It is estimated that there are over 40,700 Buddhist temples in Thailand, and the number is constantly increasing. Despite the fact that most temples of Thailand follow a similar architectonic style -and some tourists are quick to say: ‘seen one, seen all’-, truth is that in Thailand there are a few temples that break with tradition and show a totally different and original architecture.

Today we will focus on these, not the ones that are traditionally considered to be the most important, but to the most surprising, original and amazing temples of Thailand.

After many years living in Thailand and constantly traveling through the country, both for pleasure and for work, I have made this list with the 20 most original and unusual temples of Thailand that I have visited. The three most famous temples in Bangkok are not in this list: Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho and Wat Traimit, which we visit almost every day on our Bangkok temple tours.

Wat Samphran: the Temple of the Dragon

Temple of the Dragon
A little-known temple that looks like something out of Dragon Ball, thanks to the massive dragon with a serpentine tail tangled like a vine around the main 17-story tower. You can climb to the top of the tower and enter the dragon. The temple, however, has a dark history. The monk who promoted the construction of this temple was found guilty of abusing 6 girls for years. Today he is in jail, and that’s the reason why the temple is half abandoned, although some of the monk’s followers continue to keep it the best they can.
Temple of the Dragon 2
Location: It is located 40 kms from Bangkok. Location in google maps.

► Get to know more about Wat Samphran here.

Wat Pha Sorn Kaew, Gaudí style

Wat Pha Sorn Kaew 2

Wat Pha Sorn Kaew is a groundbreaking temple decorated with colorful mosaics and ceramics. It is estimated that it is coated by more than 5 million pieces of ceramic. In addition, it has a huge astonishing statue depicting a sitting Buddha with 4 extra bodies decreasing in size attached to its front. It is located in the beautiful Khao Kho National Park.

Wat Pha Son Kaew temple
Location: It is located 415 kms north of Bangkok. Location in google maps.

► More about Wat Pha Sorn Kaew and the Thai Alps

The Sanctuary of Truth, Pattaya

sanctuary of truth

This temple is located in the city of Pattaya, famous for being the largest sex tourism center in Thailand. We can only guess if that’s the reason why promoters of this temple felt the city needed a Sanctuary of Truth. The temple is made of wood, something unusual in Thai Buddhist temples, and is ornamented with Hindu motifs. The construction began back in 1981 and is expected to be completed in 2050, although it has been open for visitors for years.

sanctuary of truth 2

Location: It is located 150 kms southeast of Bangkok. Location in google maps.

Wat Bang Kung, in Symbiosis with Nature

wat bang kung 2

The most amazing thing about this ancient small temple, built in Ayutthaya times, is that it is completely surrounded by the roots of a huge tree, like many Cambodian temples from the Angkor era. Nature has decided to take it, giving an incredible look to a small temple that would otherwise go unnoticed.

wat bang kung temple

Location: It is located 100 kms from Bangkok. Location in google maps.

Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple

white temple

One of the most famous and visited temples in Thailand. The strange figures that decorate it and its immaculate white, which symbolizes the purity of Buddha, give it a unique and original appearance. Construction began in 1997 and does not yet have a clear completion date, although it is speculated that it will be completed around 2070. Chalermchai Kositpipat, the architect who devised the temple compound, its buildings and its statues, is a big star in Thailand. Admission is 80 THB.

white temple 2

Location: It is located in Chiang Rai. Location in google maps.

Wat Prathat Lampang Luang, a Historic Temple

lampang luang temple

This ancient temple from the 13th century, built in Lanna style (northern style), has a huge and picturesque stupa, combining gold and black. The stupa is believed to contain a hair of the Buddha himself as a relic. The temple is fortified, and it starred in a memorable story in the 18th century: when it was invaded by Burmese troops, 300 brave locals managed to free it and kill the Burmese general. In one corner are bullet holes believed to have been fired by the main Thai hero in this story: Nan Thipchang.

lampang temple

Location: It is located in Lampang. Location in google maps.

