Emerald Buddha Temple

While a trip to Thailand usually means spending time in scenic Phuket and lounging on the beaches in the south, no tour of the country would be complete without visiting some of its celebrated temples. Located in Bangkok, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is probably the country's most sacred shrine.

The Emerald Buddha Thailand is located on the grounds of the Grand Palace, the former residence of the kings of Siam. The imposing residence, which is surrounded by walls that are over a mile-long, is one of the most popular destinations when it comes to Thailand tourism. The main chapel is luxuriously opulent, featuring a three-tiered roof gilded in gleaming gold. Step inside the doors of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and you will find the statue itself—a two-foot sculpture carved from a single piece of dark, green jade—sitting high above an immense, gold alter.

Dating back to the fourteenth century, the emerald Buddha is a symbol of prosperity and authority. Over the years, the statue bounced back and forth between several territories, with leaders trying to obtain it, in order that they might experience good luck while they ruled. The statue reached its final resting place when King Rama I built the present Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

As is traditional in many Thailand temples, the Emerald Buddha Thailand statue is outfitted with seasonal robes that are changed three times a year for the summer, winter and rainy season. Regarded as a highly auspicious occasion, the ritual is performed by the king. Water is also sprinkled over the monks and audience in attendance as a symbol of good luck for the months to come.

Regarded as one of the most popular Thailand temples, make sure to take some time to admire the shrine itself. Its interior walls are gorgeously decorated with murals that depict the story of the Buddha's life. Start in the middle of the wall on your left as you enter the shrine and follow the story over the walls moving in a counter-clockwise fashion. The grounds of the Emerald Buddha Thailand are equally as beautiful, once you've entered the compound of the Grand Palace, make a point of admiring the inside walls which are a visually stunning display of 178 scenes that chronicle Ramakien—Thailand's national epic.

Although the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is an incredibly popular Thailand tourism site, it is also one of the most sacred of Thailand temples. As a result, a strict dress code is in place. Men must wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and must be wearing shoes with socks. A modest style is also required of women, ensuring that shoulders are not exposed and clothing fabrics are no see-through. A booth near the front gate can loan clothing to those who do not meet the strict standards.

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