0 In Asia/ Thailand

The 25 Best Temples In Thailand

Last updated on Sep 11, 2019

With over 40,000 temples in Thailand, it can be tough to decide which ones to visit while you’re there. I visited Thailand multiple times, first for 10 days and then 14 days and every time I was there I was only able to visit a handful of temples. Which is why I teamed up with other travel bloggers to share with you the ultimate guide to all the best temples in Thailand. I grouped them by region so that you can decide which temples to visit in each part of Thailand, and included useful information like how to get there, entry fee if there is any, a bit of history and more.

Before you go, have you got everything you need? Check my Thailand packing list!

Exploring the outside grounds of Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand

Exploring the outside grounds of Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand

The best temples in & around Bangkok

Wat Pho

Entrance Fee: 200 baht

“Wat Pho, or Wat Phra Chetuphon is one of Bangkok’s oldest and biggest temples. Most people flock to this temple to see the 46-metre-long reclining, gold plated Buddha and it’s not hard to see why. Standing at 15 metres high, the reclining Buddha image is absolutely massive and something you have to see with your own eyes. And if that’s not enough for you, the temple complex is home to the most Buddha images in Thailand! It’s really easy to add to your temple circuit – you’ll find it right next to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. Best of all – since Grand Palace is filled with all the tourists, Wat Pho is quieter and very peaceful to visit.”

– by Rachel, author of The Kiwi Couple

Click here to book a Wat Pho & other Bangkok temples tour

The huge gold reclining buddha of Wat Pho in Bangkok

The huge reclining buddha of Wat Pho, Bangkok, photo by The Kiwi Couple

The spires of Wat Pho in Bangkok, photo by The Kiwi Couple

The spires of Wat Pho in Bangkok, photo by The Kiwi Couple

Golden buddhas at Wat Pho in Bangkok, photo by The Kiwi Couple

Golden buddhas at Wat Pho in Bangkok, photo by The Kiwi Couple

Wat Arun

“Wat Arun represents Mount Meru, the center of the world according to Buddhist teachings. The name of this temple translates as the “temple of dawn”, but actually the best views are at sunset from across the river, when the temple’s spires create a striking silhouette. Once night falls, it’s also beautiful when lit up.

The main spire is more than 70 meters high and is covered in tiny pieces of porcelain and covered glass. It’s one of the most recognizable landmarks in Bangkok, if not all of Thailand.

To reach the temple, go to the Sapphan Taksin boat pier and take any boat that stops at pier 8. From there, a small shuttle boat will take you to the other side of the river for just 3 baht. The temple is open every day from 8:30am to 5:30pm, and the entry fee is 100 baht.

You could also combine your visit with a look at the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, which is just across the river, and have lunch at the nearby Home Café Tha Tien, which serves yummy vegetarian and vegan Thai dishes.”

– by Wendy, author of The Nomadic Vegan

Click here to book a Wat Arun & other Bangkok temples tour

The spires of Wat Arun, photo by The Nomadic Vegan

The spires of Wat Arun, photo by The Nomadic Vegan

Wat Saket

“Wat Saket, also known as the Temple of the Golden Mount, was one of our favorite temples in Bangkok. The temple is located on the top of an 80-meter “mountain” and was once the highest point in all of Bangkok. Today, that’s no longer the case, although this golden temple still offers crazy 360-degree views of Bangkok.

On the way to the top, up 300 steps, there are many resting areas that are decorated with a multitude of bells and gongs. We visited Wat Saket during Songkran, and many locals were visiting it as part of the traditional merit making practices that are performed during this holiday.

The temple is open from 9 am to 7 pm and the entrance costs 50 baht ($1.50 USD) Getting there is quite easy from Wat Pho. It’s only a 30-minute walk from there if you’re up for it. Otherwise, you can jump on bus 2, though somehow, this takes more time than walking. If you don’t mind paying a little more, you could also always jump into a taxi or tuk-tuk.”