Wat Phra Prang Sam Yot, the Monkey Temple

monkey temple lopburi

Lopburi’s famous ‘Monkey Temple’ is one of the oldest in Thailand. It was built in the 13th century during the Angkor Empire era, specifically by King Jayavarman VII, the same monarch who built the famous Angkor Thom city in Siem Reap. Most visitors are drawn here not by the history or architecture of the temple, but by photographing the hundreds of monkeys that live in it. The monkeys completely took over the temple, although the temple keepers do their best to keep them away from the inner area.

lopburi temple

Location: It is located in Lopburi, 140 kms north of Bangkok. Location in google maps.

Wat Phanom Rung, a small-sized Angkor Wat

phanom rung temple

Like the previous one, Phanom Rung temple was built in the Angkor Empire era. It is considered the most important Khmer temple outside of Cambodia’s Angkor Historical Park. It is a Hindu temple complex dedicated to Shiva, and it was built between the 10th and 13th centuries on top of an extinct volcano.

phanom rung temple 2

Location: It is located 63 kms from Buriram. Location in google maps.

Wat Tham Sua, the Tiger Cave Temple

Wat Tham Sua

Wat Tham Sua, literally the ‘Tiger Cave Temple’, is one of the holiest in Krabi. Despite the name, you will not find any tiger other than in pictures and statues. What makes this temple special is its hilltop location, and the huge gilded sitting Buddha that presides over the main terrace. But the amazing views from the peak come at a price: you’ll have to climb 1237 steps.

wat tham sua 2

Location: It is located 20 kms from Ao Nang (Krabi). Location in google maps.

Wat Saam Prasob, the sunken temple

wat saam prasob

This modern temple was built in 1950, but only 18 years later it disappeared – with no magic involved. In 1968 the massive Khao Laem Dam was built, and the temple and its surrounding village drowned below the water. Every year, when the water level in the dam drops, the temple becomes accessible again, and locals take the opportunity to visit it and make offerings to the Buddha statue that still presides over the altar.

wat saam prasob 2

Location: It is located in Sangkhlaburi. Location in google maps.

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Wat Wang Wiwekaram, a replica of India’s Mahabodhi

Wat Wang Wiwekaram

This temple, also located in Sanghklaburi town, is an exact replica of the pagoda in the Indian city of Bodh Gaya, where the Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment. It was built in 1953 under command of the famous monk Luang Phor Uttama, whose mummified body is kept inside the temple.

Wat Wang Wiwekaram 2

Location: It is located in Sangkhlaburi. Location in google maps.

Wat Phra Pathom Chedi, the Largest Stupa

Wat Phra Pathom Chedi

This temple has the largest stupa in Thailand, and the second tallest in the world after Sri Lanka’s Jetavanaramaya. An immense 120-meter-high chedi that can be seen from various points of the city. One of the oldest Buddhist temples in all of Southeast Asia is believed to have been built on the same site in the 3rd century BC. The current stupa is much more modern: it was built in 1870 and restored in 1981.

Wat Phra Pathom Chedi 2

Location: It is located 55 kms from Bangkok. Location in google maps.

Wat Mahathat, the Buddha Head among Tree Roots

wat mahathat ayutthaya

Wat Mahathat was built in the 14th century in Ayutthaya, then the capital of the Kingdom of Siam. Wat Mahathat was the most important temple in the city, as it was located right next to the Great Palace where the royal family lived. In addition, this temple housed the Supreme Patriarch, the highest religious leader of Thai Buddhism. Today, crowds of tourists are drawn there by the famous Buddha head entwined between the roots of a large tree. When the Burmese invaders destroyed the city, everything was abandoned. Thieves or Burmese military cut this head off a Buddha statue, either to steal it or as humiliation. For some reason the head was abandoned, and over the years a tree grew next to it and its roots grew around it. What is mysterious, or a divine sign according to many locals, is the fact that the roots have respected the face of Buddha without actually covering it up.

wat mahathat ayutthaya 2

Location: It is located in Ayutthaya, 80 kms north of Bangkok. Location in google maps.

