Day 2: Wats, Temples, and the Grand Palace

Even if you’ve never had the desire to visit temples or palaces in the past, this is one place that won’t disappoint with some of Southeast Asia’s most stunning temples.  The main attractions include The Grand Place, Wat Pho, The Golden Buddha and the Temple of Dawn, all of which are within walking distance from Khao San Road.

The Grand Palace, Bangkok
The Grand Palace, Bangkok

As you head out with your city map in hand to the Grand Palace, you will be stopped dozens of times by people telling you the attraction is closed for a special ceremony today, or that you won’t be allowed into the attraction because you are inappropriately dressed.  Neither of these statements are true – ever.  What they are trying to do is have you take a tuk-tuk or taxi ride out to a much farther temple that of course is open today and then leave you stranded there, having to take another tuk-tuk back to Khao San Road. Ignore them completely and keep on walking.

The first stop of our temple day is The Grand Palace, home to the royal family for over 150 years, and the administrative seat of the government.  The ticket is a bit pricey, at 350 baht, but the complex is massive and the Bangkok’s biggest tourist attraction. Allow yourself at least 45 minutes to wander around and grab some amazing photos.  Proper dress with clothes covering your knees and shoulders is required, but if you show up in your tube top and shorts, you can rent attire for a deposit.

The next stop is Wat Pho, the largest and oldest temple in Bangkok housing the famous 46 meter long reclining Buddha.  The entrance fee is only 50 baht, and again dress accordingly.  You’re quickly shuffled into the queue to walk along the length of the Buddha and snap your photos.  It’s worth making a stop here for the absolute sheer size of this statue.

Worlds longest lying down Buddha
Worlds longest lying down Buddha

For a dramatically different looking temple, and a ride on the river taxi, head over to Temple of Dawn.  It’s only a 5 minute walk to the pier, and only 3 baht a person to take the boat across the Chao Praya river to the temple.  This temple differs greatly in architecture lacking the gold plating typical of most others.  You can walk up the extremely steep steps to the top of the temple for a spectacular view of the city.

Temple of Dawn
Temple of Dawn

If you aren’t templed out at this point, then you can hop back on the river taxi one more time to visit Wat Traimit, home to the world’s largest solid gold Buddha. The temple itself isn’t  anything different from other temples in the area, but it’s worth the visit to visit this insanely impressive Buddha.  I can’t even begin to imagine how they managed to haul the giant statue up the stairs to its final resting place.  Never will you ever see so much gold in one place.

Bangkok's Golden Buddha
That is a lot of gold!

By now your feet are likely aching and getting back to Khao San Road is likely your top priority.  You can catch the river taxi there for dirt cheap, but it will require a bit of walking, or try your bargaining with a tuk-tuk for direct service. Treat yourself to one of the famous Thai foot massages tonight, and it will all be worth it.

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