Thailand may be known as the Land of Smiles, but it could also be labelled the Land of Temples. Buddhist temples, to be precise. Wherever you go in the Kingdom, you can be sure to find busy temples and working monasteries full of monks (dead or alive!), and almost all of them are now revered tourist attractions. Let’s look at 5 of the most impressive.
5. Wat Khunaram, Ko Samui
Koh Samui’s Mummified Monk at Wat Khunaram is an unusual sight yet it offers a unique insight into Buddhist and Thai culture. The monk Luong Pordaeng died in 1973 in a seated meditative position, and ever since his body has been on display in an upright glass case at the temple. Remarkably, even more than 30 years on the monk’s body shows little sign of decay. For some visitors, having a dead man in full view might be a shocking sight, but for Thais it is something to reflect upon and revere!
4. Wat Chalong, Phuket
Wat Chalong has been extending a warm welcome to visitors for over a century. Locals come to pray and Westerners come to learn something about Buddhism. The temple is open from seven in the morning to five in the afternoon. The Grand Pagoda dominating the temple contains a splinter of Lord Buddha’s bone and is decorated with murals depicting Buddha’s life story.
3. Wat Arun, Bangkok
Wat Arun is situated on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. It is easily one of the most stunning temples in Thailand, not only because of its riverside location, but also because the design is very different to the other temples you can visit. Wat Arun (or The Temple of Dawn) is partly made up of colourfully decorated spires and stands majestically over the water.
2. Wat Umong, Chiang Mai
Wat Umong is unique in many respects. For one, it’s built in the foothills of Suthep mountain and is still heavily forested. The most unique feature of the temple is the series of subterranean tunnels. The temple and its tunnels were built in the late 14th century and legend had it that it was built like this for a highly regarded monk who was a little crazy! It is said that the labyrinthine tunnels kept the mad monk from wandering off!
1. Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai
Perhaps the most unique temple in the Kingdom of Thailand, Wat Rong Khun is known in English as “The Silver Temple”. It is a place where you can find towering demons wielding swords rising above you, hands reaching out from the depths below you on a bridge, and shrunken heads hanging from tree branches staring at you as you walk past. No visit to Wat Rong Khun is ever boring!