Exploring Bangkok's famous wats and the Grand Palace can be an eye-opening but long, all-day experience. But if you're in good company and punctuate your stops with river boat rides and massages, you're bound to have loads of fun. Who knew that seeing a city's main sights could be more than just an obligation?
Wat Pho, the Grand Palace, and Wat Mahathat are three of Bangkok's greatest treasures that can easily be seen in succession by foot in a district called Ko Ratanakosin.
Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is home to a 43m long statue of Buddha and over 1,000 Buddha images, the most in all of Thailand. Those who love a good pampering should note that Wat Pho is also the birthplace of Thai massage. Definitely stop by the air conditioned pavilions for an excellent and cost-effective massage before leaving!
Adjacent to Wat Pho is the Grand Palace, a massive complex of buildings, halls, pavilions, and temples, including Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, that used to house the king and his royal government. Wat Phra Kaew is clearly the highlight here being the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. But don't let the intricate decoration and ornamentation distract you from the seeing what you came here for - the 66cm tall green statue of the Buddha.
Smaller in scale but more peaceful and less touristy is Wat Mahathat. It is also home to the oldest and one of the most important Buddhist universities.
If you walk along the river, you will likely spot a temple on the opposite bank that looks like it's been transplanted from Cambodia. This is Wat Arun, named after Aruna, the Hindu god of the rising son. Despite the sunrise significance, it's best if you come here in the late afternoon or early evening when the light is at its best.
We suggest the following itinerary for a fun and fulfilling wat hop: Meet at Wat Mahathat, explore the nearby amulet market and make your way south along the bank to the Grand Palace before checking out Wat Pho. From Wat Pho, head to Tha Thien pier and take the ferry cross river to Wat Arun. After exploring the wat, take the cross-ferry back and cap your day with beers at a rooftop bar. Game, set, match!
Meeting point: Outside Wat Mahathat.
Leaders, the Grand Palace closes at 3:30pm and Wat Arun closes at 6pm so start your day early so that you can cover everything!