Where: Thailand, Southeast Asia
History: Epic, ornate Buddhist temples and statues
Go there for: Spectacle or enlightenment
With the domination of Buddhism in Thailand, there are plenty of holy sites to visit. Some of the most opulent Buddhist sites in the world are to be found here.
Wat Pho (The Temple of the Reclining Buddha), Bangkok
A well-known tourist destination, the magnificence of this huge gold-plated holy image is still a must-see. 150 foot long and 50 feet high, the Enlightened Buddha smiles tranquilly down upon tourists and devotees alike. A row of pots extends along the length of the “wat” (temple), and people wishing to obtain good luck and the blessing of the great Buddha make a cash offering, in return for which they get a collection of coins, one of which has to be placed in each of these pots.
Sukhothai Historical Park
Founded as Thailand’s original capital, the ancient city of Sukhothai is now one of Thailand’s most striking world heritage sites. Covering about 3 square miles, this huge temple compound is home to hundreds of beautifully structured wats and statues, with enigmatic Buddha smiles greeting visitors at every turn. The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum in the central zone provides interesting background information about the city, while more remote sites offer moments of rare beauty and tranquillity.
New Sukhothai provides a useful base in which to stay, dine and arrange guides or hire bicycles for daytime explorations of the old city.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai
Nestled into the forested hillside of Suthep Mountain, this temple is Chiang Mai’s most important landmark and a popular destination for Buddhist pilgrims. The magnificent image of the golden pagoda is compounded by the view over the city below and the rolling hills beyond.
By Rowena Forbes