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Wat Pra Kaeo

Wat Phra Kaeo is the most visited temple in Bangkok. Also known as Temple of the Emerald Buddha, this temple is within the Bangkok Royal Palace grounds. Inside you’ll find stunning Buddhist architecture, paintings and sculptures.

Temple Highlights:

  • Over 100 colorful buildings – some of which were created in the 1800s
  • Emerald Buddha – 26-inch high sacred Buddha from the 14th century
  • Three pagodas – representing the changing centers of Buddhist influence
  • Elaborate murals showing – Siddhartha Buddha’s life; Steps leading to enlightenment; Ramakian, a 178-scene version of the Indian, Ramayana.
  • The Royal Pantheon – to commemorate the founding of the Chakri dynasty
  • Phra Mondop – a library containing the holiest Buddhist texts, the Tripitaka.
  • Model of Angkor Wat
  • Phra Si Rattana – a gold chedi with some of Buddha’s cremated remains

The focus of this temple is a sacred 26-inch high Emerald Buddha said to have been created in Sri Lanka or Thailand in the 14th century. The statue isn’t really made of emerald, but is either jade or green jasper.

The Emerald Buddha is kept on an altar in the center of the temple at an elaborate bot (main shrine) raised high above the crowds and encased in glass.

Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the only person allowed to go near the statue, which he does only for a ceremonial changing of the Buddha’s clothes three times per year corresponding to Thailand’s seasons: summer, rainy season, and winter.

Emerald Buddha Quick Facts:

Origination: 14th century Sri Lanka or Thailand (matter of some dispute).

Emerald Buddha Resting Places: Chiang Mai, Lampang, Bangkok, and was seized by the country of Laos for over 200 years.

Arrived in Bangkok: 1782

Current Location: Grand Palace complex, Bangkok, Thailand.

Wat Phra Kaeo Essentials:

Hours: Daily 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Cost: 300 Thai baht ($9). Admission includes Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaeo.

Guides: Walking tours are available.

Directions: Take the BTS Skytrain to Taksin Station, then the Chao Phraya Express Ferry to Tha Chang Pier. The temple is a short walk from there.

Special Notes:

  1. Dress code is strict and they inspect you. Basically, show no arms or legs, and don’t wear see-through or tight-fitting clothing. Sandals without ankle or heel straps cannot be worn.
  2. A frequent scam is for taxi drivers to tell you the temple is closed. They then offer to take you to gem stores or somewhere else they can make a commission. Bangkok temples are rarely closed.
  3. No photography of the Emerald Buddha is permitted.

Bottom Line: Wat Phra Kaeo is a must see during your Bangkok, Thailand vacation.

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