– by Carine & Derek, authors of We Did It Our Way   

Click here to book a private Wat Saket tuk-tuk tour

The golden stupa of Wat Saket in Bangkok, photo by We Did It Our Way

The golden stupa of Wat Saket in Bangkok, photo by We Did It Our Way

Temple of the Emerald Buddha in the Royal Palace, Bangkok

“Traffic in Bangkok can be quite hectic at times, and back in the day the Bangkok subway could not reach its old town. So, it is not a bad idea to explore this part of Bangkok by the Chao Phraya Tourist Hop-on-hop-off boat. The route covers most of Bangkok’s main landmarks from Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, the Flower Market and China Town.

Among these historic monuments, Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) is probably one of the most featured temples in Bangkok. The temple is located within the grounds of the Grand Palace. What impressed me the most is the Ubosot – it is a perfect example of the Rattanakosin architectural style: The exterior of the building is surrounded by statues of Garuda and Naga, paved by golden embellishments and covered by blue and orange mosaic tiles; don’t miss out the frescoes inside that depict the life journey of the Buddha.”

– by Kenny, author of Knycx Journeying

Click here to book your Bangkok Grand Palace & sightseeing river cruise tour

Emerald Buddha temple in the Royal Palace of Bangkok, photo by Knycx Journeying

Emerald Buddha temple in the Royal Palace of Bangkok, photo by Knycx Journeying

Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is, in my opinion, one of the most impressive temples in Thailand because it’s not a single temple, rather an ancient city with loads of different temples and old palaces. Ayutthaya is 80km north of Bangkok, around a 1.5 hour car journey depending on traffic, and used to be the capital of the Kingdom of Siam. Today the centre of the town forms the Ayutthaya Historical Park, that you can wander around and visit all the old temple and palace ruins.

Wat Maha That temple in Ayutthaya

Wat Maha That temple in Ayutthaya

The easiest way to visit Ayutthaya is on an organised tour from Bangkok. We paid 600 THB per person, which included transfers to and from Bangkok, lunch, an English-speaking guide, free time to cycle around Ayutthaya and entry to all the temples. You can also get the train or rent a car and driver for the day, but will then have to pay 50 THB entry per temple or 220 THB for a day pass to the whole Historical Park, so the price will end up being fairly similar in the end.

Wat Phra Sri Sanphet in Ayutthaya

Wat Phra Sri Sanphet in Ayutthaya

Within Ayutthaya it can be hard to decide which temples to visit. My personal favourites were Wat Maha Tat, Wat Phra Sin Sanphet and Wat Phu Kao, since they were the biggest and best preserved temples in the Historical Park. This meant you could really immerse yourself in the vibe of the moment, and get lost wandering around the temple grounds away from the crowds. They’re also very different from all the temples I’d previously seen in Bangkok so it was interesting to explore and learn more about them.

Click here to book your tour to Ayutthaya from Bangkok

Wat Phu Khao in Ayutthaya

Wat Phu Khao in Ayutthaya

Wat Prah Yai, Pattaya

“Wat Prah Yai is Pattaya’s Big Buddha Temple, which is 18 meters high and on the top of Pratumnak Hill. Surrounding the big Buddha are many smaller statues of him in various stages of enlightenment, and at the base of the hill there’s a Chinese temple, too. It is a lovely complex to explore to learn about Buddha, make offerings, and see magnificent views of the township below.

Wat Prah Yai is also an operational temple attended by monks each day. My family and I loved chatting to a monk and learning how to make our offerings properly, and he also taught us about our birth years by the Chinese animal calendar. Even though it was busy with locals and tourists, the temple was peaceful and quiet, and many butterflies and dragonflies hovered around the beautiful natural setting. We all agreed it was one of our favourite activities in Pattaya with kids, and one of the best temples we’ve visited.

There is no entry fee but it is kind to make a donation or offering while you’re there.”

– by Emma, author of Small Footprints, Big Adventures 

The big buddha in Pattaya, photo by Small Footprints Big Adventures

The big buddha in Pattaya, photo by Small Footprints Big Adventures

Phanomrung Temple (Buriram)

“Due to its expansive size and lack of tourist-friendly transport, the region of Isaan (Northeastern Thailand) is rarely explored by traditional tourists and travellers in Thailand. Meaning that temples and attractions feel much more off-the-beaten-path. A good start would have to be in Buriram Province, with the ancient Khmer temple complex of Phanomrung Historical Park.

