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Exploring the famous temples of Bangkok

Whether you are in Bangkok for just a day, a week, or even a month, a visit to some of the many famous temples in Bangkok is a definite must. While the Grand Palace houses some immaculate temples, we will be focusing on some other temples with a more in-dept. look into these fascinating constructions.

Wat Saket, better known as the Golden Mountain.

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In the centre of the historic centre of the city is the temple Wat Saket. This temple dates back from the Ayutthaya era (around 1300-1700) and was known as Wat Sakae in that time. When the capital changed from Thonburi to Bangkok, the King Rama I renovated the whole temple and changed its name to the current day Wat Saket.

On the grounds of the temple is a steep artificial hill which is called Phu Khao Thong. Phu Khao Thong means Golden Mountain translated from Thai and is named as such as the walls have a vaguely gold colour and the temple, Wat Saket has the traditional gold coloured look.

The grandson of the King who changed the name of the temple, King Rama III ordered the construction of a Chedi at the location but due to the soft soil of Bangkok the Chedi collapsed. While all that was left was an abandoned mud-and-brick structure, time slowly altered the area into a natural hill.

Afterwards more construction took place until it was finally constructed into the beautiful temple and mountain that it is now. This spot is definitely worth a visit as it gives you a beautiful view over the city, with the modern areas in the distance and the older historic areas being just down below. The area is easy to visit and all taxi drivers will definitely know the way towards the Golden Mountain so getting there should not be any issue.

Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn

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The temple Wat Arun is located on the west bank of the river Chao Phraya in Thonburi and exists since at least the seventeenth century, but got its spires in the early nineteenth century, which made the temple famous as it is now. The temple is seen as one of the best landmarks in Thailand, mainly for the fact that it is especially beautiful at dawn.

The temple has a rich history with many renovations, moving’s, and changes of the name over the years but has now finally found a clear foundation for itself as the Temple of Dawn. The main feature of the temple is the Khmer-styled tower, which is called a ‘prang’. The Prang of Wat Arun is somewhere between 66 and 86 meters and offer a beautiful sight to be amazed at.

If you are lucky you might be able to wear traditional clothes which you can rent at the temple. After having tried out the traditional clothes, it is time for to climg up the Prang. Make sure you have had enough water beforehand as it is an exhausting climb, although it is most definitely worth it!

The temple can be best reached by a water across the river Chao Phraya where ferries travel to the Maharaj pier. Other ways are by taxi or public transport, but traffic might cause for some slight issues.

Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.

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Wat Pho is a temple complex located just south of the Grand Palace. An interesting fact about this temple, the official name actually is not Wat Pho. The official name of the temple is; Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn. Yes, you can immediately forget that again but if you ever get the question in some pop quiz where this temple is located then, now you know.

The temple is classified as first of the highest grade of royal temples and is associated with King Rama I who built the temple complex on an earlier location. The temple is also seen as one of the earliest educational centres in Thailand as well as recognition from UNESCO in its Memory of the World Programme for its marble illustrations and inscriptions.

The complex is quite large and houses many different sights which are to extensive to explain just in one go, but the most impressive sight is the Reclining Buddha. The Reclining Buddha was built in 1832 by King Rama III and it represent the entry of Buddha into Nirvana. The posture of the Buddha is from the posture of a sleeping lion and the figure is 15 meters high and 46 meters long.

All in all, Wat Pho is most definitely worth the visit. The temple is best reachable by going over the river or taking a taxi to the temple and is a great way to spend a day in combination with the grand palace which is located just north of the temple.