In part 1 of our Bangkok post, we covered Thailand’s holiest temple complex, Wat Phra Kaew. And despite how magnificent it was, it was only one of hundreds (thousands?) of temples in this city, each one of which was beautiful and amazing. There was no way Inna and I could visited them all, but we did check out several of the best ones, which we will describe below.
Wat Phra Kaew is Thailand’s grandest temple complex and it is located right next to the Grand Palace. So it may be surprising to learn that Thailand’s second grandest temple complex is located just across the street. This complex, known as Wat Pho, is larger and almost as intricate as Wat Phra Kaew, the only thing it was missing was an Emerald Buddha.
Wat Pho doesn’t have an Emerald Buddha but it does have a 50 foot tall, 150 foot long reclining Buddha. This is one of the most visited Buddha statues in Thailand, and this is true despite it not being a pilgrimage site like the nearby Emerald Buddha is.
In addition to the Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho contains several other Buddha statues, ones we were actually allowed to take pictures of.
In addition to buildings and Buddhas, Wat Pho contains dozens of chedis (stupa-like constructions). I have no idea what their purpose was, but they were beautiful.
Remember in our previous post, where we caught a glimpse of the Grand Palace from the river? Well, if you look the opposite direction (ie across the river from the Grand Palace and Wat Pho) you will find another famous Thai temple: Wat Arun.
Despite being much smaller than Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho, Wat Arun (under restoration when we visited) was still difficult to photograph. Hopefully this one gives a good semblance of what the temple looks like; it is actually laid out similar to the Taj Mahal, with a large tower in the center and four thinner towers surrounding it at its corners.
Wat Arun was the final temple we visited near the Grand Palace, but we did visit several other temples in the historic district of the city. Like Wat Ratchanatdaram, also known as Loha Prasat or Metal Castle. This building consists of more than 1000 rooms and was originally built to house the king’s granddaughter in the mid 1800s.
Wat Ratchanatdaram contains 37 spires, representing the 37 virtues required to reach enlightenment. And inside this former-palace-now-temple is a labyrinth of hallways, each one containing quotes and readings about the virtues these spires represent.
Examples of the text in this palace turned temple.
From Wat Ratchanatdaram we went next door, to Wat Thepthidaram Worawihan. Believe it or not, this is one of the less spectacular temples in Thailand. This is actually what a normal Thai temple looks like, except for its size; this temple is much larger than the average one.
The final temple we visited in Bangkok was Wat Saket, also known as the Temple of the Golden Mount. This is another one of the most famous temples in Thailand.
Wat Saket is located at the stop of a steep hill, just outside Bangkok’s historic district. And while the temple itself might not be much to look at (this what it looks like from a path up the hill), there is another reason why this temple is so famous.
If you haven’t guessed, the reason is its views. Wat Saket provides stunning 360 degree views of Bangkok; you can see pretty much the whole city from this temple in the middle of it. The above panorama shows Bangkok’s modern downtown district, with the historic center of the city behind us.
Inna and myself, enjoying the view. It was pretty spectacular up here!
With that, we come to the end of our temple tour of Bangkok. But we still have the entire modern portion of the city to do! To read about that, head over to our next post.