Phanomrung Temple, along with the ancient ruins of Prasat Muang Tam, are the more spectacular sites along the ancient Khmer Highway leading from better-known temples such as Angkor in Cambodia. If you can, I recommend visiting during the annual Phanomrung Festival, when the temple becomes the backdrop of a rather fascinating cultural festival with parades and historical enactments throughout the ancient Khmer temple compound. Otherwise it is a must-see attraction year-round for the more adventurous travelle. I recommend basing yourself for tours in the near-ish town of Nang Rong. Entrance Fee is 100 THB.”

– by Allan, author of Live Less Ordinary

Buriram Phanom Rung, photo by Live Less Ordinary

Buriram Phanom Rung, photo by Live Less Ordinary

Buriran Castle Outdoor Mall and Sports District in Buriram City, photo by Live Less Ordinary

Buriran Castle Outdoor Mall and Sports District in Buriram City, photo by Live Less Ordinary

Where to stay in Bangkok

I visited Bangkok multiple times and every time changed the hotel I stayed at, so that I could try living in different areas of the city. The nicest hotel I stayed at was the SO Sofitel, it had a beautiful rooftop pool, stunning views from the bedrooms and an amazing breakfast buffet. However it was a little far out from all the buzz of Bangkok. If you want something more central and more budget I loved also staying at New Siam Palace Ville and the Buddy Lodge in Khao San Road. They’re not as fancy but much cheaper and are in the heart of Khao San Road, also close to the Grand Palace and temples. Plus they both have pools too.

Click here to see the latest prices and availability for accommodation in Bangkok

The rooftop pool of the SO Sofitel in Bangkok, Thailand

The rooftop pool of the SO Sofitel in Bangkok, Thailand

The best temples in & around Chiang Rai

Not going to lie, after a week in Thailand visiting only temples I was feeling pretty “templed out”. While beautiful, a lot of the temples we saw in Bangkok and Chiang Mai felt very similar to each other, and I was starting to be a bit bored by them (as ungrateful as that makes me sound). However when we visited the temples in Chiang Rai I was excited all over again, since they were so unique and different from everything else we’d seen before.

White Temple – Wat Rong Khun

The White Temple, or Wat Rong Khun, is possibly one of the most famous temples in Chiang Rai, if not all of Thailand, which is quite ironic, as it’s not actually a temple. It’s a contemporary and privately owned art exhibit, built in the style of a Buddhist temple. The main temple structure is all white, as you may have guessed from the name, but despite the pure bright colour, some of the decorations and details are a little gruesome, with outreaching hands and devil lake statues. Despite the scary details, it’s still a stunning piece of architecture.

Click here to book your tour to the White & Blue temples in Chiang Rai

Exploring the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai

Exploring the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai

Being so famous, the White Temple is obviously very crowded. Visiting early in the morning won’t save you from the crowds, since a lot of tours arrive right on time when it opens at 8AM. Instead, I recommend visiting at the end of the day. On our first visit to the White Temple we didn’t realise that it closed at 5PM, so we got there and weren’t allowed in. However this proved to be a blessing in disguise, as we then got to enjoy a beautiful golden hour and sunset, watching the sun set behind the temple without anyone in it.

The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai, Thailand, at sunset

The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai, Thailand, at sunset

The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai, Thailand, at sunset

The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai, Thailand, at sunset

Entry to the White Temple costs 50 THB and gives you access to both the White Temple, the courtyard and other buildings and temples around it. The most spectacular one to me is a golden temple to the left of the White Temple, which is a golden construction with spires that look like something out of a movie. The White Temple is very much a tourist attraction, but is still one worth visiting.

Click here to book your tour to the White & Blue temples in Chiang Rai

The Golden Temple within Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai

The Golden Temple within Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai

Blue Temple – Wat Rong Seur Ten

Unlike the White Temple, the Blue Temple, or Wat Rong Seur Ten, is an actual Buddhist temple and it’s not uncommon to find people praying inside. As the name suggests, this temple is pretty much entirely blue. The outside walls, decorations, statues, inside walls and carpet, Buddha statues and even entrance are painted blue. There are some gold fixtures around the doors, windows, statues and dotted here and there that make the blue pop even more.

