The nine temple tour is a traditional merit-making practice for Buddhists in Bangkok, and a fantastic way to see the city’s spiritual treasures in observance of the New Year. Nine is an auspicious number for Thai people because the Thai word for nine, “gao”, also means to step forward or to progress. Undertake this nine temple tour for the Lunar New Year to prepare yourself for a new year of spiritual “progress”.
The tour is a day trip that will take you through the old city of Bangkok to the most historic and important temples. Each temple is easily accessed through a combination of public transit including ferries, tuk-tuks or taxis, and walking. Remember to dress appropriately for visiting sacred sites as dress codes are strictly enforced. We recommend the following route:
Begin your journey with Wat Phrakaew,the Emerald Buddha Temple. This is considered to be the most sacred temple in Thailand due to the historic and religious significance of the Emerald Buddha to the Thai people. The legend of the Emerald Buddha traces its history back several thousand years across India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Laos. Other noteworthy elements of this temple include the golden stupa and the perimeter wall, which is painted with elaborate murals depicting epic Thai stories.
Continue your tour by walking to the Tha Chang pier and taking a ferry across the river to Wat Rakhang. “Rakhang” means bell in Thai and refers to five large bells housed in a special belfry on the temple grounds. Traditionally, people believe that ringing bells can bring personal recognition and a good reputation.
From here, take the river boat again to Wat Arunand Wat Kalayanamitr. Wat Arun is one of the most iconic sites on the Chao Phraya, with a large golden spire that is visible from the river. The same ferry continues on to Wat Kalayanamitr, the “true friend” temple. You can observe or participate in many rituals and devotional acts here.
Backtrack across the river — taking the ferry back past Wat Arun and then across the river to Tha Tien pier — and then walk from the riverfront to the world-famous Wat Pho. Make merit and view the immense statue of the Reclining Buddha, or visit the world-famous Thai massage school also located on the temple grounds.
At this point, you’re on the final stretch of three more temples. Take a tuk-tuk or an air conditioned taxi to Wat Chana Songkhram. This temple was originally constructed during the Ayutthaya period and remains a peaceful respite from the busy life of the city.
Walk or catch a ride to Wat Bowonniwet Vihara. Many Thai kings have studied here and the temple is the resting place of His Majesty Rama IX. From here, you can take another taxi to Wat Saket, the Golden Mount. No visit to the Golden Mount is complete without the walk to the top and the stunning view of the city of Bangkok!
Your final stop is Wat Suthat, a short walk from the Golden Mount. This temple is famous for the giant swing which was once used in Brahmanic ceremonies.
Congratulations, this concludes the nine temple tour! Take your time to make merit and observe the serene beauty of Bangkok’s temples for a truly special day.