The 9 Sacred Temples in Bangkok

Originally posted: January 2009
Last updated: -

On the day of New Year, we paid homage to the 9 sacred temples right in the heart of Bangkok. While I may have already been to quite a few of them. It was my first attempt to visit all 9 of them within a single day.

The map below depicts our route of advancement (in ascending numerical order).
Route of advancement
Map by ThinkNet

From the map, it can be seen that 3 out of the 9 temples, namely Wat Kanlaya, Wat Arun and Wat Rakhang, are on the western bank of the timeless Chao Phraya River. The rest lays solemnly on the eastern bank and either within or not too far from the old Ko Rattanakosin area.

Since we live at Fang Thon, it was natural to begin our pilgrimage from the western bank. The circuit was set off slightly after 9 a.m. We arrived at the neighborhood of Wat Kanlaya 15mins later after a short bus ride. Walking in to the soi leading to the first temple - Wat Kanlaya, we saw a busy food stall and had our breakfast there. Most stalls were closed because of the New Year. The little noodle shop, with only 4 or 5 small tables, that we patronized was overwhelmed by mainly devotees like us. It took longer than usual for our aahan-chao to serve. The wait was worthy. Said my growling stomach. ^_^"
Tomyam noodle Fishball noodle

1. Wat Kanlaya
Full name: Wat Kanlayanamit Woramahawihan
English name: Nil
Motto: Bon voyage
Getting here: Take Chao Phraya Express boat to Rajinee Pier (N7) and transfer to river-crossing ferry to reach Wat Kanlaya.

The golden Buddha in the Viharn is majestic and impressive.
Wat Kanlaya Wat Kanlaya Wat Kanlaya

How to shuttle among the 3 temples?
On the western bank of Chao Phraya River, it is relatively easy to travel from one temple to another because they are built along the river and only a stone throw away from their respective piers. On special days, these temples are well served by long-tail boats. Typically, it costs 20B for each ride. There is also a special 30B ticket where one enjoys unlimited rides among the 3 designated temples. Tickets can be bought at the piers.

It doesn't need a rocket-science degree to know that the special ticket is more economical than paying 2 single rides! We boarded a crowded long-tail boat which ferried us to our next stop ...

2. Wat Arun (วัดอรุณ)
Full name: Wat Arunratchawararam Ratchaworamahawiharn
English name: The Temple of the Dawn
Motto: Have a prosperous life

The central of attraction is none other than the Khmer-style main prang (chedi) which is flanked by four smaller ones at each corner. Also, there is an interesting tree within the temple compound. People were seen clapping their hands near the flowers. I don't exactly know why they did that.

Wat Arun belongs to the Royal temples of the first class.

Wat Arun Wat Arun Wat Arun Wat Arun

3. Wat Rakhang
Full name: Wat Rakhangkhositraram Woramahavihan
English name: The Temple of Bell
Motto: To be admired and loved

For unknown reasons, My teerak likes to visit this temple and as such, I have been to here countless times. I am, therefore quite familiar with the temple, the nuns and its surrounding.

"Rakhang" is bell in Thai language. An ancient bell was discovered in this temple grounds during the Ayuthaya period hence the given name of this temple. The original name of this temple was Wat Bang Wa Yai. Although the bell has since been transferred to Wat Phra Kaeo by the order of King Rama I, the temple has also been renamed to Wat Rajakhanthiyaram. This temple is still commonly known as Wat Rakhang till now.

My personal favorite place in this temple is none other than the Tripitaka Tower (Ho Trai) located in a tranquil garden to the left of the Phra Ubosot. The Tower is small and made entirely by timber. This beautiful Thai architecture is home to a huge portrait of King Rama I and archaic scriptures which are safe kept in an intricate Thai traditional wooden cabinet.

You may refer to my other post for more pictures of Wat Rakhang.

Wat Rakhang Wat Rakhang Wat Rakhang

With Wat Rakhang, we have done offerings on all the 3 temples on the western bank. Our next destination was Wat Phra Kaeo located inside the Grand Palace. To reach there, we took a 3 Bahts river-crossing ferry from Tha Rakhang to Tha Chang. After which, Wat Phra Kaeo is only a short walking distance away.