The inside of the Blue Temple in Chiang Rai

The inside of the Blue Temple in Chiang Rai

The temple is a short 10 minute drive north of Chiang Rai. You can get there either with a Grab (kind of like a Thai uber) for as little as 100 THB or you can do an organised tour that will take you to both the White and Blue temples. There was no entry fee when I visited in April 2019. Since it is a Buddhist temple the usual behaviour and dress code rules apply; you have to cover shoulders and knees, and you have to take off your shoes when you walk inside.

Click here to book your tour to the White & Blue temples in Chiang Rai

The front of Wat Rong Suea Ten (the Blue Temple) in Chiang Rai, Thailand

The front of Wat Rong Suea Ten (the Blue Temple) in Chiang Rai, Thailand

The back of Wat Rong Suea Ten (the Blue Temple) in Chiang Rai, Thailand

The back of Wat Rong Suea Ten (the Blue Temple) in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Wat Huay Pla Kung

Wat Huay Pla Kung is a really unique and stunning temple about 20 minutes drive north of Chiang Rai. It’s composed by three main structures; a huge white statue of the Goddess of Mercy (often mistaken for a big Buddha), a 9-storey colourful pagoda and a white hall with dragons outside its staircase. Entry to the temple area is free, you have to pay 40 THB if you want to go inside the statue. The easiest way to reach Wat Huay Pla Kung is to get a Grab, just make sure to ask him to wait until after you’re done, as there might not be other Grabs around for the way back! This happened to us and we had to hitchhike our way back to Chiang Rai.

If you’re in Thailand in winter you should visit Wat Huay Pla Kung at sunrise, as you’ll be able to see the sun peak over the horizon in line with the huge dragon staircase that leads up to the Goddess of Mercy statue. We visited before sunrise in April and while it was still a cool experience (we had the whole area to ourselves, no other tourists around!) we didn’t see the sunrise like we were hoping to.

The big buddha of Wat Huay Pla Kung in Chiang Rai, Thailand

The big buddha of Wat Huay Pla Kung in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Where to stay in Chiang Rai

We only spent one night in Chiang Rai and we stayed at the Nak Nakara Hotel, because we wanted somewhere nice to relax after a long day of temple hunting. Chiang Rai has a really cool street food night market so I highly recommend spending at least one night there, to give you time to properly soak in the temples without rushing and to enjoy some great Thai street food.

Click here to see the latest prices and availability at the Nak Nakara Hotel

The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai, Thailand, at sunset

The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai, Thailand, at sunset

The best temples in & around Chiang Mai

Wat Suan Dok

“Wat Suan Dok is one of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai, having been built in the late 14thcentury. Its name means “flower garden temple” and it was originally built in the royal garden. It is known for its numerous white chedis or pagodas, many of which serve as mausoleums to the royal family of Chiang Mai. Nestled among these stands an impressive 48m tall golden chedi; home to a Buddha relic.

Wat Suan Dok is located on Suthep Road, about 1km west of the old city. It is easily accessible on foot, by songthaew or taking a Grab/taxi. It is free to enter and is open from 6am to 5pm daily.

It’s a very photogenic temple with the golden chedi contrasting beautifully against the white washed smaller pagodas.  You will also find incredible views of Doi Suthep from the temple grounds, making it a perfect spot for sunset.”

– by Sophie, author of Travels of Sophie

Click here to book your Chiang Mai city & temples tour

Wat Suan Dok, photo by Travels of Sophie

Wat Suan Dok, photo by Travels of Sophie

Silver Temple – Wat Sri Suphan

The Silver Temple, or Wat Sri Suphan, is one of the most distinctive temples in Chiang Mai. It’s located south of the Old Town walls in the silver-making district of the city, a characteristic that is clearly visible in the silver shops that are dotted around the area. The temple is only silver coloured, not built with actual silver, but nonetheless if you’re visiting on a sunny day you will find it sparkling in the sun for you. Women aren’t allowed inside the temple but you can still enjoy the elaborate details that decorate the outside. There is an entry fee of 50 THB.

Click here to book your Chiang Mai city & temples tour

The outside of the Silver Temple, Wat Sri Suphan, in Chiang Mai

The outside of the Silver Temple, Wat Sri Suphan, in Chiang Mai

Sukothai

“Sukhothai, the first capital city of the kingdom of Siam, dates back to the mid-thirteenth century. The city flourished for over a hundred years and this period is often referred to as the golden age of Thai civilisation. The remains of the kingdom, a UNESCO World Heritage Site are amongst Thailand’s most important historical ruins. For lovers of history and culture Sukhothai is a must visit and we’d encourage everyone to add the ancient city to any Thailand itinerary. There are many temples within the ancient city.

