Thailand’s most sacred statue, the Emerald Buddha, resides at the grandiose Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), right next to the former residence of royalty, the Grand Palace. The murals depicting scenes from the Ramayana, a magical epic, are otherworldly. But so are the gilt-covered pagodas and Buddhist images in the country’s number-one tourist attraction.
What is also fascinating is how many everyday Thais come here to pray. Watching them observe age-old Buddhist rituals is a genuine slice of Thai life, served fresh every day.
The temple and palace, located in the historic Rattanakosin Island, are only a short walk from other marvels, such as Wat Pho (home of the Reclining Buddha and a traditional massage school), as well as the National Museum, the City Pillar and the National Gallery.
It is open daily from 8.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. except on special days. Visitors are advised that polite and modest dress is essential.