Wat Suthat belongs to one of Thailand’s six most important temples. The construction began in 1807 during the reign of King Rama I who wished to make it the central temple of Bangkok, and was completed 27 years later by King Rama III.
It is mainly famous for the Phra Sri Sakayamuni Buddha statue, the giant swing in front, and for its other architectural wonders.
Attractions – what to see
The Phra Buddha Shakyamuni is an 8 meter tall bronze statue from the 13th-century which was brought all the way from the ancient capital Sukhothai. It is considered as one of the largest Sukhothai period Buddha images in existence.
The remaining from the cremation of King Rama VIII (the brother of the current king) were interred in its base.
The wall of the temple is covered with exquisite and intricate paintings depicting the Jataka tales which talk about the 24 lives of the Buddha.
The columns are also painted with murals showing the early life of Bangkok. These paintings were started during the reign of King Rama II and were finished by King Rama III. Contrary to traditional Thai paintings, these works of art have western influences in them.
A special feature of Wat Suthat is the central pair of wooden doors which lead to the main wiharn (hall where the Buddha image is located) featuring carved tropical vines, plants and animals. It is believed that these doors had been designed and decorated by King Rama II himself. The wiharn is surrounded by a large and peaceful cloister which contains 156 beautiful images of Buddha.
The temple also has four chapels, many Chinese pagodas, bronze horses, and figurines of Chinese soldiers which are said to have been shipped from China as ballast in rice boats during the reign of King Rama I.
An interesting feature of this temple is the influence of the Hindu religion to be seen in the various facets in and around the temple. The beautiful intermingling of the two religions is seen in the Hindu Brahman priests officiating here on important ceremonies. The two Hindu temples close by with images of Lord Shiva and Ganesh bear testimony to this confluence.
The giant swing
The front of the temple has a much decorated giant swing named Sao Ching Chaa. This giant swing is within a red Chinese frame which was used as the center of annual ceremonies where teams of young men would try to swing high enough to retrieve a sack of gold tied to a pole about 25 meters above ground. The game was banned in the 1930s after many of these challengers lost their life.
Owing to a large amount of tourist attraction and local interest in this temple, Wat Suthat has been well maintained over the last two hundred years. Some of the structures and artefacts have been widely appreciated by tourists worldwide. This temple has graduated to being a well preserved, sacred sanctuary for Buddhist study and dissemination over the years. It is defiantly a must see for any tourist visiting Bangkok.
So if you want to capture the synthesis of the modern and traditional Thailand and its culture, Wat Suthat should be a must in your itinerary.
Opening Time: 9.00am – 9.00pm
Entrance Fee: 20 Baht per person
Location: Bamrungmuang Road
Phone Number: 02-222-0280
How to get to Wat Suthat
Wat Suthat is located at Bamrungmuang Road. However, it can get quite complicated to reach the temple. The easiest way is to take a public taxi. Fare is around 100-120 Baht from the city center.