The good thing about visiting temples on a big day is that the admission is usually free regardless of nationality. Of course, elbowing withing an overwhelming crowd being the trade off. And at Wat Phra Kaeo, for example, we had to queue for 10 minutes before entering the temple compound.

4. Wat Phra Kaeo
Full name: Wat Phrasrirattana Sassadaram
English name: The Temple of Emerald Buddha
Motto: Endless wealth and prosperity

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo are, literally, the icons of Thailand which need little introduction. A point to note is that, being a Royal Temple and residing within the Royal compound, it is imperative that visitors observed strict dress code. To enter both places, visitors are not allowed to dress in a manner that reveals one's shoulders, lower limbs and toes. From my observations, infants and toddlers are exempted from this requirement. Gays who love to trot the globe in their Bermudas shorts and pink singlets, you are warned.
Over here, the scenes of Ramakien were painted on the inner walls of the temple. These murals with explicit details never failed to fascinate me.

Wat Phra Kaeo Wat Phra Kaeo Wat Phra Kaeo Wat Phra Kaeo Wat Phra Kaeo: Hanuman from Ramakien Wat Phra Kaeo: giant or Yak in Thai

Wat Pho located adjacent to the Grand Palace was naturally our next destination.

5. Wat Pho (วัดโพธิ์)
Full name: Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangkhlararm Rajwaramahaviharn (วัดพระเชตุพนวิมลมังคลาราม ราชวรมหาวิหาร)
English name: The Temple of Reclining Buddha
Motto: Have a secure and peaceful life

Wat Pho Wat Pho Wat Pho Wat Pho Wat Pho

At 1:30pm we left Wat Pho for the 6th temple, Wat Suthat, which is better known for its Sao Ching Cha (or the Giant Swing) in front of the temple's main entrance. It was a 15mins leisure walk but if not for the overcast weather on that day, we could have be drained entirely by our sweet.

6. Wat Suthat
Full name: Wat Suthatthepwararam Rajaworamahavihara (วัดสุทัศน์เทพวราราม)
English name: Nil
Motto: Enlarge your vision and fascinate surround people

Wat Suthat is one of the eight Royal temples of the first class. On normal days, a small fee is levied on foreign tourists. As it was New Year, the fee was waived. Notably, the courtyard in Wat Suthat appears to be marble tiled and looked smooth and glossy.

Wat Suthat Wat Suthat Wat Suthat Wat Suthat Wat Suthat Wat Suthat

It was past 2pm when we left the temple from the main entrance. We walked toward BMA and turned in to Din So Road to hunt for food and eventually, settled for a Chinese eatery. Despite of a few old paper-cuttings hung on the tired walls that suggested good eat, I found the food that we had to be comme ci comme ça at best. After the meal, I called for a snack bite at my favorite Mont which is a few block down the same road but alas, it was New Year and Mont Nom Sod was closed for renovation.

We then headed NE for our 7th temple - Wat Saket

7. Wat Saket
Full name: Wat Saket RatchaWoraMahaWihan (วัดสระเกศราชวรมหาวิหาร)
English name: The Golden Mount (ภูเขาทอง)
Motto: Create auspicious vision

The place is also colloquially known as Phu Khao Thong (Golden mountain) by Thai people.

Wat Saket Wat Saket Wat Saket Wat Saket Wat Saket Wat Saket

Prior to this attempt, I have never been to the last 2 temples that we were going to visit next. They are located at the vicinity of Khao San Road, a backpacker haven that I hardly explored. Despite of my numerous visits to Thailand, I have only been to Khao San a handful of times. And they were all because of the good foods at Mayompuri, Tom Yum Goong and Buddy Lodge.

At 4pm and with 2 more temples to visit, we hailed a tuk-tuk outside Wat Saket to send us to Wat Boworn. The ride was bargained to 35B. At first, the tuk-tuk driver asked for 50B.

