Bangkok is home to an awe inspiring range of amazingly decorated temples and Wat Ratchabophit is yet another fine example of the wide range of colour and architectural styles reflected in these beautiful structures across Bangkok. The colourful tiled rooftops, golden spires, and vaulting structures of Wat Ratchabophit are reminiscent of both traditional Thai architecture and gilded Italian architectural influences. Centrally located in Phra Nakon in the heart of the city, Wat Ratchabophit is easily included in a central Bangkok tour.
Built in 1869, Wat Ratchabophit welcomes you through doors featuring carvings of soldiers. The temple has a unique layout including a circular courtyard at the centre, within which stands a 43 meter high gilded chedi built in Sri Lankan style. The outside of the buildings are decorated with hand-painted glazed tiles similar to Thai benjarong enamels, while the doors and window frames are elaborately decorated with gold and mirrors.
South of the temple there are the buildings that house the monks and workers of the temple (known as kuti). At the far end of these are a Chinese-style building that at one time, was used by royalty when they stayed at the temple.
Wat Ratchabophit has two important and unique features worth visiting to see:
The Gothic-style chedi in the forecourt of the temple
On the west side of the temple, facing the Lawd canal, is a burial ground containing small monuments in a variety of styles. Most of them are for members of the royal family. It’s here that the occasional Gothic elements of the temple itself become more like mini cathedrals. In addition to the Gothic buildings, there are traditional wiharns featuring gilded pagodas on their roofs.
The Golden Pig statue
If you cross the canal using the footbridge at the north end of the temple, you’ll find a gilded statue of a pig. The story goes that the footbridge was built by one of the wives of King Rama V, it originally had no name, but since she was born in the year of the pig, the bridge became known by that name. The statue was later erected in her honour.
Things to remember on your visit to Wat Ratchabophit
Wat Ratchabophit is a working temple, when you visit a temple in Thailand there are some rules to know and follow:
- Dress properly (knees and shoulders should be covered).
- Take off your shoes when entering.
- Be respectful.
- Be quiet.
- No public displays of affection.
The easiest way to get to Wat Ratchabophit is by boat. Take the Chao Phraya River Express to the Tha Thien pier then walk through the market and up the street.
Ordination Hall at Wat Ratchabophit holds daily prays at 9.00 – 9.30am and 5.30 – 6.00 pm, if you come during these times you might get a peek inside.
Wat Ratchabophit is on Atsadang Road, Bangkok, along Khlong Khu Mueang Doem, and is open from 8am – 5pm seven days. Allow about an hour for your visit.
Wat Ratchabophit is close to many other great Bangkok temples, so you could spend the day exploring the multitude of styles and the wonderful architecture and art of temples like The Grand Palace/Wat Phra Keaw, Wat Pho (The Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and Wat Suthat and The Giant Swing.