Summary: For good reason, every Bangkok itinerary inevitably has a visit to at least a few of Bangkok's the hundreds of temples or "wats" located throughout the City. It's hard to describe the spectacular opulence of Bangkok's Buddhist temples. Adding to their grandeur is the fact that these golden temples are often surrounded by modest or even impoverished homes or businesses. Devotees of the temples make financial offerings in boxes located throughout the temples so observers can make financial contributions, or make good deeds (Tham Bun). These offerings fund the monks' modest lifestyle (in contrast to extravagant temples they care for), as well fund charitable needs throughout the City.
Tips: Women should bring shawls to cover bare arms and and wear longer skirts or pants. At the Grand Palace, men will also need long pants. Easy slip on shoes are necessary for the whole group as shoes must be removed before entering a temple.
Royal Grand Palace; Royal Temple: Built in 1782, this large complex of buildings contains museums, temples, and amazing architecture. Audio-guides are available but we found this to be another essential spot for a private, knowledgeable tour guide. The King of Thailand or historically, "King of Siam," Maha Vajiralongkorn, does not reside at the Grand Palace anymore but it is still used for official ceremonies. Tip: There's an air-conditioned textile museum that provides a respite from the heat but also interesting textiles.
Wat Traimit; Golden Buddha: This temple houses a 3-m high solid gold buddha. Believed to be cast in the 13th century and later covered in plaster to fool invaders, legend is that the golden statute was discovered in 1955 when movers dropped it and the plaster exterior broke.
Wat Arun: This temple, known as "Temple of the Dawn," is made of thousands of porcelain pieces, which is hard to really fathom unless see it up close. Situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya river, Wat Arun must be viewed at night and during the day to really appreciate it's unique beauty. The focal point and most identifiable part of the grounds is the large prang (spire). Photographs below show the prang at different times of day, each uniquely displaying the beautiful architecture.
Wat Pho; Reclining Buddha: One of the oldest temples in Bangkok. In addition to the beautiful grounds, where you may run into a large group of domestic cats lounging in the middle of the tourists, you will find the impressive Reclining Buddha. Be prepared to be dwarfed by this 15 m high and 46 m long statue. The Wat Pho grounds are also beautiful in their own right.
Photographs of Monks. We noted that some travel blogs state that photographs of monks are not allowed. We cannot say if this is accurate or not. When we were with our guide, we were never discouraged from taking photos of Monks but were strictly advised of all the other common requirements such as covering shoulders and removing shoes. Our advice is to ask your guide and of course, if possible the monk himself. In the photo above, this monk was conducting a blessing for tourists and was surrounded by photographers snapping photos.