Of course one of the top things to do in Thailand is visit the gorgeous temples. There are currently more than 40,000 temples in Thailand. To put that in perspective: There are 11,000 Starbucks in the USA. And don’t you feel like you see them on every corner? Thailand is significantly smaller than the USA yet has 40,000 temples. I feel like I see 3 on every corner. There is never a lack of temples to see in Thailand and I wish could could hit them all. But since we can’t… Here’s my favorite that we have seen!
The capitol of Thailand and home of the most temples in Thailand! For more info on Bangkok you can check out my Bangkok Post. Here’s my favorite temples:
- THE GRAND PALACE! The Grand Palace is the most famous place in the heart of Bangkok. The palace was the home of the King of Thailand starting in the 1700’s. Since then, the Kings have moved to other residences, and it is now the most popular tourist attraction in Thailand. The grounds are ginormous, covered in temples, statues and gorgeous landscape. While visiting make sure you wear the appropriate clothing or you will not be allowed in. No legs or shoulders showing! Thankfully there are shops outside the gates that have plenty of clothes to choose from if you forget.
- WAT ARUN: Just across the river from The Grand Palace and my favorite temple in Thailand! It is much less crowded than any other temple in Bangkok. And very clean! You are able to walk up the stairs of the temple and check out the view of Bangkok. I am in love with the hand painted details of Wat Arun. I wish I could’ve seen these temples being created!
- I am not sure of the name of this temple but it is inside the gates of the grand palace. It is not one of the major attractions, but I love the architecture of it!?
- WAT PHO: Also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It is located directly South of the Grand Palace (toward the river) in its own gated grounds. The reclining Buddha is 46 meters long! The temple is full of paintings and other architecture as well.
There are not as many temples in Phuket as there are in other major parts of Thailand. But there are still some amazing religious grounds and experiences to be had there!
5. THE BIG BUDDHA PHUKET: There are many “Big Buddha” statues in Thailand and this one is my personal favorite. It is 46 meters tall and made out of white marble. The Big Buddha is actually still under construction and is supposed to be finished in 2018, making it the newest Big Buddha statue in Thailand. The construction started in 2009 and now is almost complete with only some landscaping left to finish. In the bottom of the Buddha there is a prayer room that you are able to go inside of. We saw many Monks inside meditating. So cool! It is very rare to see a temple site so new in Thailand!
6. BIG BUDDHA PHUKET: This Gold Buddha is located right behind the white marble Buddha. It is much smaller, but also one of my favorite Buddha statues! Also the best place to do some monkey watching…. Without getting attacked! I wrote an entire post with more info on Big Buddha and the Monkeys a few weeks ago with some great monkey stories. Click here to read!
7. PHROMPHEP CAPE: This isn’t exactly a temple, but one of my favorite shrines! It has hundreds of elephant statues surrounding the place of prayer. I’m a sucker for elephants so I guess thats why I loved it so much! For more info on the shrine and the amazing view of Phromphep Cape click here!
Koh Samui is home of the most colorful and unique temples that we have seen in Thailand! Just wait until you read about #12?
8. GUANYIN: This statue is not Buddha… It is Guanyin: The goddess of compassion and mercy. This group of religious grounds is also a newer addition to Thailand. This statue is very unique because of its Chinese style. Guanyin has 18 arms and is surrounded by the temple lake!
9. HAPPY BUDDHA: Next door to Guanyin. This happy Buddha is one of the only Chinese styled Buddhas in Thailand. Also surrounded by the temple lake.
10. WAT PLAI LAEM: The most colorful temple that we have seen! In the temple pond you can rent swan shaped paddle boats to ride around the temples. So fun! It reminds me of something at Disneyland.
11. WAT PHRA YAI KO FAN: Another Big Buddha! This is just minutes away from the colorful temple grounds in North Eastern Koh Samui. There is a huge staircase to climb to get to Buddha, and amazing views at the top!
12. THE MUMMIFIED MONK: Located inside Wat Khunaram. This monk died in 1973 and directed that his body be on display after he passed. He wanted it to be a reminder of the transience of human existence. The people believe he is something magical since after almost 45 years of passing away his body has not decayed! He is still sitting in the upright meditating position.
13. WAT KHUNARAM: The outside of the home of the mummified Monk! Makes for a very good photo spot!
14. THE SECRET BUDDHA GARDEN: This isn’t necessarily a Temple. But close enough! This is one of Koh Samui’s best kept secrets. Located about 30 minutes into the rolling hills of Koh Samui, the garden is filled with hundreds of amazing hand sculpted statues. There are also gorgeous waterfalls and multiple stone houses in the garden. The garden is also known as the “magic garden” and it truly is magical! It looks like somethings straight out of a fairytale. If you are wanting to go to the garden the entrance fee is 20BAHT per person. I would suggest going in the morning. At around noon tourists on buses will start flooding in and making the garden very crowded. We rented a scooter at about 8am and took that up through the mountains to the garden. (Very doable by the way) The scooter ride through the rolling hills was one of my favorite things we did in Koh Samui!
Chiang Mai used to be a capitol city itself. It is home to a huge variety of temples. We ended up not going to the most popular temple on the hill that is paired with a Buddha statue. Instead we tried to go off the beaten path and see what we could find. Here is my favorites!
15. WAT MAHAWAN: This temple is located in the City Center of Chiang Mai. It has gorgeous gardens surrounding and also has a School for Boys next door. As we walked around the temple we saw a group of about 20 boys all playing drums together in a circle. They were amazing! As they played they layed down on their backs, played with their feet, were flipping around, playing backwards, and never missed a beat! We also had a small group of teenage Monks come up to us and ask to practice their English. They had the cutest conversation with Gavin asking “what are you doing” and “how are you” type of questions. We found out they they have a program where you can actually sign up to go help the young Monks learn English. It was so fun!
16. PHRA SINGH: This temple is also located in the city center of Thailand. Inside is a shrine of Buddha that has a legend of being inspired by a great Lion. The steps of the palace make for a great photo op!
17. PHRA SINGH: The second part of the Phra Singh temple. The two temples are connected by a stone gate. The temple was created in the 1400’s and is definitely the most vintage looking one we have seen!
18. WAT PADARAPIROM: The last temple we saw while in Chiang Mai. These were the prettiest and most clean temple grounds we have seen in Thailand! There were about 6 temples on the grounds and all were very well kept. My favorite part of the grounds were the ponds with lily pads floating in them. It was so peaceful to sit and look around. We toured the temple with a group from the Shewe Wana Hotel. We were the first group to go on a new tour they started of Chiang Mai! This was the first time that we bought flowers to make a wish on and give to the temple. I can’t believe it took us until our last temple to do!