Wat Traimit: Bangkok’s Golden Buddha
Wat Traimit, also known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha, is famous for housing the world’s largest solid gold statue of the Buddha. The statue itself, is approximately 4.6 meters (15 ft) tall and weighs around 5.5 tons (11,000 lbs). It’s estimated to be worth more than 28.5 million pounds (£).
Name (Eng): Wat Traimit Withayaram Worawihan
Name (Thai): พระพุทธมหาสุวรรณปฏิมากร
Address: 661 Charoen Krung Rd, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100
Opening Hours: 8.00 to 17.00 daily
Entrance Fee: 100 baht for foreigners & free for Thais
Length of Trip: 1-2 hours.
Trip Type: cultural / historical.
Age Restrictions: none.
Dress Code: modest and conservative.
The Golden Buddha, also known as Phra Phuttha Maha Suwana Patimakon, is an extraordinary masterpiece of Buddhist art and craftsmanship.
The composition of the image is made of varying levels of gold purity. Approximately 40% of the body consists of pure gold, while its face boasts an impressive purity of 80%. The image’s hair and topknot, exuding intricate detail, are crafted from an astounding 99% pure gold.
Seated in the classic meditation posture known as the Dhyana Mudra, the Buddha’s hands rest gently on its lap, with the right hand placed atop the left, forming a meditative gesture.
Stylistically, the image is sculpted in the elegant Sukhothai style. This artistic expression of the Buddha features elongated proportions, evoking a sense of timeless grace. The Buddha’s face is characterized by gently arched eyebrows, half-closed eyes that emanate inward contemplation, and softly curved lips that seem to hold a hint of a compassionate smile.
Puzzled by the origins of the Golden Buddha, scholars have honed in on a significant clue – the image’s distinctive egg-shaped head. This sole characteristic indicates that the image was likely crafted during the Sukhothai era, within the early 13th century.
Tracing its historical journey, the Golden Buddha found a place in Ayutthaya during the 1400s. Fearing the threat of invasion by Burmese forces, it was encased in layers of protective stucco, a strategy that proved remarkably effective. Even after Ayutthaya’s decline, the statue remained concealed and untouched amidst the passing years.
Moving forward to the 1800s, the image found itself within Bangkok’s bustling Chinatown, housed in Wat Chotanaram. However, the temple’s prominence waned over time, causing the Golden Buddha to be transferred to Wat Traimit in 1935.
Then, in 1955, an unexpected event took place. An attempt to move the image caused it to fall, thereby cracking its stucco exterior and revealing the gleaming gold hidden beneath.
Further enriching its legacy, in 2008, the Golden Buddha was enshrined in the Phra Maha Mondop, a distinguished structure that adds to the image’s significance. This final resting place solidifies its status as not just an artistic marvel but a revered holy relic, encapsulating centuries of both history and devotion.
The Exhibition & Heritage Center at Wat Traimit serves as an enriching complement to the temple’s iconic Golden Buddha. Offering historical context, cultural insights, and educational value, the multi-floor center presents a comprehensive narrative of the temple’s significance within the Yoarawat community of Chinatown.
The entrance fee is an additional 100 baht, that’s well worth the cost.The center features a variety of traditional Thai artwork and historical set recreations (with mannequins).
Wat Traimit is conveniently located in the bustling Chinatown district of Bangkok. You can use various modes of transportation to reach the temple:
BTS Skytrain: Take the BTS to the Saphan Taksin Station (S6) on the Silom Line. From there, transfer to the Chao Phraya Express Boat at the Sathorn Pier (Central Pier). Take the boat to the Ratchawong Pier, which is the closest pier to Wat Traimit – it’ll be within walking distance.
MRT Subway: Take the MRT to Hua Lamphong Station (Blue Line). From Hua Lamphong Station, you can take a short tuk tuk ride or just walk for ~9 minutes to Wat Traimit.
Taxis & Grab: Taxis and Grab (a ride hailing app) are widely available in Bangkok. If you take a taxi, show the driver that you want to go to “วัดไตรมิตร” (Wat Traimit) to ensure clear communication.
Insider Tip: Taxis are supposed to be metered, so make sure the driver uses the meter or agrees on a fare before starting the journey.
Walking: If you’re staying nearby in the Chinatown area, you might consider walking to Wat Traimit. This can be a great way to soak in the local atmosphere and explore its vibrant streets.
