We were really excited about going to the different temples in Thailand. We researched about which temples were the must-see. On our guided tour, we were brought to two temples and a jewellery shop.
We were really amazed by the beauty of the temples we saw in the morning but we were awestruck later in the day. After the free tour, we were given free transport to go to the location of our choice so we decided to go to the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha first.
If you have the option, don’t bother going to the temple tour arranged by your travel agency or better yet have this removed from your itinerary. Take a taxi to the temple area and go see these temples yourself or else you will be brought to a souvenir shop, jewellery factory and other places where you’re expected to buy stuff and these places will eat up your time. You’ll probably be taken to the free temples only as the major temple attractions do charge an entrance fee.
The Standing Buddha
- Opening Hours: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm
- Fee: free
Wat Indrawihan or The Standing Buddha temple was the second temple we visited in the morning. It was built during the reign of King Rama IV to King Rama VII. It stands 32 meters tall and 11 meters wide. Its Topknot contains relics of Buddha donated by the Sri Lankan government.
Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha
- Opening Hours: 8:30 am – 3:30 pm
- Fee: 400 baht
If you had time to visit only one temple, go to the Grand Palace. It’s called grand palace for a reason. The temples are breathtakingly beautiful with intricate details and astounding colours. We just couldn’t help but keep saying “Oooh!” and “Ah!” with each structure we visited in the premises. You’ll get a free map and you will be able to visit the Queen’s Textile Museum where you’ll see a bit about Thai fashion and fabrics. Take an audio guide or a guided tour to learn more about each structure, its purpose and history. You will be advised not to take a guided tour and we didn’t since we already read up about the place before going there, but I feel it adds more to the experience getting some information from a local guide.
Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is located in the Grand Palace grounds. Enshrined in this temple is the Emerald Buddha which was carved from a single block of Jade. The Gatekeeping Giants or Yaksa Tavarnbal, which stands 5 meters tall, are a sight to behold but my favourite was the Golden Stupa or Phra Si Ratana Ched, which houses the Sacred Buddha Relics. It was built in 1855, and with golden tiles imported from Italy, by King Rama IV.
- Opening Hours: 8:00 am – 5:30 pm
- Fee: 50 baht
- Ferry Fare: 3 baht
Our tour guide kept discouraging us from visiting Wat Arun because we had to take a ferry to get there. We still decided to go since it’s one of the most scenic spots you’ll see in guide books. The waters are a bit choppy, but it’s nothing an islander can’t handle. The ferry ride itself takes about 3-5 minutes only and you can see the temple from the port.
Wat Arun is decorated with Chinese porcelain and some statues. The temple was built during the reign of King Rama II and finished during the reign of King Rama III. It looks like a grey structure from afar but when you get up close you’ll see these lovely murals made out of broken Chinese porcelain pieces. It is a very tall structure and there are stairs you can take to climb up. I’m not acrophobic or anything but when I looked down from the topmost staircase I had to gather my courage to slowly descend. The highest point of tower is 82 meters tall. One of the best spots to take a photo of Wat Arun is from the small plaza, across the river, near the port.
- Opening Hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Fee: 100 baht
Wat Pho houses the largest reclining Buddha statue, which is 15 meters high and 43 meters long and it is a sight to behold. Wat Pho also houses a Thai massage school which you may want to try.
- bring an umbrella
- wear sunscreen
- bring sunglasses
- wear flip flops since you’ll be going into temples and you have to take your footwear off
- wear jeans, long pants and tops with sleeves or else you’ll have to borrow, rent or buy clothing to cover-up
Recommended Route: Map from Google
- Start with Wat Pho and get a massage
- Walk to the ferry port for Wat Arun and take a photo from the spot
- Have a heavy lunch
- Spend the afternoon at the Grand Palace grounds