Top 10 Best Temples in Thailand
Thailand, the Land of Smiles, is a South-East Asian country with an official religion of Theravada Buddhism. With over 93% of Theravada Buddhists in Thailand, it is thus not surprising that hundreds of thousands of Buddhist temples known as Wats can be found throughout the country.
Nevertheless, while each of these temples is uniquely beautiful in its own way, there are a few that are truly special due to its distinctive architecture, history, or religious significance.
Here is a list of the top 10 best temples in Thailand that are considered to be spectacularly outstanding:
#1 – Wat Pho
Located in the city of Bangkok and adjacent to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho is one of the most popular temples in the capital. Also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha due to its massive 15 meter high and 43 meter long image of the reclining Buddha. It is one of the largest temple complexes in all of Bangkok and every day welcomes thousands of visitors.
#2 – Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep or known locally as just Doi Suthep, is a revered temple that sits in the mountains above Chiang Mai. Originally founded in 1383, the temple complex has slowly expanded over time into what it is today. Upon reaching the bottom of the temple, one must climb the 300 steps up the mountain (or pay 30 baht to take the lift). Other than the beautiful architecture and paintings, one of the most impressive things about Doi Suthep are the views. Along the eastern temple grounds, one can experience amazing panoramic views over the Chiang Mai basin.
#3 – Wat Suthat
Wat Suthat in the center of Bangkok is one of the most impressive temples that can be found in the big city. Commonly known for its red Giant Swing which stands towering above the entrance to the temple complex. Inside the main chapel are depictions of the previous 24 incarnations of the Buddha. Just outside and surrounding the main chapel is an impressive 156 images of the Buddha.
#4 – Wat Phra That Lampang Luang
Wat Phra That Lampang Luang is a temple in the North of Thailand and is one of the most highly revered temples in Thailand. It is said to be the best representation of ancient Lanna architecture within the entire country. Legend has it that Buddha once visited the temple some 2,500 years ago and donated a single hair from atop his head. This hair is now believed to be housed within the temple’s large chedi.
#5 – Wat Arun
The iconic Wat Arun (aka. Temple of Dawn) which sits gracefully along the west bank of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok is one of the most easily recognized landmarks within all of Thailand and is easily one of the best temples in Thailand. It is considered by many to be the most beautiful temple in all of Thailand due to its unique architecture consisting of multiple spires. The main spire of the temple stands at over 70 meters high. It is decorated with bits of colored glass and porcelain, arranged into an intricate pattern.
#6 – Phanom Rung Historical Park
The Phanom Rung Historical Park is a Khmer temple complex that is located on an extinct volcano. Located in the Isan region of Thailand, it was constructed out of sandstone and laterite between the 10th and 13th centuries. It was originally a Hindu religious site and later became a Buddhist site. The temple is arranged according to the Hindu belief of the layout of Shiva’s heaven. There are exquisite designs on the pagoda, columns and doorways.
#7 – Ayutthaya Historical Park
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, the Ayutthaya Historical Park is home to some of the best temples in Thailand. The entire park encompasses a number of temples, but for the sake of simplicity, we have included them all here as a single entity. The entire historical park is huge and it is unlikely that you will be able to experience the full thing in a day. Some areas of note are the ruins of Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, a temple built in 1491, and Wat Phra Manhathat, one of the most beautiful temples in the entire park.
#8 – The Sanctuary Of Truth
The Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya is a temple based on both Buddhist and Hindu motifs. It has no real religious significance, but makes it on the list due to its unique architectural design. It is constructed completely by hand out of teak wood. Although the project is a work in progress, slated for completion sometime in 2025, the temple is already beautiful and well worth the visit. One of the most impressive things about the Sanctuary of Truth is the attention to detail. Every inch of the temple is adorned with carvings and images.
#9 – Wat Phra Kaew
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok is considered to be the most important Buddhist temple in all of Thailand. It is located within the grounds of the Grand Palace, where it houses the Phra Kaew Morakot (aka. the Emerald Buddha). This is a highly revered image of the Lord Buddha sitting in a meditating pose and carved from a single block of Jade. The legend of the Buddhist statue holds that it is almost 2,000 years old, carved a mere five centuries after the Lord Buddha attained Nirvana. It was moved to Thailand in 1782 and has resided there ever since.
#10 – Wat Rong Khun
The White Temple in Chiang Rai is not your typical Buddhist Temple. It is also not religiously significant in the least, but if you have ever visited, you will understand why it is on our list. Construction began by Thai artist Chaloemchai Khositphiphat beginning in 1998 and it is currently a work in progress. The White Temple is a unique blend of the beautiful, grotesque and the downright odd. With such images as the Predator, Spider-man and George W Bush intermixed with traditional Buddhist images. The temple itself is a sight to be seen and is definitely the most unique and interesting temple in Thailand. It definitely deserves the top spot as one of the best temples in Thailand.