Bangkok has a lot of Buddhist temples but other religions are represented as well. Read on for details of Chinese, Hindu, Brahmin, and Christian religious sites as well some Buddhist non-temple shrines.
Wat Mangkon Kamalawat is the largest and most important Chinese temple in Bangkok. It was built in 1871. The original Chinese name was Wat Leng Noei Yi until King Rama V changed it to Wat Mangkon Kamalawat. This means Dragon Lotus Temple in English.
The Tiger God Shrine also known as San Chao Pho Suea is a Taoist shrine and was built in 1934. The architectural style is Southern Chinese. According, to legend, the shrine is dedicated to the spirit of a tiger. The Tiger lived in the jungle surrounding this area and the statue is where his bones and spirit are kept.
The Kuan Yin shrine is located at the Thian Fa Foundation on Yaowarat Road in Bangkok’s Chinatown. It is one of the most popular shrines in the area being particularly busy on Chinese holidays. Locals come to make offerings and pray for blessings such as fertility, success, health, and happiness. Kuan or Guan Yin is the Chinese goddess of mercy and the Kuan Yin image here is 900 years old. Its carved from teak in a Tang dynasty art style.
The walls of the temple are painted with beautiful Chinese style murals depicting various gods and goddesses. The Thian Fa Foundation is a charity and the buildings surrounding the shrine is a hospital. Free traditional Chinese medical care is provided to the poor and homeless.
Location: 600 Yaowarat Road, Chinatown, Bangkok.
Getting There: MRT Hualamphong Station (exit 1). Cross the intersection and continue walking down Tri Mit Road turning right at the Chinatown gate into Yaowarat Road. The shrine is on the left-hand side.
The Khanh Van Temple also known as Wat Uphai Ratbamrung is a colorful Vietnamese/Chinese style temple. Its located on Charoenkrung Road in Bangkok’s Chinatown and was constructed in the late 18th century.
Location: 864 Charoen Krung Road, Chinatown, Bangkok.
Getting There: MRT Hualamphong Station (exit 1). Cross the intersection and continue walking down Tri Mit Road turning left at the Chinatown gate into Charoen Krung Road. The shrine is on the right-hand side.
Chua Pho Phuoc is a Vietnamese style pagoda in a cul-de-sac opposite the Grand China Hotel in Chinatown. It is also known as Wat Kuson Samakhon. In front of the shrine is a large image of Buddha Avalokitesvara also known as the lord of the world. He is also said to embody the compassion of all Buddhas. Behind the Buddha Avalokitesvara is the shrine containing the principal Buddha image. To the side, you will find a Vietnamese style pagoda.
Location: Ratchawongsee Road (opposite Grand China Hotel), Chinatown, Bangkok.
Getting There: Chao Phraya Express Boat to Ratchawongsee Pier. Walk up Ratchawongsee Road, cross the intersection and the pagoda is next to the post office on the right-hand side.
The bright red Chao Hon Wong Kung Shrine can be found in the Talat Noi area of Chinatown. It is also known as the Rong Kuak Shrine. The image of Hon Wong Kung was brought to Bangkok in the early Rattanakosin era from China by Hakka merchants. 100 years later during the reign of King Rama V a shrine was built to house the image in. In 1888 the shrine was rebuilt to the left of the old site and closer to the river.
The interior of the shrine features some attractive carvings and murals while the Hon Wong Kung statue is central. He is flanked on either side by other Chinese deities. There is an annual Hon Wong Kung ceremony on the birthday of Cai Sen (the God of wealth and fortune). This occurs on the 12th day of the 9th month of the Chinese lunar year. Normally this is around the end of October. The shrine is packed with visitors who come to pray and give offerings.
Location: Soi San Chao Rong Kueak, off Soi Wanit 2, Talat Noi, Chinatown, Bangkok.
Getting There: Chao Phraya Express Boat to the Marine Department. Turn left on to Soi Wanit 2 and take the first left.
