Wat Suthat, better known for the towering red Giant Swing that stands at its entrance, is one of the oldest and most impressive temples in Bangkok. It features an elegant chapel with sweeping roof, magnificent wall murals and exquisite hand-carved teakwood door panels.
The temple’s construction was commissioned by King Rama I (1782-1809), to shelter the 13th Century bronze Buddha image transported by boat from Sukhotai, but it was finally completed during King Rama III’s reign (1824-51). Located in the Old City area, just east of the Royal Field, you can easily combine a visit to Wat Suthat with Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
Wat Suthat Highlights
Wat Suthat is perhaps more famous for the Giant Swing than its impressive interior architecture, which is a must-see after the splendour of nearby Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. The cloistered courtyard, surrounding the main chapel, boasts 156 Buddha images along the outer walls and four entry gates individually hand-carved with intricate details.
The wall frescoes inside the main chapel, detailing the previous 24 incarnations of the Buddha, employed the Western painting technique with perspective science, which is unique to this temple. Lining the outer walls are Chinese stone sculptures and eight-tier hexagonal pagodas, believed to have been shipped as ballast with the Chinese trade junks.
The Giant Swing at Wat Suthat
Standing at 21.15 metres, between Wat Suthat and Bangkok City Hall, the Giant Swing’s two towering red pillars and elaborately carved crossbar are unmistakable from afar. After undergoing several renovations, the original Giant Swing, dating from 1784, was replaced in 2004 with a new one crafted entirely from golden teak. The construction of the new swing was a complex process of hand-carving, paint undercoating and coating by master craftsmen and involved numerous parties from civil engineers to the Forestry Department to Brahmin priests.
In the past, during the Brahmin ‘thanksgiving’ ceremony celebrated every year after the main rice harvest in mid-December, young men would ride the swing high in the air, suspended 24 metres from the ground when in full swing, and try to grab a bag of silver coins with their teeth. Some fairly severe injuries and a few deaths led to the dangerous swing ceremony's discontinuation in 1932, but the swing continues to attract both worshippers and tourists alike.
- Opening Hours: 08:30-21:00 daily
- Location: Bamrung Muang Road, Old City (Rattanakosin), opposite Bangkok City Hall