I wrote a short post a few days ago about Bangkok, and I wanted to share more about our time there. We JAM-PACKED our four days in this city. Seriously. In a city of 8.2 million, we were told many, many times "Bangkok is crazy, you'll love it, but don't spend too much time, or you'll go crazy."
Ok. Fair point. But, Bangkok is also full of amazing Buddhist temples, and even an island in the middle of the Chao Praya river, called Koh Kret. All of these serve as peaceful retreat from the crazy that lives on the streets of Bangkok.
I wanted to share with you three of my favorite temples that we visited and why I loved them so much. There are way more than three temples in Bangkok, and we saw (I think) five or six of them, but that would be a lot to write about and get a little monotonous, so read on for a little information on Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Arun and Wat Saket!
Wat Phra Kaew
This temple is located inside the Grand Palace. Jordan and I made our way here very early on our first full day in Bangkok. We understood that this is where all the crowds would be, and also that there was a strict dress code - long pants and shoulders covered. We were there in January, so there was no cloud covering, although it was still humid as anything, and it was around 90 degrees most days. Our plan was to get to the Grand Palace, pants donned, see the sights with hopefully smaller crowds, then change ASAP into something more comfortable, and go on with our day.
The grounds were beautiful, and being the first temple we had seen, we were a bit in awe. Gold flaked statues and glass mosaics were everywhere. The temple grounds are built in a square-shape and lead you on a self-guided tour so you can weave in and out of the outer wall, visiting the buildings in the center. It all leads to the main hall in the center of the grounds, which houses the Emerald Buddha.
Wat Phra Kaew is considered one of the most important temples in Thailand because it is within the Grand Palace, and because of the Emerald Buddha. This Emerald Buddha is some 26 inches tall and carved out of jade. There are ceremonies three times a year to change the cloak on the Buddha - summer, winter, and rainy season, and it is thought that this ritual will bring good fortune to the country during this time.
If you are headed to Bangkok, this is definitely not a temple to be missed!
Also known as the Temple of Dawn, this temple sits across the Chao Praya River from Wat Phra Kaew. Even though this temple is nicknamed the Temple of Dawn, it is apparently it is a sight to be seen at sunset, where it catches the reflections of the light, but Jordan and I were not able to make it to this part of town for sunset during our stay. We did get over there shortly after lunch and enjoy the views of Bangkok from across the river!
I really enjoyed this temple because it was so different from the others that we had seen in Bangkok. Most of the others were covered in gold (which was beautiful), but this was mostly white with colors sprinkled throughout in the mosaics on the buildings.
This is one of the tallest places in the city, and although you used to be able to climb the tallest spire, we were not able to, and it seems you may not be able to do this at all anymore. The first picture in the gallery was taken from the highest point we were allowed to climb to.
This was probably one of my favorite temples that we saw. Also called Temple of the Golden Mount, this temple sits atop an artificial man-made hill, overlooking the city. Wat Saket dates back to the Ayutthaya Period, and even collapsed at one point due to the soft soil it sat on. When King Rama I took reign, he renovated the temple to its current state.
To get to the actual temple, you must climb around 300 stairs, passing by many beautiful water fountains, statues, and gardens. It was all very scenic and peaceful, and right in the heart of the city.
I found this temple enchanting, from the vine-covered cemetery at the very bottom, to the wall of bells welcoming us to the chedi at the top. Jordan and I even rang a few gongs, which was pretty cool!
These are only three of the many, many, many temples in Bangkok, but they were three of my favorites. There is also such a thing as temple-fatigue, so if you are venturing into this area of the world, do some research and prioritize which ones you want to see. Understand why each one is important to the city and the culture, and it will definitely pay off in the end!