Wat Phra Kaew (วัดพระแก้ว) or Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram (วัดพระศรีรัตนศาสดาราม) or Temple of the Emerald Buddha in English is one of the most important and sacred temples in Thailand. It was built during Rama I’s reign (the first king of the Chakri Dynasty which is the current ruling royal house of the Kingdom of Thailand). As you may know, Thailand has a ton of temples. For me, Wat Phra Kaew is a must-see temple because of its history and exquisiteness.
We call Wat Phra Kaew because, as you may know, Wat means temple and this temple houses Phra Kaew, the Emerald Buddha in the central ubosot. Visitors are not allowed to take photos inside the ubosot, so I cannot show you the deep green statue which is the main attraction here. But I guess just only seeing the photos taken from the exterior; you would want to visit this temple once in your life.
Wat Phra Kaew is located in The Grand Place area surrounding by 12 big doors. Only few doors are open. The door named “Wiset Chaisri” is the main entrance which is the only door that allows foreigners to come in.
Once you pass the door, you will see many people. The foreigners have to buy tickets first. The ticket price to enter Wat Phra Kaew might be the most expensive one comparing to other temples in Bangkok, but believe me, it’s worth it.
When entering the temple, you will easily see big gate-keeping giants. In this temple, there are 12 six-meter tall giants. If you look carefully at the giants, you will see that each giant has different colors in skin. And each giant has its own name! You will definitely be fascinated by the mural painting telling the Ramayana epic. Unlike other temples, you would not see monks staying in this temple. You might see monks here, but they are not living in this temple.
For me, Wat Phra Kaew is the most beautiful temple in Bangkok, but unfortunately I cann’t find words to describe how beautiful this temple is. So, I will let these photos tell you.
One thing I would like to warn you before you come here is be careful of scammers who will tell you that the temple is closed and try to take you to somewhere else such as jewelry stores or floating market. They usually work as a team. The first guy will tell you that the temple is closed. Then, while you were thinking of what to do or where to go next, another guy will approach you and sell the tours. They fool both foreigner and Thais. Don’t believe them. Try to find the main entrance and talk to the officers inside.
Update: February, 2014
How to get there: Na Phra Lan Road, Phra Nakhon District. Near Wat Pho. There are several buses to Wat Phra Kaew, but my preferred option is taking Chao Phraya Express Boat at Pier Tha Sathorn. Then, Get off at Pier Tha Chang and take a short walk to the temple. To go to Pier Tha Sathorn, you just get off from skytrain (BTS) at Saphan Taksin station and take the escalator down one level. You will see the pier.
Dress code: To enter the temple, you have to dress properly. Short pants, short skirts, and sleeveless t-shirts are not allowed.
Admission fee: Free for Thais, 500 Baht for foreigner [with this ticket, you can enter 1.) the grand palace and Wat Phra Kaew 2.) Either Vimanmek Mansion Museum, Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall and Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall or Sanam Chandra Palace 3.) The Pavilion of Regalia, Royal Decorations and Coins]
Opening Hours: Everyday from 08:30 to 15:30
***After visiting the temple, you can walk to The Grand Palace, which is one of the Bangkok’s landmarks. Currently The Grand Palace’s entrance gate is renovated. The only way to visit Grand Palace is to go from Wat Phra Kaew. ***
Have you ever been to Wat Phra Kaew or any other temples (wats) in Thailand? Share your experience with me in the comments!