Thailand Buddhist Temples

Thailand Buddhist Temples

The vast majority of people in Thailand are Buddhists for whom the temple plays an important role in the spiritual wellbeing of individuals and the community. There are over 31,200 Buddhist temples spread around Thailand. In Thai they are called wat. They are grouped into two main groups: temples which are permitted to carry out religious functions and those which are used only for living quarters for monks.

Wherever you happen to find yourself in Thailand you’ll never be too far from a temple where you can go to offer your prayers and “make merit” even if you aren’t Buddhist. Although all Buddhist temples share similar beautiful characteristics, there are some that are architecturally more magnificent and historically significant.

Temples are classified into two main categories: Royal Temples and Common Temples. The Royal Temples were either built by royalty or came under their sponsorship. In Thailand, there are about 200 Royal Temples though there are only six of the highest grade.

With its beautiful temples, rich culture and history, great weather, fine food and world-renowned beaches, Thailand is visited by approximately seven million visitors each year. It is a country of approximately sixty million people, with a land area equivalent to that of France. It is undergoing a remarkable economic expansion, with growth rates of approximately 8%-10 % each year. That’s why Thailand continues to enter the sights of Thailand property investors looking for new opportunities away from the traditional European and Caribbean markets. The two key drivers behind the Thai property market are the domestic economic growth and tourism, and the expectation is that developments in both areas will contribute to a continuing upward trend in property prices. People buy property in Thailand for a number of reasons, from capital investments, to holiday rentals (with a long-term view of capital appreciation), to personal use as a holiday or retirement home.

Tourists and other foreigners should know some basic information before visiting Thailand and especially its temples. Thailand is a Buddhist country where Buddha images are held secret. Sacrilegious acts are punishable by imprisonment even if committed by foreign visitors. Visitors to temples should ensure that they are suitably dressed – no shorts or sing lets and ladies should also cover their arms. Shoes should be removed before entering any building and it would be polite to sit quietly when in the main temple buildings.

When visiting a temple it is polite to seek the permission of the Abbott before taking photographs or entering other than the main area. This can be done by approaching a monk or one of the many helpers found in the temple grounds. Normally permission is granted without seeing the Abbott, but your show of respect by asking, will be returned. If visiting popular temples, such as Wat Phra Kaeo in the Grand Palace grounds, there is no need to seek any permission, but you should look out for signs indicating where photography is forbidden.

Wat Phra Kaeo temple is situated in the capital city of Bangkok and is more commonly known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha because it houses a small two foot jade statue of Buddha which rests upon a huge golden alter. The temple is very elaborately decorated with a rich array of colours that are sure to astonish and dazzle all visitors. This Buddhist temple is also significant in that it is the official royal chapel where the revered Thai royal family goes to perform their religious ceremonies. Phra Kaeo temple is situates inside the grounds of the Royal Palace and aside from the decorations of the actual building is home to some fascinating paintings and sculptures.

Wat Traimit, Temple of the Gold Buddha- the most amazing feature of this temple is the fact that the 3 meter tall Buddha image is made up of 5.5 tons of solid gold. It was made about 700 years ago in the Sukhothai period but the image was covered in plaster in fear of the invading Burmese. It was rediscovered about 40 years ago.

Besides these one should also visit the Wat Pho (Wat Phra Chetuphon or Temple of Reclining Buddha) Wat Suthat , Wat Ratchabophit, Wat Ratchanatdaram , Wat Thepthidaram , Wat Saket (The Golden Mount) , Wat Mahathat and the Wat Rakhangkositaram.

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