Leng Buai Ia Shrine is an ancient Tae Chew shrine. It is assumed to be the oldest Chinese shrine in Thailand being built in 1658 during the Central Ayutthaya period. Chinese businessmen would come to the temple for refuge and pray for prosperity for their business.
The shrine is built in a traditional Chinese architectural style. In keeping with Chinese tradition, there is a building in the shape of a mountain. The roof is made of glazed colored tiles and decorated with 2 stuccoed dragons facing each other. The columns of the shrine are encircled by loop stuccoed dragons. Inside the shrine, there is a central altar with the figures of Leng Buai Ia and his wife. They are flanked by the Gong-Wu diety to the left and the Queen of heaven on the right.
Close to the entrance is a Ching dynasty ancient bell built by Emperor Tao Kwong. More ancient objects include three ancient plaques written in the name of Emperor Kwang Si of the Ching dynasty. Also, a bell inscribed with the name of Choen Thai Chew. There is also a container for incense sticks which was a royal gift from King Rama V. The Shrine can is also adorned with many attractive murals, carvings, and decorations.
Location: 125 Yaowarat Road, Soi 6, Chinatown, Bangkok.
Getting There: Boat: Chao Phraya Express to Ratchawongsee Pier. Walk up Ratchawongsee Road, cross the intersection and turn left into Yaowarat road. Soi 6 is on the left-hand side.
The Chao Zhou Shi Kong Shrine is one of the oldest Hokkien Chinese shrines in Thailand. Its located by the riverside at the end of an alley full of old car parts in Talat Noi community. Zhou Shi Kong was a much-respected monk who came from Fujian province in China.
The Shrine features attractive Qing dynasty architecture with an abundance of murals, paintings, wood carvings, and decorations. Inside the temple, you will find a large image of Zhou Shi Kong in the central chamber. There are images of other Chinese deities and Buddhist images in the side chambers.
During the annual Thekradat festival and the 9-day Vegetarian festival, Opera shows are held on a beautifully decorated stage. This takes place in the temple courtyard featuring fictional and historical folk stories of ancient conflicts and romance. The actors wear period costumes and dazzling face make up. A musical soundtrack accompanies the performance featuring musicians playing traditional instruments.
Location: Sien Kong Zone, (off Soi Wanit 2), Talad Noi, Bangkok.
Getting There: Boat: Chao Phraya Express Boat to the Marine Pier. Turn left onto Soi Wanit 2 and then left on to Soi San Jao Sien Kong. The shrine is in front of the River View Guest House.
Wat Phra Sri Maha Uma Devi Temple or Wat Khaek is located on Silom road in Bangkok’s central business district. Its the main Hindu temple in Bangkok and was built in 1879 by Tamil immigrants in south Indian architectural style. The outside of the temple is colorful with carved images of various gods and goddesses in different shapes and sizes.
Erawan Shrine is a Hindu shrine housing a statue of Phra Phrom, the Thai representation of the Hindu god Brahma. It is located at the Ratchaprasong intersection next to the Grand Hyatt Erawan hotel in central Bangkok. It is a popular tourist spot always buzzing with both locals and foreigners either worshipping or observing.
The Narayana Shrine is in front of the Intercontinental Hotel just across the road from the Erawan Shrine. Narayana is the twin incarnation of Vishnu and the god of mercy. The statue was placed here in 1997 to protect local businesses and shoppers from evil spirits. Narayana stands upon the shoulders of the half-man, half-bird Garuda who provided Narayana’s transportation. Worshippers leave offerings of flowers and sweet Thai desserts and pray for success in business.
Location: Intercontinental Hotel, Phloen Chit Road.
Opening Hours: 24 hours daily.
Getting There: BTS Chit Lom (exit 1).
The Indra shrine is located just outside the Amarin Plaza Mall next to the neighboring 7-11. Indra is the Hindu god of thunder, rain, and war and is the supreme ruler of all gods. The statue is made from dark green jade. Indra has 4 arms and holds a bow in his right hand and a thunderbolt in his left hand. The other 2 hands hold a trident and a spearhead. Thai Buddhists believe that Indra looks after mankind and his protection brings prosperity and happiness. Worshippers pray, light incense sticks and make offerings of garlands, flowers, food, and model elephants in return for Indra’s protection. If you want to worship, there is a stall next to the shrine selling these items.
