Temples In Thailand Introduction
An Overview of Temples in Thailand
A holiday spent in Thailand will not be complete without a visit to the temples of this picturesque Asian country. For Thais these temples or “wat” are their place of worship since most of them practice Buddhism. For the tourist, these temples hold a certain attraction that can never be ignored. To know what makes these temples sacred for Thais is to come and visit those which hold a special place in the hearts of these Buddhist devotees. There may be more than forty thousand Buddhist temples, but not all of them are in use. If you do not want to get confused with these huge numbers of Thailand temples to visit, let us narrow down the list to the most prestigious and popular ones.
Most Thailand tours offer specific stops to certain temples and it would be wiser to pick the lists of the must-see ones. As a curious tourist it would be better to take note if these Thailand tours include the entrance fees or not. You might be wondering why searching for popular Thailand temples always include the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). The Emerald Buddha is more than a symbol of reverence to Buddha since it represents Thailand’s victory over its neighboring countries. This temple is said to be close to the heart of the King whom the Thais consider to be their spiritual leader. This is also why the King’s Grand Palace stands adjacent to this temple.
If you want to see a thousand reclining Buddhas then head towards Wat Pho. This Buddha is what inspired the soothing Thai massage because of its serene and reclining pose. You can take advantage of taking some pictures with a Buddha everywhere you look. You can also see traditional Thai dance performances on the Grand Palace near this temple. If you want to practice some Thai dance or music classes you can attend some sessions at this very temple. The main star of this temple is the 150 feet long reclining Buddha covered in gold.
One thing noticeable with Thailand temples are thier architecture. Gold is often used in the ornaments, palace design or statues. This is why a visit to the Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Traimit) is a must. Who can resist seeing the biggest solid gold Buddha in the world? A monk accidentally observed a yellow sparkle in a small crack in the plaster covered Buddha that they realized that it was made out of gold. It was the intention of whoever made this camouflage to hide the golden and valuable Buddha from marauders during the 1400’s. Since the unveiling of the gold within this Buddha it has grown ever so popular.
Your Thailand trip will not be complete without visiting the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun). This temple has an astounding historical meaning because of the transfer of power from the capital of Ayutthaya to the present day Bangkok. This temple was given the title Temple of Dawn because of its majestic beauty during sunset. Catch your breath while watching the sunset in this part of the world with your special someone and get that sweet smile from her/him. Situated along the banks of the Chaophraya River, the Temple of Dawn is surrounded by a lovely garden with stone demons that guard it. The 260 literally gigantic pagoda standing on this temple grounds can be seen even as far as the neighboring villages. One of the most colorful festivals in Thailand is an elaborate royal procession of barges where the King presents the monks with robes to celebrate the end of their three month lent period at this very temple.
If you want to see a good view of Bangkok then it’s time to head towards the Golden Mount (Wat Saket). This place commands a great view of the surroundings because it is situated in the highest point of Thailand. Come prepared with the right footwear to withstand the climb into 318 exhausting steps towards its peak. This temple hosts the annual Loy Krathong, Thailand’s Festival of Lights. Loy Krathong literally means floating rafts that are sent towards the waterways of Thailand to carry bad luck away signifying a fresh start.
If you are into old temples, Chiang Mai’s Wat Chiang Man may be the right temple to visit. Built in 1292, this temple is a fine example of the Lanna style of wooden architecture. You can only stand in awe wondering how the wood can withstand the test of time; given the fact that most weather elements would tend to eat most buildings made out of wood. This is a fine representation of Thai architecture and their contribution to the world with something that is uniquely theirs. The fifteen elephants that hold the golden spire of this Thailand temple make an interesting structure to photograph.
Wat Chalong has become a temple where visitors learn about Buddhism while the locals use it for worship. It is Phuket’s biggest and most elaborately designed temple out of the 29 Buddhist temples surrounding this place in Thailand. This temple was founded by the famous and highly revered monks Luang Pho Chaem and Luang Pho Chuang who both promote herbal healing. It is no wonder that up to now, Thais often go to this temple to ask for a lucky charm to protect them from sickness. This is also the temple where tourists and locals congregate to ask for lucky numbers that may win in the lottery. If you want your fortune told, this is the right temple for you. This temple is said to house the fragments of Buddha’s bones.
Devotees of Buddhism cannot simply let go of the opportunity to visit the Big Buddha Temple in Phuket, Thailand. This temple stands a witness to the lovely Phuket sunset. This is a somewhat new temple compared to the older Thai temples, but what makes this temple different from the rest is that funds to build it came purely from donations. The project brought in donations from around the world. The temple has two Buddha images: a smaller one that is made out of brass costing eight million baht while the giant Buddha costs 30 million baht.
Do not forget to wear the proper clothes when you visit these temples. It is wiser to show respect to those who practice Buddhism, even if you are not a Buddhist. Experience the best of what Thailand has to offer by visiting these gorgeous temples and learn something from Thailand’s rich cultural past.