Sukhothai is located a six hour drive or a short one hour flight from Bangkok. Many people choose to break up the journey north to the cities of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai at Sukhothai.

The best way to explore the ancient city of Sukhothai is by bicycle. Bikes are cheap and easy to rent, at one of the many bike shops at the park gate. The Sukhothai Historical Park is worth at least half a day of exploration. The best time to visit is in the morning before it gets too hot or in the cooler late afternoon. Water, hats and sunscreen are needed whatever time of day you choose to visit. There are 45 square kilometres of ruins to explore but most people concentrate on the central and northern regions. Cycling around the ancient city is safe and easy. You simply cycle from ruin to ruin stopping to wander amongst the ruins or giant Buddha’s.”

– by Nicky, author of Go Live Young

Sukhothai, photo by Go Live Young

Sukhothai, photo by Go Live Young

Wat Chedi Luang Chiang Mai

“The Northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai is home to over 300 Buddhist temples (Wats). Many Wats have a long history dating back hundreds of years and one of the oldest, Wat Chedi Luang is in the heart of the Old City and dates back to the 14th Century.

Wat Chedi Luang is one of the largest Wats in Chiang Mai and is a major tourist attraction. The centrepiece is the ancient Stupa surrounded by ornate Elephants. Over the century’s earthquakes damaged some of the elephants and part of the upper section of the Stupa, but most of the structure remains and today it is not only a significant Buddhist place of worship, but also a fine example of traditional Lanna style architecture.

Wat Chedi Luang, photo by Frequent Traveller

Wat Chedi Luang, photo by Frequent Traveller

Entry is 40Baht for Adults and 20Baht for children. The complex is quite large with many temples so plan a couple of hours to fully take in the site. For a small extra donation, you can also attend the popular Monk Chat where you are able to have one on one talks in English with Monks.

Wat Chedi Luang is easy to locate in the heart of the Old City and can be accessed via Tuk Tuk and Songthaew.”

– by Alan Cuthbertson of Frequent Traveller 

Click here to book your Chiang Mai city & temples tour

Wat Chedi Luang, photo by Frequent Traveller

Wat Chedi Luang, photo by Frequent Traveller

White Buddha – Wat Phra That Mae Yen

“The White Buddha in Pai (technically the Wat Phra That Mae Yen) is one of the most striking temples I went to in Thailand.

That’s almost entirely to do with its location! Go to Pai (which you should definitely do) and you can’t miss the giant White Buddha staring down at you from the hillside.

Sat there with an unceasing sense of serenity, there’s something comforting about having this beautiful Buddha so close to the town center. It’s a genuine sight to behold, and easily accessible by foot too.

It is 2km outside of town, and there’s no entry fee to worry about once you’re there. Don’t be put off by the staircase! There are 353 steps to the top, but don’t be put off- it’s worth the exertion (even in the North Thailand humidity).

Get there for sunrise or sunset and be blown away by the incredible views over the area (be sure to take your travel camera!). The view is truly stunning, and a sight you won’t forget in a hurry!”

– by Danny, author of What’s Danny Doing?

Click here to book your Chiang Mai city & temples tour

The White Buddha in Pai, photo by What's Danny Doing?

The White Buddha in Pai, photo by What’s Danny Doing?

Wat U Mong

“Wat U Mong, located just outside of central Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, is one of the most unique of Chiang’s Mai’s many temples. The temple was first built in the 14th century, abandoned, then rediscovered in the 1940s and finally re-established in the 1960s.

The temple’s most unique feature is a network of underground tunnels and shrines which sit below the main chedi. There are also some large ponds on site where visitors can feed large fish and turtles.

The temple and Mother Nature really blend at Wat U Mong; when we visited we spotted enormous hairy caterpillars, millipedes, and a mother chicken that was protecting her eggs on a nest she had built in a hallowed out tree stump right beside one of the main walking paths.”

