TRANSCENDENT TEMPLES, Bangkok's Most Beautiful Unknown Sanctuaries

Explore some of the most obscure little-known temples in Bangkok

Some of Bangkok's most beautiful and fascinating Buddhist temples are rarely visited by tourists, and little-known to city residents who do not live in their immediate vicinity. Oases of peaceful contemplation and devout merit making, Bangkok's Transcendent Temples hold simple wonders waiting to be discovered by guests with special interests in Buddhism, art, and Thai history.

Embark this morning with your personal guide who is especially knowledgeable about Buddhism, Thai history, and traditional arts to explore your choice of visit little-known temples in Bangkok. Start your pilgrimage at one of Bangkok's most glorious and nearly forgotten temples, constructed during the reign of King Rama V. This sanctuary is exemplary for many reasons, including its unique circular colonnade, superb regal crests on its grand doors rendered in intricately inlayed mother-of-pearl, and the astounding fact that its exterior is completely covered in hand-painted benjarong ceramic tiles portraying male angels,

Yur guide will try to arrange for you to view the two royal chapels, whose design was inspired by European cathedrals and the courtly architecture of Versailles. Wander through its quiet, well-tended garden of gorgeous funerary follies incorporating elements of gothic church spires and stained glass. Nearby is a sadly neglected, yet dignified, royal temple from the era of Rama IV. Beside the temple is an astonishing and beautifully proportioned chapel whose spire is topped with serene faces inspired by the Bayon in Angkor. Inside the main hall are especially significant murals of traditional Thai festivals and ceremonies. Of special note, they depict a night time version of the Royal Barge procession, whose gilded celestial barges are lit by floating torchlight!

Next, visit a tiny temple complex which serves a riverside market community of old wooden homes and ice-making factories. Inside the old chapel are murals which depict monks dispassionately tending decomposing corpses. The mural artists painted fanciful background scenes including then-futuristic looking biplanes and dirigibles! Higher up, surrounding the main Buddha image, is a glorious ultramarine-blue paradise filled with billowing clouds and cavorting Thai angels. The murals show significant decay in just the last few years, so visit here before they vanish from neglect. We suggest you take lunch at the unpretentious riverside restaurant nearby that was voted "Best Seafood Restaurant" several years ago by a popular Bangkok magazine. (We eat there all the time. You'll love it.)

After lunch, visit an ancient temple in Thonburi, the original location of the Siamese capital before it moved to the sleepy fishing village of Bangkok. Constructed in the Ayutthaya period, it was remodeled by King Rama I. The main hall is now locked due to recent vandalism, but our guide will arrange for the key from the temple abbot so that you may view some of Thailand's most spectacular temple paintings, including a vibrant battle scene with hilarious and humiliating depictions of the grotesquely rendered foreign invaders. Although water-damaged from a leaky roof, the murals are now being preserved by the Fine Arts Department for future generations. If you are very lucky, you may witness a rare animist spectacle which is rumored to take place here in which a person whose wishes have been granted gives thanks to benevolent spirits by prancing around the ordination hall, hobby-horse style.

Continue exploring tranquil and inspiring temples with our guide at your own pace until the end of the afternoon.

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Includes:personal guide only. Please pay for local transportation and lunch for the guide.