Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok: The Emerald Buddha Temple

Last Updated: August 09,2019

Wat Phra Kaew, the Emerald Buddha Temple is home to the holy Emerald Buddha, commonly considered the most important Buddha statue and a potent religious-political symbol and palladium of Thailand. The temple is regarded the most sacred Thai Buddhist temple which became the royal chapel in 1784, just two year later than Bangkok was established as the capital city. 

Constructed on the grounds of the Grand Palace, the former royal residence, Wat Phra Kaew has been continually improved by a handful of Thai kings over centuries. It comprises of more than 100 lustrously colored buildings, golden spikes and dazzling mosaics and it opens to the public when not being used for important religious ceremonies by the royal family and it attracts hundreds of visitors every day.

Wat Phra Kaew on the grounds of Grand Palace.jpg

The Emerald Buddha

Visitors are usually fascinatingly astonished at how tiny the Emerald Buddha statue really is especially after visiting some massive Buddha statues in other temples such as Wat Pho. Carved from the green jade or perhaps jasper, the Emerald Buddha is only 26 inches (66 centimeters) in height, sitting in a meditation posture which is considered the most sacred symbol in Thai culture. Only the king of Thailand (or highest ranking royal family member when the king is not available) can touch it and has the right to help the Buddha to change the jewel-embedded golden garment during a formal ritual when season changed. Thailand has Three season: hot, rainy and cool. You also can see the other two seasonal garments not being on the statue displaying to the public in a nearby building on the grounds. 

History of the Emerald Buddha

The most precious Emerald Buddha of Thailand was firstly surfaced near Chiang Rai in 1434, but it is much older, no one knows the exact origin of the statue is unknown. According to the posture and style of the Emerald Buddha, it indicated that the statue may have been carved in India or Sri Lanka, but no one can verify it. It is also said the statue had been kept in Angkor Wat for a while and then transferred to Laos and it had spent 200 years in the country. Now, it is so precious in Thailand that the fortune and prosperity of Thailand are assumed to depend on it.  

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The construction of Wat Phra Kaew

The construction of the Wat Phra Kaew, also known as Temple of Emerald Buddha, was initiated when Rama I (King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke) changed the capital from Thonburi to the Bangkok in the year 1784. Unlike many other temples, this temple doesn't offer living quarters for the devoted monks. It barely has intricately ornamented statues, holy buildings as well as pagodas. The focal building is the central 'ubosot' (ordination hall), within which Emerald Buddha is placed. Even though it is miniature, it is still the most significant icon for the Thai people. Other eye-catching points in Wat Phra Kaew embrace a model of Angkor Wat, it was constructed at the command of King Rama IV at the time when Cambodia was under the control of Siamese. The model was afterward modernized using plaster at the directive of King Rama V to celebrate the first centennial of the Royal City. Likewise, the Balcony should be seen, which can thereby be compared to the temple wall. On the pillars of the balcony, there are stone carvings of the verses cataloging the murals. 

What to visit except the Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew

Wat Phra Kaew open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  On the sidewalks, Wat Phra Kaew compound has a huge collection of mesmerizing artifacts. 

The Healer

Precisely the darkened bronze statue on the west side of the temple is that of a hermit who dealt in medicine. Therefore healing is linked with this statue. The visitors who particularly come to pray for the sick ones offer flowers and burning joss as tokens of belief and respect.

Shiny Elephants

There are a number of elephants and their heads are rubbed often for good luck, thereby enhancing the luster. Kids customarily encircle the statues repetitively, if they fail in getting too much sugar. It is thought that children walk around the elephants three times for strength.

The Library

The beautiful library pavilion comprises numerous revered scriptures, but the original library was devastated by a massive fire.

Model of Angkor Wat

In 1860, King Mongkut had goals of taking to bits the “Angkor Wat in Cambodia” and shifting it to Bangkok as a clear demonstration of supremacy and power. Though his plan didn't work out really well, so he initiated the creation of the model of Angkor Wat as an alternative plan. The king died long before its complete execution; his son thereby completed the project.


There are countless murals create an association to be an all-embracing portrayal of the Ramakian, the Thai national classic inspired by the Indian epic Ramayana. This story comprehends the commencement of the world and also the depictions of Hanuman, who is the monkey king as well as the general.

How to get there

When as a visitor, you go to the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew can clearly be seen as positioned on the grounds in there. It is a well-known fact that the river taxi is the cheapest and a pleasant way to get to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.  You can simply get down from their boat at the Tha Chang Pier, the one which is with the elephant. The visitors can closely look for the adorned buildings of the palace. During your visit, there's a decent and bright chance that most of the people around you are also going to the same place. 

All taxis drivers will definitely know the route to take you to the right place, but regrettably, some of them will unfairly try to overcharge you. Since you will be new to the place and unaware of the details, some will even assert the Grand Palace is shut the day you plan on visiting. It perhaps isn't, but in order to make a confirmation, you can always call at this number +66 2 623 5500 with an ext. 3100, but only before 3:30 p.m.

How to dress when visit Wat Phra Kaew

Modest dress is required when visit the Grand Palace and especially Wat Phra Kaew. You will find numerous paddlers around the Grand Palace wanting to sell you appropriate clothing at inflated prices, so it is much better for you to dress appropriately before your visits.

  • Men must wear long pants and long-sleeved or short-sleeved shirts. Tank tops or sleeveless are forbidden. Women must wear pants or skirts falling below the knee and should not wear a top that reveals bare shoulders.

  • Clingy, tight, stretch/yoga pants or see-through clothing is forbidden.

  • No ripped Jeans or torn clothing.

  • No religious or death-related themes.

Other Etiquette to Know

One should strictly follow the customary Buddhist temple's etiquette while visiting at Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok:

  • Take off your hat, headphones as well as the sunshades

  • You should not be snacking/munching, chewing gum or smoking cigarette

  • One should observe a respectful silence.

  • It's an extremely unethical thing to turn your back to, point or even touch the images of Buddha

  • Photography is forbidden inside the temple area

  • Always remember: Wat Phra Kaew is a tremendously sacred place. You should always give the locals a room to enjoy. The actual worshippers shall not be disturbed.

Visit Thailand with UME Travel

We have carefully designed some Thailand tours including the sacred and elegant temples to give you some suggestions. Treat them simply as inspirations, because we will follow all your particular interests and tastes to create uniquely itinerary for you. 

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