Travel Export Discussion Forum News Mail
Service Apartments
Resorts & Spas
Getting Around
Sky Train
Historical Sites
The Grand Palace
The Emerald Buddha
The Temple of Dawn
The Giant Swing
The Golden Buddha
Floating Markets
Jim Thompson's House
The Snake Farm
Dream World
National Museum
Facts for Travelers
Useful Numbers
Tourist Offices
Festivals & Events
Central Region
Central Region
See Other Regions
Prachuab Khiri Khan
Travel Q&A

Welcome \ Travel \ Historical Sites


Wat Phra Kaeo, Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Temple of the Emerald BuddhaThe Temple of the Emerald Buddha, located in a separate complex within the compound of the Grand Palace, is Thailand's holiest shrine. Officially named Wat Phra Si Rattanasatsadaram, the temple complex was modeled along the same lines as grand chapels from the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya eras. No monks reside within the temple.

Construction of this site started in 1782, the year of the founding of Bangkok, as a shrine for the Emerald Buddha, a 66-cm tall jadeite statue and Thailand's most sacred Buddha image.

The Emerald Buddha, thought to be Lanna in style, sits atop an ornate gilded altar inside the 'bot' or royal chapel. The image wears three different costumes depending on the season: a crown and jewelry in the hot season; a golden shawl in winter; and a gilt robe and headdress in the rains. Each change of costume is presided over by the reigning monarch.

The inside walls of the chapel are covered in mural paintings depicting the Buddhist cosmology, the Buddha subduing the Mara (demon of desire), and jatakas-scenes from the daily life of the Buddha. The chapel's door panels are inlaid with mother-of-pearl illustrating scenes from the epic Ramakien.

On the upper terrace of the compound are three more sacred buildings. The Royal Pantheon, surrounded by gilded male and female 'kinaree' (half-human figures), houses statues of past sovereigns of the ruling dynasty. This building is only open to the public on Chakri Day.

The huge golden pagoda of Phra Si Rattana Chedi enshrines a fragment of the Buddha's breastbone. The reliquary was originally built during the reign of King Rama IV, while the golden tiles on the exterior were added during King Rama V's reign.

The magnificent Phra Mondop is used as a library to house Buddhist scriptures. Built by King Rama I, this building is closed to the public. The nearby model of Angkor Wat was donated during the reign of King Mongkut.

Galleries demarcating the entire compound feature murals depicting the story of the Ramakien. The 178 panels were painted at the end of the 18th century but have since been restored many times.

The Story of the Emerald Buddha

Thailand's Most Sacred Buddha ImageThe Emerald Buddha was first discovered at Wat Phra Kaeo in Chiang Rai province in the year 1434, when a bolt of lightning struck a pagoda, revealing a small and seemingly insignificant stucco Buddha image. After many years, the plaster began to crumble away, revealing the beautiful green jade image beneath. When the King of Chiang Mai heard of the discovery, he sent an army of elephants to take the image. The elephant carrying the treasure refused to take the route back to Chiang Mai however, instead heading south towards Lampang.

the gate keeperThe image was moved several times over the years, from Lampang to Laos and was finally retrieved from Vientiane by General Chakri, the future King Rama I, in 1778. The Emerald Buddha was kept at Wat Arun for a while before taking its place on a high golden alter in Wat Phra Kaeo in 1785.

Several miracles have been associated with the Emerald Buddha, bringing the image a reputation for good fortune. Today thousands of Buddhists pay their respects in front of the fabled image.

Wat Phra Kaeo and the Grand Palace are open to the public daily from 8.30 am to 11.30 am and 1.00 pm to 3.30 pm. Admission costs 125 baht which includes entry to the Royal Thai Decorations & Coins Pavilion within the Grand Palace, and Vimanmek Palace and the Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall in nearby Dusit district.Find Wat Phra Kaew on the Map

Look for historical sites in other provinces.

Check our featured historical sites index in Bangkok or across Thailand and discover great ideas for your next trip

Back to Top