With hundreds of temples across the city, it can be quite a mission to choose which ones to see while you're on holiday in Bangkok... Here's a Bangkok temples tour that takes you to three of Bangkok's most famous 'wats' (temples) in under four hours, plus combining with the splendor and grandeur of the Grand Palace and a slice of authentic city life. It's a tour that offers more than enough experiences to simultaneously educate and excite visitors, especially first-timers.
Wat Trimitr - The World's Biggest Golden Buddha Image
The excursion starts on a balmy morning just after the madness of peak hour. The spacious van makes its way to the Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Trimitr), the first temple of the day located relatively close to the city centre. Legend has it that, to hide its value from Burmese invaders, the Buddha image was covered entirely in plaster and remained so for over two centuries. However, while being transported to a new temple, a part of the stucco accidentally chipped off, revealing a glint of bright yellow inside.
Only then did people realise that the statue was made of solid gold. Seated in the position called 'Subduing the Mara' (conquering the devil), the Sukhothai-influenced statue weighs five and a half tons and has a height of 15 feet 9 inches, making it the world's biggest golden Buddha image. Also housed in the temple are a seated image of a famous late abbot, as well as a piece of actual stucco that once covered the statue.
Chinatown and Flower Market
En route to the Grand Palace, the van also passes some places that make Bangkok one of the most unique cities in the world. Not far from Wat Trimitr is Yaowarat Road, or the famous Chinatown, where an array of gold shops and delicious local specialties are vying for your attention. A brief 'photo stop' can be arranged with the driver.
A few minutes later, the van arrives at the Flower Market, the city's most fabulous place to shop for not only flowers, but also an impressive variety of traditional Thai sweets, fresh fruits and vegetables. Unlike other local markets in touristy areas, prices here are normal market prices. If time allows, make sure to stop at this lovely market for a stroll.
Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew
Next on the itinerary is the highlight of the tour, the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). Probably the most famous landmark in Bangkok, the palace used to serve as a residence for the Kings of Thailand. The tour guide will lead you through the vast compound filled with several halls and smaller palaces used for different ceremonial occasions.
One you're inside Wat Phra Kaew, you'll be amazed by the stunning architecture and intricate Thai craftsmanship. Golden 'chedis' (pagodas), a replica of Angkor Wat as well as sculptures of mythical creatures from the well-known epic Ramakien are also displayed. The Emerald Buddha is housed in the main building, or 'ubosoth', and is lavishly adorned with garments made of gold. Three different sets of gold garments are changed exclusively by the King of Thailand to correspond to the country's hot, rainy and cool seasons.
Please note that, since the Grand Palace is regarded as a royal venue, appropriate attire is expected from visitors. No shorts, singlet, sleeveless shirts, sandals or any open-ended shoes are allowed inside the grounds of the Grand Palace. If you happen to wear any of those, sarongs and trousers are available for loan at the palace's main entrance. Read More...
Wat Pho, The World's Largest Reclining Buddha
Located right next to the Grand Palace is the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho). Home to more Buddha images than any other Bangkok temple and the world's largest reclining Buddha, this temple is the oldest in Bangkok, it's also the birthplace of traditional Thai massage as well as a centre of education for traditional Thai medicine. Covered in gold plating and decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay on his eyes and the soles of his feet, the Reclining Buddha is 46 metres long and 15 metres high.
This temple is also a unique blend of cultures and religions as there are Chinese porcelain decorations and sculptures as well as Hindu's lingam in the temple grounds. Unlike the Grand Palace, Wat Pho has a lot of shady spots where you can take refuge when the heat gets too much. Read More...
The City's Star Attractions in One Package
If you're new to Bangkok, or short on time and want to quickly experience what makes the city so rich in art and culture, the Bangkok City, Temple and Grand Palace tour is a perfect choice. It's half-day, and consists of not only the city's most famous temples and palace, it also provides a glimpse of bustling local life in areas like Chinatown and the Flower Market - a great eye-opener for the whole family.
Tip: As this tour involves a lot of walking outdoor, and to make the experience more comfortable, wear a hat and/or sunglasses and arm yourself with a bottle water to prevent dehydration (the heat can be unrelenting).