– by Nick Kembel, author Spiritual Travels

Click here to book your Chiang Mai city & temples tour

A Buddhist monk at Wat U Mong in Chiang Mai, photo by Spiritual Travels

A Buddhist monk at Wat U Mong in Chiang Mai, photo by Spiritual Travels

Doi Suthep

Doi Suthep Temple with its jaw-dropping architecture which consists of a stairway with 306 steps that is lined by the King of Nagas, the iconic giant serpents of Buddhist lore, a magnificent Golden Pagoda, and the statues that fill its temple grounds, make it one of the biggest attractions around the northern city of Chiang Mai. As it also houses a Buddhist relic, a fragment of Buddha’s shoulder bone, Doi Suthep is a popular pilgrimage site among devout Buddhists.

Just 15 kilometers from the city of Chiang Mai, the best mode of transport to visit the area is a scooter which you can rent for 200 to 250THB a day. You can also hire a taxi for 400 to 500THB a day, a safer option if you are not used to riding a moped along winding mountain roads. You can also catch one of the songthaews, red pick up trucks, just outside Chang Pauk Gate for just 50THB.

Although the temple grounds are open from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm, it is better to head there early in the morning to avoid the crowd and the heat of the afternoon sun. Entrance to the temple will set you back around 30THB and you have the means to splurge and to travel around the area, it is worth paying an extra 200THB to explore the nearby Doi Suthep National Park with its many waterfalls and stunning views.”

– by Karolina, author of Lazy Travel Blog

Book your tour to Doi Suthep temple here

Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai, photo by Lazy Travel Blog

Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai, photo by Lazy Travel Blog

Wat Chiang Man in Chiang Mai

“My favourite temple in Thailand’s northern capital isn’t one that’s mentioned in the Lonely Planet guidebook, or one that I’ve ever found to be particularly overrun with tourists.  But that’s a huge part of its appeal for me.

Temples are meant to be places of quiet reflection and the sense of peace and solitude here, coupled with the abundance of plants and flowers and green spaces within the temple’s grounds, ensures that it feels exactly as temples should feel.

Wat Chiang Man is Chiang Mai’s oldest temple, established around 1296, and is located in the city’s Old Town, just a kilometre northwest (and therefore within easy walking distance) of Tha Phae Gate. When I last visited a couple of years ago, there was no entry fee.  Hopefully it will stay this way!”

– by Kiara, author of Gallop Around The Globe

Click here to book your Chiang Mai city & temples tour

Some of the details at Wat Chiang Man, photo by Gallop Around The Globe

Some of the details at Wat Chiang Man, photo by Gallop Around The Globe

Wat Pha Lat in Chiang Mai

“Visiting temples is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai, but there are so many that it can be overwhelming knowing which ones are musts and which can be skipped. If you’re searching for a temple in Chiang Mai that most tourists miss, keep reading…

Wat Pha Lat is a temple hidden in the jungle just outside the city. And while just about everyone makes it to Doi Suthep Temple on the top of the mountain, most people miss nearby Wat Pha Lat because the only way to access it is by hiking there. The lack of tourists, the shaded jungly grounds and the beautiful temple mixed together give it a magical feeling, yet it’s not difficult to get there.

The Monk’s Trail is well marked and only takes around 40 minutes to reach, though on a humid day it can be quite steamy on this jungle trail. After wandering around the temple grounds and enjoying a coffee and the small stand in the center of the complex, you can return the way you came on the trail, or you can continue the hike upward. Follow the path to the more famous (and crowded) Doi Suthep Temple, then take a red truck (songthaew) back to the city.”

– by Katie, author of Two Wandering Soles

Wat Pha Lat, photo by Two Wandering Soles

Wat Pha Lat, photo by Two Wandering Soles

Wat Pha Lat, photo by Two Wandering Soles

Wat Pha Lat, photo by Two Wandering Soles

Wat Mae Kaet Noi

“This Buddhist temple should really come with a warning: do not visit this one with kids.

Wat Mae Kaet Noi is a perfect example of a Buddhist hell temple — a place dedicated to showing what awaits you for your sins according to Buddhist belief. Unlike the Christian version of hell, your stay in Naraka is not eternal, but the lengths of stay translate to trillions of years or longer.

