are allowed to enter, its interior can become damp and dark over time.

At a prang you will see statues of kinnaras (half-human, half-bird) and other guardian warriors as well as frescoes that are amongst some of Thailand’s oldest. Additionally, there may also be opportunities for close inspection of frescoes from within which are amongst some of its oldest frescoes.

Check out the museum, as it boasts an impressive collection of golden artifacts and Buddha images as well as wooden door panels from that era – these pieces should all make for interesting viewing!

Make the most of your visit to Ayutthaya by booking a tour that visits all the main sites and attractions in the city. That way, you’ll enjoy an educational guided tour from a professional guide who can share all about its rich history and culture.

Ayutthaya is famous for its temples, so be sure to visit each and every one of them! For an itinerary featuring all of Ayutthaya’s best attractions, our Ayutthaya Day Tour may be ideal.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, why not book a bike tour of Ayutthaya to experience all of its main sites. Or rent a long-tail boat and see everything from water level.