Wat Benchamabophit

Top choice in Bangkok

Wat Benchamabophit.

You might recognise this iconic temple from its impression on the back of the ubiquitous Thai 5B coin. Also referred to as the Marble Temple, it was fashioned out of white marble imported from Italy. The distinctive bòht (ordination hall) of Wat Ben, as it is colloquially known, was built in the late 19th century under Rama V. The base of the central Buddha image, a copy of the revered Phra Phuttha Chinnarat in Phitsanulok, northern Thailand, contains his ashes.

In architectural terms, Wat Benchamabophit is known to have a plan that exemplifies the orderliness and aesthetics of classical Thai design. A shaded rectangular balcony bordering an open courtyard to the rear of the main chapel has 52 Buddha statues, representing every mudra (gesture) and style from Thai history, making this the ideal place to compare Buddhist iconography. You'll often come across devout local families conducting prayers and offering ceremonies in the balconies, and you're free to stand by and observe the rituals.