Sadly, these punishments are rarely explained well on-site, but in general, your punishment is based on which of Buddhism’s five sacred precepts you’ve broken or which causes of misfortune you’ve partaken of. As two examples, Alcoholics are made to drink boiling oil, while liars have their tongues pulled out with pliers.

Some of these punishments are on the gruesome side, and that’s intentional. They’re almost a Thai version of being ‘scared straight’ — after all, isn’t it better to live the correct life (and donate some money to make merit) than risk this future fate?

Wat Mae Kaet Noi is along route 1001, Tambon Pa Phai, Ban Mae Kaet, Chang Wat, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50210 (GPS: 18.877943,99.03681), and requires your own transportation or a taxi to reach.”

– by Chris, author of Worthy Go

Wat Mae Kaet Noi hell temple, photo by Worthy Go

Wat Mae Kaet Noi hell temple, photo by Worthy Go

Where to stay in Chiang Mai

We spent collectively 4 nights in Chiang Mai, 2 before going to Chiang Rai and 2 after before then flying on back to Bangkok. We changed hotels so that we could see different parts of the city. We spent the first two nights at Leaf Hostel, a clean and nice hostel but a bit boring, probably because it was quite empty but there wasn’t much of a social life going on. We then spent the last two nights at Le Meridien Chiang Mai, and if you can splurge a bit on accommodation I can highly recommend it. With their rooftop pool, stunning room views and rich breakfast buffet it was the perfect place to relax after all the temple hunting and cooking classes we did.

Click here to see the latest prices and availability for accommodation in Chiang Mai

Enjoying the sunset from the rooftop pool of Le Meridien in Chiang Mai

Enjoying the sunset from the rooftop pool of Le Meridien in Chiang Mai

The best temples on the Southern islands (Phuket & surroundings)

Big Buddha Phuket

Phuket is more of a beach destination in Thailand, but if you get bored of all the island hopping or scuba diving fun you should definitely check out the Big Buddha of Phuket. The Big Buddha of Phuket is one of the most visited temples on the island, possible because it doesn’t resemble normal Thai temples that much. The Big Buddha is genuinely huge; it’s 45 metres tall and is located on top of a hill along the western coast of Phuket. It has beautiful 360 views all around and you can see everything, including the towns, beaches, hills and forests.

Entry is free (as of February 2019) and I recommend visiting at sunset, since that will allow you to avoid the middle of the day Thai heat, and also enjoy a beautiful sunset view. Just make sure to set off with time to spare, we were driving from Patong and the traffic was horrendous. It took us twice as much as Google Maps estimated and we almost missed the sunset! We got a big tuk tuk to take us there and then back to Patong for 2,000 THB, but there was 8 of us going so it was fairly cheap once split amongst everyone.

Click here to book a tour to the Big Buddha Phuket + jungle trekking

Enjoying the sunset from the Big Buddha of Phuket, Thailand

Enjoying the sunset from the Big Buddha of Phuket, Thailand

Tiger Cave Temple, Krabi

“Don’t worry, Tiger Cave Temple is not one of those touristy places where they sedate the tigers to take a photo with them. The name of Krabi’s favorite temple comes from a legend that says a mighty tiger used to seek refuge in the cave below the temple. The locals often heard its ferocious roar and were afraid to go near the place until the monks came and the tiger left on its own. The tiger prints inside the cave, and the fact that the bulge of the cave resembles a tiger’s paw only strengthen the legend.

The Tiger Cave temple in Krabi, photo by Global Castaway

The Tiger Cave temple in Krabi, photo by Global Castaway

To fully enjoy the Tiger Cave Temple, you need to make your way to the top. One of the most fabled sacred sites in Thailand is located  278 meters above the ground, and you need to climb 1260 steps to reach the summit. While not an easy task at all, the giant golden Budha and the panoramic views of the Krabi region make the effort absolutely worth it.

The temple is located north-east from Krabi Town, and the easiest way to reach it would be via public transport – Songthaew – or via tuk-tuk/ private driver.”

