Renowned for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife scene, top-notch hotels, delectable cuisine, and fascinating culture and history, Thailand ranks among the most visited countries in Southeast Asia and the world. Apart from its famous draws, Thailand has also iconic landmarks that exude architectural magnificence and reflect the nation’s rich heritage. In this article, let’s look at Thailand’s top historical architectural buildings, from past to recent, all showcasing the unique and jaw-dropping Thai ingenuity and design.
The Sanctuary of Truth
A famous attraction in the city of Pattaya, the Sanctuary of Truth is Thailand’s largest wood building, towering 344-feet (104 meters), made entirely out of teakwood. Not a palace nor a temple but seemingly an impressive combination of both, it’s actually a museum that exhibits superb Thai craftsmanship with its astonishing intricate carvings of creatures, scenes, people, elephants, and clothes elements from Thai mythology. In construction since 1981, it may be unfinished but there’s no doubt that it’s already among the most unique architectural wonders in the whole world.
Prasat Hin Phimai
Built during the 11th and 12th centuries, Prasat Hin Phimai is one of the prime examples of Khmer architecture in Thailand and in Asia. Brimmed with old-world elegance, the temple is similar in style to Cambodia’s iconic Angkor Wat. Its walls depict tales from the Mahabharata, Ramayana, and the life of Buddha, reminding that it’s a Buddhist temple erected by Hindu rulers. It’s a man-made wonder, enclosed by three concentric enclosures, signaling its significance during its golden age.
Also regarded as the Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun is one of Thailand’s most striking temples located right in its capital. This ornate riverside structure boasts beautiful pagodas that soar over the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Built during the Ayutthaya Period during the 17th century, it’s mainly influenced by Buddist architecture.
Its main feature is the prang (tower-like spire) of the grand pagoda. Standing over 70meters high, it’s beautifully adorned with colorful porcelain, and glass placed in a stunning intricate pattern. You may climb the central prang to view the details up close or to relish the great views of the surroundings.
Wat Phra Kaew
Situated at the Royal grounds in Bangkok, Wat Phra Kaew, or Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is widely deemed as Thailand’s most sacred Buddist site. Built starting in 1783, Wat Phra Kaew houses the Phra Kaew Morakot, the highly venerated Buddha image and considered as the country’s palladium, which was intricately sculpted from a single slab of jade.
Wat Rong Khun
Though relatively a newer structure compared to other marvels outlined in this list, Wat Rong Khun is an equally stunning work of architecture and one of the country’s top must-sees. Situated in Chiang Rai, the also so-called “White Temple” features a gleaming white, eye-catching fairy-tale-like look influenced by Buddhist architecture. It’s surrounded by several both traditional and contemporary sculptures, reflecting the artist’s innate talent
Other features include the cycle of rebirth bridge, an ordination hall, a meditation hall, and the Gate of Heaven. Aimed to be a lifetime project by Chalermchai Kositpipat, who also funded and restored the once-crumbling building, Wat Rong Khun is a work-in-progress that is set to bring more extravagance and delight its visitors.
The Grand Palace
Any Bangkok trip won’t be complete without visiting The Grand Palace. Built starting in 1782, it has become the royal residence for more than 150 years, as well as the home of the administrative seat of government and the royal court. Having undergone various periods of construction and renovations, the palace and the collection of other buildings in its compound walls feature different styles from Thailand’s dynastic architecture. Today, it serves as one of Thailand’s major tourist attractions and the spiritual core of the Kingdom.
Standing 810 feet (247 meters), the State Tower is one of the capital’s tallest buildings. It’s located in Silom Road, Bangkok’s famed business district. Built in 2001, the mixed-used building has 68 floors topped with a thirty-meter-high golden dome, part of the city’s easily recognizable sites. The popularity of the structure skyrocketed after it was used as a setting for a scene in the hit flick “The Hangover Part II” in 2011. A visit to this structure not only promises a sight of its stunning neo-classical balconies and modern aesthetics but also unforgettable sweeping views of Bangkok.
King Power Mahanakhon
A product of Thailand’s extraordinary high-tech architecture, King Power Mahanakhon is a spectacular skyscraper soaring at 1,031 feet (314.2 meters). It boasts an unconventional design, seemingly spiraling upwards with the fascinating play of cuboids in its construction and design. It’s an iconic, state-of-the-art architectural landmark that adds a unique sight to Bangkok’s eclectic skyline.
Indeed, Thailand has its fair share of architectural wonders, stemming from its rich history and dynamic evolution, each of which has its own story and offerings. So, just in case you’re planning to visit the Land of Smiles, you know what more to add to your travel itinerary for some architectural splendor.