8. Wat Boworn
Full name: Wat Bowonniwet Vihara Rajaworavihara (วัดบวรนิเวศวิหาร)
English name: Nil
Motto: Receive the good things in life

Traditionally, this is a temple of residence for the Royal members who enter monkhood. Although I did not spent much time in this temple due to time constraint, I found hints of Chinese art in the temple. The red wooden doors at the main entrance are engraved with images atypical of Thai style.

Wat Boworn: Front entrance Wat Boworn Wat Boworn Wat Boworn Wat Boworn Wat Boworn Wat Boworn

At 450pm, we left the temple ground of Wat Boworn and after traversing a few narrow soi, we arrived at our final destination - Wat Chanasongkram which is located directly across the Khao San police station.

9. Wat Chanasongkram
Full name: Wat Chanasongkram
English name: Nil
Motto: Conquer all obstacles

Unlike the rest of the temples that we have visited since this morning, Wat Chanasongkram doesn't belong to the majestic or glamorous type of temples. In fact, walking along KSR, Wat Chanasongkram might just appear as another typical temple in Thailand. No gigantic chedi, no eloborated chofas and no life-size kinarees. It is probably the history dated back to the era of King Rama I that makes this temple important.

There is an image of King Rama I's younger brother in front of the ubosot which many devotees worship.

Wat Chanasongkram is one of the eight Royal temples of first class in Thailand.

Wat Chanasongkram Wat Chanasongkram Wat Chanasongkram Wat Chanasongkram: Blessing by an abbot Wat Chanasongkram: An image of King Rama I's younger brother Wat Chanasongkram

Short of making this an Encyclopedia, I shall leave the story of how we make merits to the next post.


chacha said...

Hi, there...
I want to go 9 sacred temple by tour. But I don't know which tour who can arrange that. I'm from Jakarta.Help me please...

BODYholic said...

Hi chacha,
I have not came across any tour agents in Bangkok that conduct this tour. I doubt that there are many tourists who are willing to spend a whole day just to do temple visiting. It is a niche market for the tourism business.
If you have friends in Bangkok, they may be able to bring you to the 9 temples that I mentioned.

Anonymous said...


Have a few qns:

(1)How many hours did u take to visit all the 9 temples?

(2)How many hours did u spend in each temple (average)


BODYholic said...

1. We arrived at the first temple slightly after 9am, shortly after having a quick bite in the neighborhood. We left the last temple nearing 6pm. The entire pilgrimage took us approximately 9 hours.

2. I would say, on average, we spent about 30 - 45mins at each temple. But it is important to note that the intention of our trip was to make merits, not touring temples! It also helps that we know most of the mentioned temples pretty well. In case you are interested, we were stuck at The Golden Mount for a long time because of the limited standing room at the peak and the non-stop human flow. It was almost a complete standstill inside the temple.

chester low said...

hi there,

you mention that u visited the 9 temples of the day of new year .. does that means the 13th april ..

i would like to do the same this year and i wonder will i get splash with water from one temple to the other ??

thanks ..

BODYholic said...

Hi Chester,

No, it was 1st Jan on the Western calendar which is also a public holiday in Thailand.

Yes, you are likely to be drenched (not inside the temples) when you travel from temple to temple. The weather will be scorching hot anyway. :)

Feel free to write back.

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About THAIoholic

THAIoholic, the blog, is setup with the initial intention of keepsake. As time goes by, I find it harder and harder for my gray cells (of what left) to remember traces of great places we have been to, good foods we savored but missed, details that I should remember but they slipped away unknowingly.

Then, we have also friends and folks asking little details I thought I should blog them here, because my pea brain is simply no good at recollections.

My partner is a devoted Buddhist, his religion forbids him, and therefore me, from taking beef. As such, it's unlikely that there will be any info about beef dish found in this blog.

About BODYholic

moo and kratai BODYholic, also known affectionately as moo ooan (a.k.a fat pig) by his little kratai noi (a.k.a little rabbit), has intense interests in Thai foods, traditional Thai architecture, coffee and cheesecakes. I've to add that I'm not a prolific blogger.


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