On my recent trip to Thailand, our tour with Gate 1 included trips to several temples (or wats) including Wat Pho, (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), Chai Wattanaram Temple, Royal Summer Palace and Wat Mahathat (Temple of the Great Relic). Much like Mosques, Synagogues and Churches, there are do’s and don’t’s associated with ones appearance and behavior. If you plan on visiting some of the temples on your visit to Thailand, here are 5 tips to be mindful of.
Get there Early
The temples get very crowded throughout the day. As mentioned, the country is mourning the death of king Bhumibol Adulyadej, so people go to the temples to pay their respects. It is also a time where the people bring food and gifts for the monks.
Get a Guide
It’s very helpful to get a guide when visiting the temples in Thailand. On our visit to Wat Pho, we learned:
- Prangs and stupas have former Siamese kings, revered monks or disciple’s cremated ashes enshrined in them.
- Some stupas have Buddhist and Hindu motifs
- The doorways to the temples are statues of Chinese warriors, philosophers and Marco Polo
It is extremely important to be modest when visiting the temples in Thailand. Our tour guide suggested we avoid wearing “Bow Wow” clothing (when you bow, the people say ‘wow’). Stay away from clothes that don’t cover your knees, shoulders and midsection. Hats aren’t permitted either. Depending on their discretion, you may need to rent clothing. When visiting the Royal Summer Palace, I wore a maxi dress, but they determined it was ‘too sexy’, so I rented a wrap skirt and top for 500 Thai Baht.
Wear Inexpensive Footwear
When visiting temples in Thailand, there are a number of times where you need to take your shoes off. Shoes aren’t monitored by security so wear inexpensive shoes or sandals in case of theft.
Part of traveling in general includes being respectful of people’s way of life. Even if you don’t agree with their religious practices, it’s disrespectful to disrupt people’s prayers and/or sacrifices. Here are some other tips:
- Be respectful to the monks in and out of the temples (as a woman you are never to touch a monk)
- You are not supposed to be higher than Buddha; kneel or lower yourself when taking pictures
- Don’t touch any of the statues in the worship area
- These temples are tourist attractions, but people also worship there
Have you visited any temples or “holy destinations” during your travels?