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Bangkok’s Spiritual Side

Spirituality is everywhere in Bangkok—you don’t need to visit a temple or shrine to experience it. For me, trying to inhabit a place of calm while walking along Silom Road on Friday night is sometimes meditation enough!

At the same time, many of Bangkok’s explicitly sacred sites are spectacular. In some cases, this is due to architecture, in other cases the mood or vibe. In still others, it’s as much about the context in which you find the temple as it is the temple itself.

The list I’ve created below outlines what I consider to be the best temples in Bangkok. (Though I do hope those of you with differing opinions will leave a comment—I’m always open to having my mind changed!)

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Why is Bangkok Home to So Many Temples?

Narrowing down a list of the best Bangkok temples (Wat in the Thai language) is difficult because of the sheer quantity of them in Bangkok. But why is this? The first reason is both obvious and worth explaining: The official religion of Thailand is Theravada Buddhism, with more than 90% of the population adhering to it. The millions of residents of Bangkok need literally thousands of places to pray!

It’s not just the city’s population, either. Bangkok has been Thailand’s capital for over 200 years, and before that, it was located just over the river in Thonburi (which, today, is considered part of Bangkok). As a result, many of the sites I’m about to list have existed for centuries, which makes them all the more compelling to visit. Consider this post a survey not just of spirituality or architecture, but of Thai history itself!

My Favorite Bangkok Temples

Wat Saket


The aptly-named “Golden Mountain,” Wat Saket towers above the northern part of Rattanakosin island, visible from blocks away. Whether or not you watch sunset from the top, make sure to visit nearby Sao Ching Cha (aka the Giant Swing) and peaceful Wat Suthat, beneath whose Buddhas its easy to find a quiet moment.

Wat Arun


Wat Arun, the “Temple of Dawn,” is among the most beautiful temples in Bangkok, whether in the gorgeous early morning light coming from the east, or in the evening when the sun sets behind it. Once you finish here, ride the 5-Baht ferry over the Chao Phraya River to start exploring Rattanakosin island, if you haven’t done so already.

Wat Benjambophit


Although it’s located a bit too far north of even Khao San Road to be accessible by foot, the “Marble Temple” of Wat Benjambophit is certainly one of the architectural highlights of the Old City. I recommend coming in the afternoon for optimal lighting conditions.

Wat Intharawihan


Another of the most amazing temples in Bangkok, Wat Intharawihan and its standing Buddha are located in a similar part of the city to Wat Benjambophit. However, because the Buddha faces east, I recommend coming here in the morning.

Wat Pak Nam


For many years, Wat Pak Nam was all about its interior, which Japanese tourists have long referred to as the “Space Temple,” as in outer space. These days, the temple (which is owned by the controversial Dhammakhaya sect of Buddhism, and is now accessible via Bang Phai MRT station) is also home to a giant Buddha.

Wat Traimit


A second “Marble Temple” to add to this list of Bangkok temples, Wat Traimit is the most impressive temple in Yaowarat, aka Bangkok’s Chinatown. While it’s beautiful during the day time (especially on blue sky days, when the temple’s white color contrasts with the deep azure of the sky), it’s also worth seeing lit-up at night.

Wat Phra Dhammakhaya


Also owned by Dhammakhaya, Wat Phra Dhammakhaya is pretty far outside of Bangkok, in the general vicinity of Don Mueang Airport. It’s visible from the airport when taking off, although I recommend going by taxi or Grab, so you can look upon its “million Buddha images” with your own eyes.

Overrated Bangkok Temples and Attractions

While Bangkok is home to countless temples and shrines that are amazing and absolutely worth the trouble, many just aren’t that incredible:

  • The Grand Palace: Centered around Wat Phra Kaew temple, this place simply isn’t worth the crowds and stress, nor the 500 Bath entrance fee for foreigners.
  • Erawan Shrine: While I can’t lie that seeing skyscrapers rise around this Hindu shrine (especially from the perch of the Ratchaprasong Sky Bridge) is intriguing, the shrine itself is a busy mess.
  • Wat Pho: I feel bad including one of Bangkok’s most famous temples (the temple of the reclining Buddha) on this list—it’s a classic. It’s also increased its price several times over the past few years, however, and is one of Bangkok’s most crowded temples.
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Other FAQ About Bangkok Temples

What is the number one temple in Bangkok?

The most-visited temple in Bangkok is undoubtedly Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which sits inside the Grand Palace. In my opinion, however, this is not the best temple in Bangkok—or even close to it. It’s too crowded and expensive to be worth visiting.

What is the most famous shrine in Bangkok?

Erawan Shrine, which sits at the Ratchprasong intersection adjacent to centralwOrld Mall and Lumphini Park, is by far the most famous shrine in Bangkok. Skyscrapers rise all around it, which creates a contrast that is difficult for many tourists to resist.

Is Grand Palace worth visiting?

The Grand Palace isn’t irredeemable—it’s a huge site full of incredibly architecture and timeless heritage, after all. On the other hand, it costs and arm and a leg (500 Baht, as of April 2024) to visit if you’re a foreigner; it’s also crowded all day and requires you to wear long pants.

The Bottom Line

Do you agree with me that these are the best temples in Bangkok? Maybe it’s problematic for me to make such a declaration—that’s a topic for another post. What I will say is that after nearly two decades exploring Thailand’s City of Angels, these are the places that make me feel closest to heaven. Some of them are mainstream—you might’ve already been—while others are so far off the beaten path it’s wonder I discovered them in the first place. Want help seamlessly integrating these places (and others) into your Thailand trip? Consider hiring me to plan a custom Thailand itinerary!


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