Wat Si Chum, the Huge Ancient Buddha

wat si chum sukhothai

Built in the 13th century in the ancient capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom, Wat Si Chum is set back from the temple grounds, so there are usually few people visiting it. As you approach the temple, you can already see the immense Buddha peering through the crevice-shaped front opening. Upon entering, the small enclosure forces the visitor to look up at the statue and perceive its grandeur. There is a set of stairs that climb up to the side of Buddha’s head. It is believed that monks would climb to that spot and give their speeches, to simulate that their words came from within the Buddha statue.

wat si chum sukhothai 2

Location: It is located in Sukhothai. Location in google maps.

Prasat Hin Phimai, from the Angkor Empire

phi mai temple

This temple, built in the 11th century, is the main attraction of Phi Mai Historical Park. Like two other previous temples of Thailand that we have already seen, Prasat Hin Phimai is an important temple of the Khmer Angkor Empire.

phi mai temple 2

Location: It is located 320 kms northeast of Bangkok. Location in google maps.

Wat Rong Suea Ten, the Blue Temple

wat suea ten

Wat Rong Suea Ten, the Blue Temple, is a fairly new temple in Chiang Rai. Its construction began in 2005 by Phutha Kabkaew, a local architect who had previously worked on the famous Wat Rong Khun, the White Temple. The main colors are blue and gold, and inside the main chapel there is a large Buddha statue 6.5 meters high, completely white. The color scheme gives it a unique look that sets it apart from the rest of the temples of Thailand.

wat rong suea ten 2

Location: It is located in Chiang Rai. Location in google maps.

Wat Sri Suphan, the Silver Temple

silver temple chiang mai

Wat Sri Suphan temple, or Silver Temple, is one of the most original in Chiang Mai, the most important city in northern Thailand. It is completely covered in silver, from floor to ceiling and roof, as well as all its ornamentation and Buddha statues.

silver temple chiang mai 2

Location: It is located in Chiang Mai. Location in google maps.

Wat Huai Pla Kung, the New White Temple

wat huai pla kung temple

This new temple is the second white temple in the city of Chiang Rai. The main attraction is a huge figure of a Chinese goddess, about 27 stories high, accessible by elevator. It is not 100% finished either, but it will undoubtedly soon become yet another star of the city that has more weird temples of Thailand: Chiang Rai.

wat huai pla hung chiang rai 2 2

Location: It is located in Chiang Rai. Location in google maps.

Wat Muang, the Huge Ang Thong Buddha

ang thong buddha

Standing 92 meters tall and 63 wide, Ang Thong’s Big Buddha, inside Wat Muang temple grounds, is the largest seated Buddha image in Thailand. Construction began in 1990 and was completed in 2008.

Ang-thong-budaLocation: It is located in Ang Thong. Location in google maps.

Wat Pak Nam, the New Big Buddha of Bangkok

Wat Pak Nam is a very old temple of Bangkok. It was established in 1610, during the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. That makes it one of the oldest temples in the capital of Thailand. However, it has never been a well-known temple among tourists. But this is going to change. We believe Wat Pak Nam will soon be the new star among temples in Bangkok for foreigners, and the main reason for that will be its new huge sitting Buddha, the Phra Buddha Dhammakāya Thepmongkhon image. It’s 69 meters tall and 40 meters wide. Furthermore, the surroundings of this temple are just beautiful and quiet.

Location: It is located in Thonburi, Bangkok. Location in google maps.
Pol Comaposada

Pol Comaposada

Pol has been traveling and creating content about Thailand and others parts of Asia since 2010. Founder and manager of Mundo Nómada Travel, a DMC (tour operator) with office in Bangkok that offers high quality tours and tailor-made packages in Thailand.

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