Southeast Asia is known as home to some of the most iconic temples. Most of them are for Buddhists and Hindus but tourists like you are welcome to visit and appreciate these beautiful structures. It’s a great way to learn about the history and culture of the city you’re in. The next time you take a vacation in Southeast Asia, make sure to include one of these in your itinerary.
Wat Pho (Bangkok, Thailand)
Wat Pho is where you will find the giant reclining Buddha lying down at 160 feet. It’s one of the most famous temples in Thailand where you will find a thousand more images of Buddha. This is also where the traditional Thai massage was founded. And yes, you can get yourself a traditional Thai massage after an exhausting walk around the temple grounds.
Wat Rong Khun (Chiang Rai, Thailand)
Just north of Thailand, in Chiang Rai, is where the famed White Temple, Wat Rong Khun is located. Its main draw is the all white structure which is supposed to symbolize Lord Buddha’s purity. This privately funded temple is also where Buddhist artists can have their artworks displayed for exhibition.
Sri Mariamman (Chinatown, Singapore)
This temple is unlike any other temple you’ve seen in Southeast Asia as its sculptures are bursting with colors, almost like they were cartoons. The meanings behind them are deeper though as they were dedicated to Durga, Ganesh, and Shiva of the Hindu religion.
Angkor Wat (Siem Reap, Cambodia)
Angkor Wat is a UNESCO-protected heritage site for good reason. It’s the largest and one of the oldest religious monuments in the world. To truly appreciate this place, you have to come early so you can avoid the hordes of tourist that come here. It originally was a Hindu temple but later in the 12th century, it was turned into a Buddhist temple.
The Temple of Heaven (Beijing, China)
Built in the early 1400s in the Temple of Heaven. The most notable structure is the palace with the round roof and three layers of eaves. This is where the emperors of the Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty would come to pray for good weather and harvest twice a year.
Borobudur Temple (Central Java, Indonesia)
Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world built in the 9th century. Within the grounds, you will find over 500 Buddha statues. What makes it even more spectacular are the volcanoes and green landscapes surrounding this temple.
Uluwatu Temple (Bali, Indonesia)
Bali is a must-go destination itself but make sure to drop by Uluwatu Temple which is uniquely set atop a very high cliff. It offers generous views of the Indian Ocean and a splendid sunset in the afternoon. If you’re lucky, you might also catch a Kecak dance performance and come across cheeky little monkeys in the area.
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (Chiang Mai, Thailand)
Another winning temple in Thailand’s North is Wat Phra located on top of the Doi Suthep Mountain. Here, you can witness the stunning temples, traditional dances, and orange-robed monks. And because you’re on the highest point of Chiang Mai, you get to enjoy panoramic views of the city.
Pura Besakih (Bali, Indonesia)
Located North West of Bali, is Pura Besakih. Its 86 temples are backdropped by the spectacular Mount Agung which is also a sacred mountain. You can take their hundred flight stairs going here but if not, feel free to explore the complex where you’ll see other religious structures.
Bagan Temples (Bagan, Myanmar)
Last and certainly not the least are the Bagan Temples in Myanmar which were built between the 11th and 13th century. There are several creative ways you can view all these temples at once. One of them is through a hot air balloon ride where you can get a breathtaking view of over 2,000 temples, pagodas, and monasteries. You can also rent a bike and ride along the area to see the temples.
Which of these temples are you planning to visit on your next trip to Southeast Asia? Share your thoughts in the comments below!