Location: Amarin Plaza, 496-502 Ploenchit Road.
Opening Hours: 24 hours, daily.
BTS: Chit Lom Station (exit 2).
Bus: No. 511, 508 , 25 , 48 , 501
The Ganesha & Trimurti Shrines sit side by side at the front of the Central World shopping mall in central Bangkok. They attract a regular stream of worshippers who like to pray and leave offerings.
The Dhevasathan Shrine was built in 1784 by Rama I to be used for holding Brahmin rites and ceremonies. The temple consists of 3 Thai style buildings. Each house contains a shrine to one of the Brahmin gods Shiva, Ganesha, and Vishnu. In front of the three shrines is an image of Brahma enshrined under a small pavilion.
Location: 268 Ban Dinso Road.
Opening Hours: 08.00-17.00
Rules: No photography.
How to get there: Bus – No. 12, 35, 42, 508.
According, to tradition, Thai cities have a pillar (Lak Muang) which serves as a home for the cities guardian spirits. When Bangkok was established in 1782 a pillar containing the city’s horoscope was placed in Wat Phra Kaew. This was done at an astrologically determined auspicious time of 06.54am on the 21st April 1782.
The Tubtim Shrine also known as the penis shrine is located within the Swissotel on Nailert Road in central Bangkok. The shrine is in honor of a female spirit Chao Mae Tubtim. The shrine contains many phalluses of all sizes in wood and stone often decorated with ribbons or garlands.
Kelawar or Holy Rosary Church was built in 1786 by the Portuguese.
Assumption Cathedral is the principal Roman Catholic church in Thailand and the main church of the Archdiocese of Bangkok. In 1984 it was visited by Pope John Paul the second during his Thailand tour.
The Catholic Church of Santa Cruz was built in 1770 on land donated by King Taksin. It was used as a place of worship for the local community of Portuguese merchants and missionaries. It quickly became a popular church with Bangkok’s Catholic community of the time.
Saint Francis Xavier Church was originally built in 1834 after King Rama III donated money and land for the construction. However, the Church was destroyed in a storm 3 years later and rebuilt from wood. Eventually to serve the growing number of Catholics in Bangkok a new concrete church was built in European style. It was completed in 1867. The area around the church was home to many Vietnamese Catholics who had fled persecution in Vietnam. A Vietnamese market is located near the church.
The church is named after a Spanish Jesuit who came to the far east to spread the gospel. He traveled extensively in the far east but never came to Thailand. A statue of the saint can be seen atop the triple-arched portico frontage.
The interior of the church is simple but attractive with stained glass doors. One shows Saint Francis himself as well as Popes and Saints. There is a mural of the last supper above the middle door just inside the church. Also there are several statues including Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus.
Mass Schedule: Monday – Saturday 06.00 & 19.00. Sunday 06.30, 08.30, 10.00, 16.00. There are 2 confessional boxes outside the main entrance. The Immaculate Conception Church is just around the corner. Follow the street signs from Saint Francis Xavier.
The monument at one end of the courtyard was cast in Florence during a visit by King Rama V. After being shipped to Thailand the monument was placed in Dusit Garden before being presented to the Church in 1949. The monument seeks to recreate Jesus healing the blind Bartimaeus.
Location: 94 Soi Mitrakham, Soi Samsen 11, Dusit, Bangkok
Opening Hours: 05.30-20.00
Bus: 65 (red) from Sanam Luang, Bus 16 (yellow) from Surawongsee Road & Siam Square, Bus 50 (yellow) from Lumphini Park & MBK, Bus 505 (blue) from Lumphini Park & Central World.
Boat: Chaophraya Express Boat to Thewet Pier. Turn left onto Samsen Road and left again into Samsen Soi 11.