Bangkok’s most famous landmark, the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, are closed for the Royal Cremation in Bangkok this month. Local resident expert Andrew J Wood suggests alternative temples to visit

BANGKOK: October is the start of Thailand’s high season: most people visiting Thailand will make a few days stop in Bangkok.

Visitors should be aware that during October the country will pay homage to the late King Bhumiphol Adulyadej. The state funeral will take place 24-29 October 2017 with the actual cremation on the 26 October.

This is an immensely important and sad occasion for all Thais and Bangkok is expecting 250,000 visitors to view the cremation rites during this period.

In preparation the Grand Palace will be closed for most of October from 1st to 29th. So what alternative temples are there to see besides the Grand Palace in Thailand’s capital?

Located just next door to the Grand Palace is the wonderful Wat Pho. Home of Thai traditional massage. The grounds are extensive and beautiful, quite magnificent.  Wat Pho is such an interesting and photogenic place to visit.

It’s also home to Thailand’s largest reclining Buddha.

The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho is 46m long

In the temple grounds there is the famous and highly respected massage school, where Thai masseurs have been training since 1955. It’s open to the public and for a fee visitors can have the best Thai massage.

I visited recently and it was wonderful.

It’s easy and inexpensive and the massage centre is geared up for visitors. When you enter, there is a changing area and you will be given pyjamas to wear, which makes for a comfortable experience.

Wat Pho is located on Sanam Chai Road and Maharaj Road. +66 (0)2 225 9595.

Open hours: 08.00-17.00 daily

Afterwards stop by the Riva Arun hotel for coffee/lunch/dinner (reservations essential), just minutes walk from Wat Pho. The hotel’s roof top Above Riva Restaurant-Café is open all day long and has the best river views in town. It’s located directly opposite Wat Arun. (Hotel +66(0)2 221 1188)

Visiting Wat Arun is easy, take the ferry across the river to the famed Temple of Dawn (as it is also known). It’s now Bangkok’s premier icon. It is visible from miles around, especially from the river.

34 Arun Amarin Road, Kwang Wat Arun, Khet Bangkok Yai. To get there by boat, take a cross-river ferry at Tha Tien Pier.

Open daily, 08.00-17.00 daily

Thailand is 95% Buddhist, there are hundreds of Bangkok temples. Here are a few of my favourites, if you get time…visit them all!

Wat Benchamabophitr – The Marble Temple

Wat Saket – Golden Mount

Wat Traimit – solid Gold Buddha

Remember to dress appropriately. It’s best to cover legs and shoulders or you may not be allowed in. Also in some temples open-toe footwear is not allowed. All footwear must be removed inside the temple halls.

Your travel provider will be able to give you full details of daily tours to all of Thailand’s attractions and temples and if necessary arrange transport and guides.

About the author


English born Andrew J Wood, is a freelance travel writer. He has lived in Thailand for a quarter of a century.

For most of his career a professional hotelier. Andrew has over 35 years of hospitality and travel experience. He is a Skal member and director of WDA Travel Co. Ltd and its subsidiary, Thailand by Design (tours/travel/MICE). He is a hotel graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh. Andrew is also a former Executive Committee Director of Skal International (SI); National President SI THAILAND, Club President of SI BANGKOK and is currently A.VP Southeast Asia for Skal Asia, and Director of Public Relations Skal International Bangkok.

He is a regular guest lecturer at various Universities in Thailand including Assumption University’s Hospitality School and most recently the Japan Hotel School in Tokyo.