Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)
(2 Sanamchai Road, Grand Palace Subdistrict, Bangkok; 02 226 0335; www.watpho.com)
The Temple of the Reclining Buddha, or Wat Pho, is undoubtedly one of the largest and oldest temples in Bangkok. It is mostly famous for the gigantic statue of a reclining Buddha that measures around 45 meters in length, and has been the main attraction in Bangkok for many years. The galleries are also worth a visit as they house images of the Buddha from the ruins of the historic capitals, Sukhothai and Ayuthaya. Wat Pho is also known for the traditional Thai massage school where customers can both enjoy massages and take courses.
Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun)
(158 Wang Doem Road, Wat Arun, Bangkok (take the boat to Pier Tha Tien and then take the ferry to cross the river; 02 891 2978; www.watarun.org)
Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, is best known for the stunning tower that sends out beams of light to brighten up Bangkok’s nightscape. The monumental tower is 70 meters in height, and it features pieces of colored glass and broken Chinese porcelain. Wat Arun is somewhat like the Eiffel Tower of Thailand: it glows brightly at night, and travelers can enjoy its magnificent sight while cruising on a boat along the Chao Phraya River. Because of its vibrancy and outstanding architecture, it is voted as the most popular sight for photography.
The Grand Palace
(Na Phra Lan Rd, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok; 02 623 5500; www.palaces.thai.net)
Located near Wat Pho, the Grand Palace is considered one of the most significant places in Thailand. The monument houses much of Thailand’s history. The Grand Palace is exceptionally beautiful at night, as it glows with stunning golden lights. The sight’s major attraction is the magnificent Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The Grand Palace Hall contains historic items such as old weapons and artifacts. Each year, a crowd of people gathers around the Grand Palace to get a brief view of the Queen as she makes an appearance on the occasion of her birthday.
Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew)
(Na Phra Lan Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok (same location as The Grand Place); 02 224 3290)
Wat Phra Kaew, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is considered the most valuable temple in Thailand. It is located inside another major attraction, the Grand Palace. The sight was sanctified back in the 14th century, and it remains the spiritual center of Thai religion today. Unlike the statues of the Buddha in other temples, the Emerald Buddha is relatively small, as it is only approximately 66 centimeters tall. Despite the statue’s small size, it is one of the most visited attractions due to its historical value. The Buddha is covered in different robes every season for ceremonial purposes.
The Jim Thompson House
(6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Rd, Bangkok; 02 216 7368; www.jimthompsonhouse.com) The Jim Thompson House is the home of an American entrepreneur who opened the silk business after World War II. The house is located in a jungle landscape that can be an attraction of its own. This Thai-style house has a collection of Asian art, including sculptures, paintings, porcelain, and other unique items. Many consider the antiques as national treasures as they were preserved from being lost and abandoned. Many of the items at the house were handpicked by Thompson himself in different regions of Thailand, such as Nakhon Kasem and Ayutthaya.
(3 Thanon Maharat, Na Luk, Krabi; 02 222 6011)
Wat Mahathat is unquestionably one of the most valued religious sites in Thailand. The main attraction of this largest temple in Sukhothai is the colossal statue of a seated Buddha. Wat Mahathat offers daily classes to locals and foreigners to provide them an opportunity to learn about Thai Buddhism and meditation. The temple also offers an activity that may be an entertainment for some: fortune-telling. It is also well known for its serene night sights and beautiful light show.
The Thailand–Burma Railway Centre
(73 Jaokannun Road, Ban Nua, Kanchanaburi; 034 512 721; www.tbrconline.com)
The Thailand–Burma Railway Centre is an informative museum that presents the history of the railway and the role it played in major historical events, such as World War II. The building was built by Allied prisoners under the command of the Imperial Japanese Army during the war. The museum features eight main galleries that show artifacts used in the war, the life of the prisoners, and video clips to further illustrate the relationship of Kanchanaburi with WWII. The railway center also offers tours to locations associated with the railway, and the prison camp and other aspects of the historic event.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
(Tambon Suthep, Amphone Mueang, Chiang Mai; www.doisuthep.com)
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a sacred temple located on the hills in Chiang Mai. The temple is reached by walking up the more than 300 steps of the Naga staircase, which is decorated with statues and mythical serpents. Fortunately, a cable car is available those who want to save energy for other spots at top of the hill. After reaching the top, your eyes will be rewarded with breathtaking views in front of you. The beautiful golden spire, the White Elephant statue, and golden chedi are major attractions that are worth a visit.
Wat Chedi Luang
(103 Road King Prajadhipok Phra Singh, Chiang Mai; 053 276 140)
Wat Chedi Luang is regarded as one of the must-see attractions in Chiang Mai. It not only attracts visitors as a religious site, but it also delights tourists with its architectural charm. It was once the home of the famous Emerald Buddha, which is now located in Wat Phra Kaew. The site is most famed for having the largest Buddhist chedi in Chiang Mai, which measures approximately 98 meters high and 54 meters around. Another attraction of Wat Chedi Luang is the Lak Mueang, a city pillar that is rumored to house the guardian deity of Chiang Mai.
Ancient City (Mueang Boran)
(296/1, Sukhumvit Road, Bang Pu, Samutprakan; 02 709 1644; www.ancientcity.com)
The ancient city is one of the largest outdoor museums in the world. This massive historical site is 80 hectares in size and features 109 copies of the country’s most illustrious monuments and buildings. When entering the city, people can imagine themselves living in the past in a tranquil setting that greatly differs from the city outside. This site educates the visitors about the history of Thailand and also impresses them with scale models of monuments to offer a realistic experience for visitors. The museum offers bicycle rental service to make the tour even more convenient and efficient.