10 Most Stunning Temples in Thailand

by Kasem Niran
White temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Thailand is a gold mine for anybody interested in learning about religions from across the globe. There are many beautiful Buddhist temples around the country. Some of them have been there for centuries, while others were built recently. Thailand’s temples come in a wide variety of materials, from wood and stone to repurposed beer bottles, but no matter what you choose to see inside, you’re sure to find serenity. Consider yourself very fortunate if your visit coincides with one of the services.

10. Sanctuary of Truth

Elephant ride at Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya, Thailand

Visitors enjoying an elephant ride at the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya, Thailand. Image source: Sergii Figurnyi/Shutterstock.com

When you hear the word “impressive,” think of Pattaya’s Sanctuary of Truth. The whole wooden building is covered with ornate carvings of Buddhist and Hindu motifs.

It’s a very modern temple that has been under construction since 1981 and won’t be finished until 2050. Its goal is to pay homage to the ancient values of the earth, knowledge, and Eastern philosophy by imparting lessons on personal accountability, philosophical development, the natural order of things, and the interconnectedness of all life.

9. Wat Phra That Lampang Luang

Wat Phra That Lampang Luang Temple in Thailand

Scenic view of the Wat Phra That Lampang Luang Temple in Thailand. Image source: Bangprikphoto/Shutterstock.com

The temple of Wat Phra That Lampang Luang is considered to be among the holiest in Thailand since it has a hair of the Buddha. This structure is also hailed as a prime example of Lanna style. More than 400 meters (125 feet) in height, the temple’s stupa (a conical spire) dates back to the 13th century. This temple, in contrast to others that have been updated, has been returned to its original glory.

8. Temple of a Million Bottles

Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew Temple made of bottles in Thailand

View of the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew Temple made of bottles in Thailand. Image source: 2p2play/Shutterstock.com

Even among Thailand’s many Buddhist temples, the Temple of a Million Bottles (Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew) stands out as one of the most unusual. Nearly 1.5 million glass bottles were recycled for use in the building’s construction; glass bottles were even used in the toilets. Bottle caps are used to make mosaics, and the most common bottles are green Heineken and brown Chang. Around 20 structures make up the complex, including a water tower and prayer rooms.

7. Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew Temple in Thailand

Close-up view of the Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew, Thailand. Image source: TJ Armer/Shutterstock.com

It’s possible that Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, got its name all wrong, as the only thing the Buddha has in common with emeralds is the color green. Instead of bronze, jasper or jade was used to create the 66-centimeter (26-inch) tall Buddha. Even so, it remains the focal point of worship at this temple on the grounds of the Grand Palace. The Buddha, who is dressed in gold, is said to have been created in the 15th century. It spent generations being shuttled between Thai temples until landing in Bangkok in 1784.

6. Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai

Wat Mahathat Temple in Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand

View of the Wat Mahathat Temple in Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand. Image source: Southtownboy Studio/Shutterstock.com

The ancient temple of Wat Mahathat is one of the most notable attractions in Thailand’s Sukhothai Historical Park in the country’s north. The main stupa, which was constructed to house Buddha’s relics, is adorned at its base with 168 sculptures of bowed Buddhist disciples holding hands. The name means “temple of the great relic,” therefore it’s appropriate. At Orientation Hall, you could see a massive standing Buddha and a huge seated Buddha.

5. Wat Arun

Wat Arun temple in Bankok, Thailand

View of the Wat Arun temple in Bankok, Thailand. Image source: Nukul Chanada/Shutterstock.com

Wat Arun is sometimes referred to as the Temple of Dawn; however, it more appropriately deserves the name the Temple of Magnificence. Overlooking the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, this temple is very breathtaking when illuminated at night.

The sunrise is a beautiful time to see the temple, which is a significant landmark in Thailand. The multicolored porcelain that covers the Khmer-style tower makes it shine in the sunlight. Seashells and more porcelain adorn the outside walls of the nearby structures.

4. Wat Chaiwatthanaram

Wat Chaiwatthanaram temple in Ayuthaya Historical Park

Scenic view of the Wat Chaiwatthanaram temple in Ayuthaya Historical Park, Thailand. Image source: Chongsiri Chaitongngam/Shutterstock.com

The ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya is home to the magnificent Wat Chaiwatthanaram temple complex. The Ayutthaya temple dedicated to the king’s mother is the city’s most popular tourist attraction. Despite its prime location on the Chao Phraya River’s banks, the temple of Wat Chaiwatthanaram is the clear winner in terms of beauty. The 17th-century temple’s design reflects the conventional Buddhist understanding of the world, with individual temples standing in for such geographical features as mountains, continents, seas, and human habitation.

3. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Wat Phra Singh temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Close-up view of the Wat Phra Singh temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Image source: Minto.ong/Shutterstock.com

When in Chiang Mai, you should definitely check out Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Doi Suthep refers to the mountain the temple is perched upon, but the temple itself is one of the holiest sites in all of Thailand.

Located around 10 miles (15 kilometers) from Chiang Mai, the temple is a fully operational Buddhist monastery dating back to the 14th century. The temple’s golden spire stands out against the colorful murals and shrines that cover its walls. Guests can see a copy of the legendary Emerald Buddha.

2. Temple of the Reclining Buddha

Reclining Buddha statue at Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand

View of the gold Reclining Buddha statue at Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand. Image source: Dmitry Rukhlenko/Shutterstock.com

The largest collection of Buddha statues in Thailand can be seen in Bangkok’s Temple of the Reclining Buddha, which has a reclining Buddha that is 45 meters (150 feet) long among its more than 1,000 other statues. The island-based temple complex is often regarded as the pinnacle of royal architecture due to its proximity to the Grand Palace.

When people in Bangkok talk about the origins of Thai massage, they often refer to Wat Pho, one of Bangkok’s oldest temples. A public school with a long history of teaching the general public, its walls are covered with inscriptions on all sorts of topics.

1. White Temple

White temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Scenic view of the White temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Image source: fokke baarssen/Shutterstock.com

A stunning gingerbread structure, the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) is one of the newest temples in Thailand, having been constructed in 1997. It seems like the ogre lives in a snowy castle straight out of a fairy tale, complete with ferocious-looking statues. The “cycle of rebirth” bridge, beneath which extended hands touch the sky, is a focal point of this privately owned temple. The Gate of Heaven, where the fate of the deceased is decided by two creatures, is located on the other side of the bridge.

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