Thailand’s stunning natural features — such as beaches, parks and waterfalls — might get all the plaudits, but its man-made creations can be just as breathtaking. Here’s a list of the most beautiful temple statues the Land of Smiles has to offer.
The attack of Ayutthaya saw the Burmese army destroy many of the statues and temples in Ayutthaya and, with them, their secrets. Whilst Buddha statues had their heads removed and taken, one remained — and became one of the most famous in the land. The head of the Buddha growing in the roots of a banyan tree is a haunting sight and proves a popular attraction for both local and foreign tourists who flock to the once-great city.
Wat Phra Kaew may be Thailand’s most famous temple, but its neighbour Wat Pho houses one of the most beautiful likenesses of the Buddha in the country. At 46 meters long, and golden, it’s an impressive sight. It represents the Buddha about to enter parinirvana, or the nirvana after death.
Krabi’s Tiger Cave Temple features many beautiful statues, but its huge golden Buddha is easily the most beautiful. Located at the top of a mountain that requires 1,247 steps to reach the summit, the beauty of the statue is matched by the beauty in the grueling ascent of the mountains and the views from the top, which the Buddha enjoys every day.
Figures of the Buddhist and Hindu faiths, Yak are giant creatures who, despite their intimidating demeanor, are usually benevolent. The most beautiful of these statues are found at Bangkok’s Grand Palace, where they stand guard by the entrance, sword in hand, to protect it from evil spirits, whilst replicas can be found at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
A statue of the Buddha crafted from one piece of jade in the 14th century, the Emerald Buddha is one of the most famous and revered statues in the country. Housed in an ornate hall, it’s a beautiful statue in an equally beautiful setting, and its clothing is changed only by the King himself throughout the year.
Located on the scenic island of Koh Samui, the impressive statue of Guanyin is one of the most striking and memorable in the land. A goddess of compassion and mercy, this Chinese-style statue features no less than 18 arms and sees her foot resting on the crook of a dragon. Set out on a lake, it’s well-worth paying a visit if you’re ever in Samui.
Chaing Rai’s stunning white Wat Rong Khun temple is matched only in beauty by the intricate, ornately carved statues that can be found throughout its grounds. Both figures from the Buddhist and Hindu faiths can be found in statue form here, from the fearsome Naga to the God of Death and Rahu, not to mention the eerie sea of souls, with its hands stretching desperately up toward the sky.
A small shrine located in Bangkok, it houses a statue of Phra Phrom, the Thai representation of the Hinuda god Brahma. Golden-coloured and featuring Brahma in his three-headed form, the statue is a thing of beauty amidst a backdrop of brutalist architecture. The tempe is a popular spot for Thai dancers to perform. In 2015, the shrine was the site of a terror attack, and some worshipers tragically lost their lives.
Despite being a Hindu god, Ganesh — or known in Thailand as Phra Phikanet — is still widely respected and worshipped by some as the god of fortune and success. Chachoengsao’s Wat Saman Rattanaram features a large, reclining Ganesh in striking colours, whilst two other giant statues of the elephant-headed god can also be found in the province.
At 45 meters tall and covered in white marble, Phuket’s Big Buddha is amongst the most beautiful and the biggest in the country. Sitting pretty at the top of a hill, those who make the climb in the sun are not only greeted with a awesome statue, but with a stunning view out onto Chalong Bay. Visible all over southern Phuket, it’s just as impressive from up close as it is from afar.
Home to the largest Buddha statue in Thailand and ninth-largest statue in the world, Wat Muang’s giant Buddha in Ang Thong province is both impressive as a work of art and as a feat of engineering. At 92 meters tall and a bright gold colour, they don’t come much bigger or more impressive than this, and the temple is also home to impressive statues of Naga and creepy statues of humans in distress in Buddhist hell.