Wat Traimit and its Golden Buddha is one of the main attractions to see for those who want to get to know the main temples of Bangkok. Located in the heart of Bangkok’s famous Chinatown, Wat Traimit is home to one of the most revered and important Buddha statues in the entire city.
The Golden Buddha Temple is famous, more than for the temple’s architectural richness, for housing one of the world’s most massive (weighing over 5 tons) golden Buddha statues measuring 4 meters in height. It is known to have been made during the Sukhothai dynasty, in the 13th or 14th century, but it is not excluded that it is later. The head of the statue is egg-shaped, and it is this detail that has led experts to believe that it may date from the Sukhothai era and that it may have been partially produced in India. It is believed that the statue was moved from Sukhothai to Ayutthaya around 1403. Some scholars believe that the statue mentioned in the Ramkhamhaeng stele, lines 23 to 27, is indeed this one. In the first slab of the stele, reference is made to “a golden image of Buddha” “in the middle of Sukhothai” and this inscription allowed them to give a historical location to the precious representation.
The Burmese arrived around 1767 and burned down the kingdom of Ayutthaya, which was completely destroyed. It is not known who, the concerned citizens, the monks or the ruler, decided to save the magnificent Buddha from the hands of the enemy by covering it with a thick layer of plaster, then painting it and embellishing it with inlays and pieces of colored glass. A rather kitschy work, one might think, but it succeeded, since the Burmese did not even glance at it. So it remained in the ruins of Ayutthaya, without attracting attention. In 1801, the Thai king Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (Rama I), having designated Bangkok as the new capital of the kingdom and having ordered the construction of many temples in this city, ordered that all the old Buddha images in circulation, left in the custody of ruined temples throughout the country, be brought to Bangkok. Thus, the solid gold Buddha statue was brought “incognito” to the capital. At the time of King Rama III (1824-1851), still covered with stucco and stained glass, it was placed as the main image of the Buddha in the most important building of Wat Chotanaram temple. However, when this temple, located near Chinatown, fell into disrepair and was closed, the statue was moved to its present location at nearby Wat Traimit in 1935. At the time, Wat Traimit was only a minor pagoda (like hundreds of other Buddhist temples in Bangkok) and did not have a room large enough to house the statue. It was therefore decided to place it under a simple tin roof and it remained there for 20 years!
This was until 1954, when a new building was finally constructed in the temple to house the statue which was still under the metal sheets. On May 25, 1955, as it was being transported to its new home, during the last attempt to lift it from its pedestal, the ropes broke and the statue fell heavily to the ground. The workers had to put their hands to their hair in desperation: pieces of the plaster of the Buddha were clearly chipped. But when they approached to inspect the damage, they were surprised to see a layer of solid gold under the chipped plaster. Work was then halted, experts were called in to make an assessment and the gentle removal of the plaster covering the Buddha began. Photos were taken during the process, and anyone visiting the temple can see them, as well as pieces of the plaster. When all the plaster was removed, it was discovered that the golden statue was composed of nine parts that fit together equally.
How to get to Wat Traimit
The best way to get to Chinatown is to take a boat on the Chao Phraya River. For them, we will have to go down to the pier of Ratchawong and from there, walk to Chinatown. We can also walk (about 10 min) to Hua Lamphong station. Another option is to travel by cab, tuk tuk or using the Hop-On Hop Off bus tour.
The temple is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm every day, but the museum is closed on Mondays.
The entrance ticket is between 40 and 100 baht
661 Charoen Krung Rd, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100, Thailand