Wat Suthat


If you've noticed the towering red Giant Swing, you are close to one of the most ancient and most startling wats in Bangkok – Wat Suthat. You can easily combine a visit to Wat Suthat with an excursion to the Tempe of the Emerald Buddha, the Great Palace and Wat Pho. Wat Suthat is a royal temple of the so-called first grade, in other words one of the ten royal wats in Bangkok (there 23 of them in Thailand). Rama VIII was buried here in 1946.

The construction of the wat was started by King Rama I in 1807. The wat was expanded under Rama II, who personally took part in wat decoration – he helped carve the wooden doors of the ubosot. Its present day look originated during the reign of Rama III in 1847.

The ubosot houses the 14th century 8-meter-long Buddha statue called Phra Sri Sakyamuni, brought here by boat from Sukhotai province. The walls of the ubosot (the ordination hall) are decorated with frescoes depicting in details the 24 preceding incarnations of Buddha. The frescoes were made in accordance with the Western technique featuring perspective, which can only be observed in this wat. Along the outer wall Chinese stone sculptures with 28 pagodas are placed symbolizing the 28 Buddhas born to this word. In the courtyard that surrounds the ubosot there are 156 Buddha depictions.

The Giant Swing standing on two high red pillars is one of Bangkok's most famous symbols. It was moved to the wat only in the 1920s, while the Swing itself was constructed in 1784 and was restored only in 2007. Two years Thailand's best specialists worked hard to revive this historical and tourist site. It proved extremely complicate to erect such a construction from gilded teak tree wood, as it was necessary not only to copy the ancient construction, but to restore the handmade carvings for them to match the originals.

In the past the Swing was used during the annual Hindu ceremony of Shiva worshiping for the harvest to be successful. Brahmans had to tear a money-bag tied to a 25 meter high pillar with their teeth only. There were winners of course, but there were also some badly injured after falling from such a height. In the 1930s the ceremony was banned after several deaths and the Swing was dismantled leaving only its teak foundation.

Address: Bamrung Mueang Rd, Wat Rat Baphit, Khet Phra Nakhon
Opening hours: daily 8.30 am – 9 pm
How to reach: buses 12, 15, 42, 73, 96, 508
Coordinates: 13.75105, 100.501