The Grand Palace, Bangkok
Situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the Grand Palace was once the official residence of the Thai Royal Family.
Today it is the top tourist attraction in Thailand, drawing over eight million visitors a year. The Royal Palace grounds contains many beautiful buildings, including Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, it is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a small admission fee of 400 Thai Baht.
Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Bangkok
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha lies within the Grand Palace complex which contains some of the finest examples of Buddhist sculpture, architecture, painting, and decorative craft in Thailand.
It is considered to be the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand There are three main doors used to enter the temple; however only the King and Queen are allowed to enter through the centre door.
The Emerald Buddha sits on a golden altar in the centre of the temple. The solid jade statue is only 45cm tall but despite its size it is the most sacred religious icon in Thailand.
Estimated to be 600 years old it first came to light when it was given as a gift to the King of Ayutthaya by the King of Cambodia in 1434.
The statue disappeared when the Burmese army attacked Ayutthaya and was feared lost, but it had only been hidden, a century later, the ‘Emerald’ Buddha reappeared. It has resided in many temples since then but was moved to its present location in 1784.
Wat Pho & Reclining Buddha, Bangkok
Wat Pho is the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok and home to the famous golden reclining Buddha. This enormous statue measures 46 meters long and 15 meters high, and was constructed by King Rama III in 1832.
Wat Pho also houses the renowned school of traditional Thai massage which is practised all over Thailand.
Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha), Bangkok
When the Burmese army was about to attack the city, the statue was covered with plaster to hide its value. It remained enclosed in its disguise for the next 2 centuries and was assumed to be worthless.
However; in 1957, when the statue was being moved to a new temple in Bangkok, it fell from the crane and was left in the dirt by the workmen.
The next morning, a temple monk, who had dreamt that the statue was divinely inspired, went to look, and noticed a crack in the plaster, he saw a glint of gold, and discovered that the statue was if fact made of pure solid gold.
This priceless magnificent seated Buddha which is thought to be about 900 years old, is 3 metres high and weighs over 5 tons.