Many of Bangkok`s spiritual houses and sacred historical buildings are scattered along the banks of the Chao Phraya River and taking a boat tour along its channels (khlongs) is the best and fastest way to go sightseeing.
Boats stop at most of the temples, but the highlights are Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), Wat Pho (the oldest temple in Bangkok) and the Grand Palace along with the ‘Temple of Emerald Buddha’, locally known as Wat Phra Kaew, of course.
GRAND PALACE & WAT PHRA KAEW
Surrounded by a white wall that belies the unbelievably colourful world within, the Grand Palace is an opulent complex of exceptional architectonic elegance and harmony. The palace itself is not lived in by the king but used for ceremonial occasions.
Wat Phra Kaew truly is a firework of colours. The temple features a detailed design, particularly its columns encrusted with gleaming mosaic, gilded stupas and the swooping layers of the roofs that are tiled in shining orange and green – the whole structure is so bright that it almost hurts the eye.
BANGKOK CITY TEMPLES
Some of the most important spiritual places within the city centre are Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), Wat Intharawihan (The Temple of Standing Buddha), Wat Saket (The Golden Mount), the ancient Wat Suthat, Wat Kaeo Fa, Wat Amphawan, Wat Suwannara or Wat Yannawa.
For 400 years, from 1350, Ayutthaya was the capital of the immense Kingdom of Siam and home of 33 kings, until the new capital was established in the nearby Bangkok.
Nowadays, the ancient city of Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the favourite points of interest when it comes to sightseeing. Most of the visitors take a boat tour from Bangkok via Chao Phraya River that connects the cities – that is the easiest way to explore the island of Ayutthaya.
There are three main royal There are three main royal palaces in the area – the Grand Palace, the Chandra Kasem Palace and the Wang Lang Palace.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet was the largest temple in the city, serving as a palace for centuries. The adjoining Wat Mongkhon Bophit contains one of Thailand`s largest Buddha figures – all of bronze.
Other significant sites in the park are Wat Yai Chai Mongkhol, Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Wat Phanan Choeng, Wat Mahathat and Wat Ratchaburana.
Some of the temples were built in Khmer style. Many are ruined but still quite impressive, with beautiful Buddha figures, e.g. Wat Phra Meru from Sri Lanka more than 1,300 years old.
THE BUDDHIST ETIQUETTE
Every temple area is a sacred site for the Thai, who dress many of the Buddha figures in yellow robes, scatter petals and burn incense sticks reverently at their feet. The visitors must respect the local religion, behave decently, remain quiet when in the temple, dress appropriately and do not pose behind the Buddhas for ‘comic’ photos as it offends.
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