– by Slavi, author of Global Castaway

Click here to book your Tiger Cave + Emerald Pool Jungle tour

The Tiger Cave temple in Krabi, photo by Global Castaway

The Tiger Cave temple in Krabi, photo by Global Castaway

The best temples on the Northern islands (Koh Samui & surroundings)

Big Buddha – Koh Samui

“Wat Phra Yai or Big Buddha Temple is one of the most visited temples in Koh Samui. The temple was built in 1972 and the 12-meter tall golden Buddha statue attracts hundreds of tourists and locals every day.

To get to the Buddha statue, you’ll have to climb some stairs but you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view over the ocean. Situated on the rocky island of Koh Faan, Wat Phra Yai can be seen from a long distance and the temple itself is the most important religious site in Koh Samui.

When visiting this temple, make sure to dress appropriately. No “spaghetti blouses”, short pants or short skirts are allowed. Also, you’ll have to take your shoes off before entering the temple.

To get to Big Buddha in Koh Samui, I recommend renting a motorbike for one day. If you don’t feel comfortable riding a motorbike, you can also take a taxi or a songthaew. There is no entrance fee for this temple.”

– by Aurelia, author of Daily Travel Pill

Wat Phra Yai, Big Buddha in Koh Samui, photo by Daily Travel Pill

Wat Phra Yai, Big Buddha in Koh Samui, photo by Daily Travel Pill

Koh Samui temple – Wat Plai Laem

“Wat Plai Laem is one of the major tourist attractions you must visit when holidaying on the incredible Thailand Island of Koh Samui. Better yet, the admission price for entry into the temple is free or a small donation.

The Temple layout is merely mesmerising and dazzles every visiting tourist who wanders through the grounds of the colourful temple that sits nicely over a lake with large goldfish swimming about.

The active Buddhist temple gathers devotees every day for worship, who wish to pay homage to the 18-arm Guanyin. However, other significant Religious structures will strike your attention with their creative and designs, including the ever-famous Fat Smiling Buddha.

The Wat Plae Laem will leave you with fond memories of your holiday in Koh Samui, which is usually seen on a motorcycle ride tour around the Island, or an busy day tour.”

– by Anthony, author of Fair Dinkum Traveller

Wat Plai Laem, photo by Fair Dinkum Traveller

Wat Plai Laem, photo by Fair Dinkum Traveller

What to bring when you go temple hunting in Thailand

Most temples in Thailand are Buddhist religious sites and as such, there is a certain dress code to respect. While you don’t necessarily need to bring anything special with you, there are a couple items you can pack to make your temple hunting experience more pleasant.

  • A pair of socks – it may sound silly but a lot of temples will require you to remove your shoes. If you’re wearing sandals that means going barefoot, which in the Thai heat can be rather unpleasant if it ground burns. Bring with you an extra pair of socks so you can quickly pop them on and walk around in comfort
  • A shawl – temples will require you to cover your shoulders. I get that in the Thai heat you don’t necessarily want to wear long sleeves, so just bring a shawl with you so you can cover your shoulders when need be and remove it when you don’t need it
  • A water bottle – some temples in Thailand will have water tanks where you can refill your bottle. It’s important to stay hydrated in the Thai heat so don’t forget your own water bottler!
  • A camera – the temples in Thailand are beautiful and you want to make sure you capture their beauty!
Exploring the outside grounds of Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand

Exploring the outside grounds of Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand

Have you been to Thailand before? What temples did you visit and which ones were your favourites? Let me know in the comments below! With so many temples in Thailand I know it can be overwhelming to decide which ones to visit. Even I haven’t visited all the ones recommended in this guide. I decided to team up with other travel bloggers to share with you all of the most beautiful temples in Thailand that stood out to us, I hope you find this guide useful in planning your trip!

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Girl standing in front of Wat Pho in Bangkok with text overlay saying "25 beautiful temples in Thailand"

Collage of four temples (White temple, golden temple, Wat Pho and Wat Suan Doe) with text overlay saying "25 best temples in Thailand"

Girl in a yellow skirt twirling around Wat Suan Doe with the golden stupa in the background, with text overlay saying "the most beautiful temples in Thailand"

The golden stupa of Wat Saket in Bangkok with text overlay saying "25 must see temples in Thailand"

The White Temple (Wat Rong Kun) in Chiang Rai at sunset with text overlay saying "25 beautiful temples in Thailand"

Collage of three temples (White temple, Wat Pho and the Blue Temple) with text overlay saying "25 best temples in Thailand"

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