Thailand is known for its many beautiful Buddhist temples. Three of its most famous spiritual sites are the Temple of the Emerald Buddha – Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Golden Buddha – Wat Traimit and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha – Wat Pho.

The soles of the feet of the Buddha are inlaid with mother-of-pearl

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha – Wat Phra Kaew is not only the biggest temple in Bangkok but also the most famous religious site in Thailand. The temple complex is located in the center of Bangkok in the Phra Nakhon District and within the grounds of the Grand Palace. This temple was named after the Emerald Buddha, which is housed inside it.

Phra Kaew Pagoda was built in the 17th century and comprises more than 100 impressive golden stupas and many inlaid gold corridors. The pagoda’s walls are elegantly decorated with images of rare birds, ochna integerrima blossoms, peonies, pottery bas reliefs and pictures painted by Cheng Ho, a navigator from Ming dynasty China. Despite its national importance, Wat Phra Kaew is the only temple in Thailand with no resident monks. Monks gather in Wat Phra Kaew for important rituals only.

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha - Wat Phra Kaew

In the light of dawn, the mysterious Emerald Buddha statue sparkles. The robe that clothes the Emerald Buddha statue is changed three times each year by the King himself, at the start of each season. The statue wears a diamond-encrusted gold robe during the hot season, a solid gold robe in the cool season and a gilded monk’s robe in the rainy season. Changing the robes is an important ritual performed to bring good fortune to the country. In the past, only princes and high-ranking mandarins could be blessed with holy water at this site, however, King Rama IX placed holy water outside to bless all visitors.

The Emerald Buddha statue stands 75cm high. The figurine depicts a meditating seated Buddha in a style popular in Sri Lankan artwork. Made of semi-precious jade, it is the most sacred Buddha statue in Thailand.

The Temple of the Golden Buddha – Wat Traimit is famous thanks to its impressive gold statue, which represents prosperity, purity, strength and power. The temple is located at the end of Yaowarat Street in the Samphanthawong district.

Wat Traimit Temple

The statue, cast in gold between the 13-15th century under the Sukhothai dynasty, stands three meters (9.8 feet) tall and weighs 5.5 tons. It is considered the biggest gold statue in the world. The statue has an intriguing history, having been hidden and forgotten for decades after Myanmar invaded Thailand. The statue was eventually wrapped and transferred to the main sanctum of Chotinaram Temple (now Wat Phraya Krai) in the King Rama III period (1824-1851). In 1931, Chotinaram Temple was abandoned. The statue was then ignored for more than two decades. In the 1950s, as it was being transferred to a new pagoda in Bangkok, the statue fell into a canal, where it remained. Local residents claim a monk dreamt about the submerged statue and found it, at which time its value was recognized.

The Reclining Buddha in Wat Pho Temple

The Reclining Buddha – Wat Pho Temple is famous for an inlaid gold statue of a reclining Buddha that represents the entry of Buddha into Nirvana and the end of all reincarnations. The statue is 15m high and 46m long. Housing more than 1,000 Buddha statues, Wat Pho Temple is the oldest temple in Bangkok, built 200 years before Bangkok became Thailand’s capital. In 1788, during the reign of  King Rama III (1842-1851), Wat Pho Temple was restored and expanded in the grounds of Wat Phodharam Temple. It was renovated in 1982. Visitors exchange coins for gold leaves to stick onto the Buddha statues.