After your visiting Wat Traimit, consider heading over to the Sun Wukong Shrine, which is just a short walk around the corner.
Unlike the plethora of Buddhist “wats” within Thailand, this immaculately painted shrine is rooted in Chinese mythology and is dedicated to the legendary Monkey King (孫悟空).
As a Taoist deity, the Monkey King is a revered symbol of defense against evil spirits and everlasting wellbeing. Here, you’ll see locals offering tea and fruit to the diety, while kneeling and praying amidst a cloud of incense.
The best time to visit Wat Traimit is during the morning hours, shortly after the temple opens for the day. This timing allows you to avoid the midday heat and larger crowds that tend to gather later in the day. Early mornings provide a peaceful atmosphere, offering you a chance to explore the temple grounds, including the awe-inspiring Golden Buddha, in a more relaxed setting.
Additionally, visiting on weekdays, especially from Tuesday to Thursday, can be advantageous as these days tend to be less crowded compared to weekends.
You are expected to dress modestly when entering the temple grounds. Below is a general guideline for the dress code at Wat Traimit:
Clothing: Wear clothing that covers your shoulders, arms, and knees. Sleeveless tops, tank tops, and short skirts or shorts are generally not appropriate for temple visits. Opt for lightweight, long-sleeved tops and bottoms that extend past your knees.
Footwear: Remove your shoes before entering temple buildings, as this is a customary practice in Thai culture. There are designated areas to leave your shoes.
Headgear: It’s respectful to remove hats, caps, or other headgear before entering temple buildings. This applies to both men and women.
Avoid Revealing Attire: Avoid clothing that reveals a lot of skin, including low-cut tops, sheer fabrics, and tight-fitting clothes.
Covering Tattoos: While tattoos are not an issue in most cases, it’s advisable to cover large or offensive tattoos while in temple grounds, as a sign of respect.
Children’s Attire: The dress code also applies to children. Make sure they are dressed modestly as well.
Adhering to the dress code is a way to show respect for the local culture and religious practices. By dressing appropriately, you contribute to maintaining the sanctity of the temple.
The Sukhothai style is a distinguished and influential art form that originated in the ancient Sukhothai Kingdom. This art style emerged during the 13th and 14th centuries, a period marked by the flourishing of Thai culture, religion, and artistic expression. It typically features:
Graceful and Serene Depiction: The Sukhothai style is characterized by its emphasis on grace, serenity, and inner calm. The artists of this style sought to convey the spiritual qualities of the Buddha through the aesthetics of their creations. The facial expressions of Buddha statues in the Sukhothai style exhibit a gentle and compassionate demeanor, reflecting the Buddha’s enlightenment and his role as a compassionate teacher.
Elongated Body: One of the distinct features of the Sukhothai style is the elongated body of the Buddha. This elongation is not intended to depict a realistic human form but rather to symbolize the Buddha’s transcendence beyond the physical world. The stretched proportions suggest the Buddha’s spiritual and moral elevation, illustrating his departure from worldly concerns.
Stylized Drapery: The drapery on Sukhothai-style Buddha statues is rendered with a graceful fluidity. The robes cascade in soft, flowing lines that evoke a sense of motion despite the statues being stationary. This dynamic portrayal symbolizes the Buddha’s teachings and his connection to the continuous cycle of existence.
Symbolic Mudras and Postures: The Sukhothai style often incorporates symbolic hand gestures (mudras) and postures (asanas) that convey specific meanings. For instance, the seated meditation posture, known as the Dhyana Mudra, signifies the Buddha’s deep concentration and inner contemplation.
The meditation posture, also referred to as the “Dhyana Mudra,” is a deeply meaningful and iconic depiction of the Buddha. The posture typically signifies the following:
Symbolism of the Gesture: The Dhyana Mudra is characterized by the placement of the hands in the lap, with the right hand resting atop the left hand, palms facing upwards. This simple yet profound hand gesture symbolizes meditation, inner reflection, and spiritual focus.
Inner Stillness & Tranquility: The depiction of the Buddha in the meditation posture reflects his mastery over the mind and emotions. It portrays the state of inner stillness and tranquility that can be achieved through meditation.
Unity of Body and Mind: The alignment of the hands in the Dhyana Mudra signifies the unity of body and mind in meditation. It underscores the interconnectedness of physical posture and mental focus, emphasizing that true meditation involves the engagement of both aspects.