When we think of Thailand, sumptuous Thai food, its great beaches and islands and its spiritual temples come to mind. It’s Theravada Buddhist culture and deep belief in spirituality has ensured that Thailand is home to some of the most vibrant and beautiful Buddhist temples. While there are many beautiful Buddhist temples across the length and breadth of Thailand, here is my list of top 5 temples of Thailand.
Wat Arun, Bangkok
This temple doesn’t need an introduction. It is so popular that is on the 10 baht coin. This temple known as the ‘temple of dawn’ towers on the Thonburi west bank of the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok. Apart from this 17th century, which is beautiful in itself, there are 2 things that make Wat Arun such a hot favorite. One, the first rays of the rising sun on the temple from the Chao Phraya river is a sight to behold. Second, the steep flight of steps that leads to a sensational view of Bangkok’s river side. You can either take a short boat ride or a longer route by road to reach this striking Bangkok landmark.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai
Even though Chiang Mai is a very famous temple city in itself, its most popular temple is located about 15 kms from the city and on a mountain called Doi Suthep. This temple, sacred to many Thai people, offers stunning views of the Chiang Mai city and is especially popular during sunsets. This 14th century temple is built on principles derived from Buddhism and Hinduism. Everything in the temple is gold plated and that includes its pagodas, statues, bells and shrines. This temple also carries a model of the revered Emerald Buddha.
Big Buddha Temple or Wat Phra Yai, Ko Samui
Most of the tourists visiting Ko Samui, do so for its beautiful beaches, but there is a deep Buddhist side to this tropical island too. And this can be seen through its most visible landmark, the Big Buddha temple that can be seen when people fly into Ko Samui. This temple with the 12 meter seated Buddha statue is situated on the north east corner of the island on Koh Faan that is connected to Koh Samui by a causeway. The Buddha here is seated in the Mara posture that symbolizes steadfastness, purity and enlightenment. All the Ko Samui hotels would happily arrange a tour if you are interested in visiting this iconic Ko Samui landmark.
White Temple (Wat Rong Khun), Chiang Rai
This has got to be the prettiest temple in the whole of Thailand even though it is a contemporary and unconventional Buddhist temple. Like the name suggests, everything in this temple is white in colour. Be it the fish in it ponds, the statue of Buddha, its carvings, its walls and all its stupas, everything is white. The special aspect of this temple is the creative imagination that was used by its designer Chalermchai Kosipipat. The construction of this temple began in 1997 and is still in construction, though tourists and devotees are allowed to visit.
Ayutthaya Historical Temple Complex, Ayutthaya
The ancient capital of Thailand is Thailand’s temple center. There are so many beautiful temples here that one can get lost in temple lore for a long time. The rich history and its ancient feel is what draws people from far and wide. Whether it is the Phra Chedi Chaimongol temple, the sleeping Buddha, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Phra Mahathat or Wat Ratchaburana, all the Ayutthaya tours have a lot of stories to share. Its vast ruins give you an idea of its majestic past and a guided tour over a long duration can help you transfer yourself to an Ayutthaya era.