Photogenic Temples in Southeast Asia

20 May Photogenic Temples in Southeast Asia

1 introBuddhism is a major religion in many Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand, Myanmar, and Singapore. This has resulted in the creation of thousands of temples all over the region. Here are some of the most photogenic ones, with a guide to the area around them.

1. Wat Pho (Bangkok, Thailand)

2 watpho

Opening Hours: Daily – 8AM–5PM (Massage available until 6PM)

Location: Maharat Road. Close to the river (about a half mile south of the Grand Palace), Old City (Rattanakosin)

Price Range: The entrance fee is 100 baht

Known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho is one of the largest temple complexes in Bangkok, and is a good location for those needing to unwind after the walk around the grounds – it is considered the leading school of traditional Thai massage in Thailand. Make sure to dress conservatively – your clothing should not expose your shoulders or skin above the knee.

A little known fact: in the past, Wat Pho was the first public university in Thailand, with its specialty subjects being religion, science and literature. Today, it has become a hub for traditional massage and medicine.

How to get there

Take the SkyTrain to Saphan Taksin Station S6. (Silom Line), Take Exit 2 and go to Chao Phraya River Express Boat Pier. Take a boat heading to Tien Pier (N.8) and walk straight to Wat Pho.

What (else) to do

  • Museum Siam

Address: Sanam Chai Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

Phone Number: +66 2 225 2777

Opening Hours: Monday – Closed | Tuesday to Sunday – 10AM–6PM

Museum Siam : Discovery Museum, Bangkok *** Local Caption *** มิวเซียมสยาม พิพิธภัณฑ์การเรียนรู้ จังหวัดกรุงเทพมหานคร

This museum has been said to be very “fun”, unlike most museums which have very formal settings. It is recommended to visit to learn more about the origins Thailand and its people.

  • The Grand Palace

Address: Na Phra Lan Rd, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, 10200, Thailand

Opening Hours: Daily – 8.30AM–3.30PM

4 grand palace

The Grand Palace is a large complex of buildings that has been the home of the Thai King, the Royal Court, and the administrative seat of government for more than 150 years. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) is also located here.

What to eat

  • The Deck by the River

Address: Maha Rat Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

Phone Number: +66 2 221 9158

Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday – 8AM–10PM | Friday to Sunday – 8AM–11PM

Situated on the Chao Praya, 200m away from Wat Pho, The Deck also offers a clear view of another majestic temple in Bangkok: Wat Arun. Food recommendations include the king river prawns, either deep-fried in garlic or served in a zesty pla kung salad, and the ravioli trio stuffed with goose liver, truffle and ricotta with tiger prawn.

  • Jin Chieng Seng by Inn a Day

Address: Tha Tian Alley, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, Thailand

Phone Number: +66 2 221 0577

Opening Hours: Daily – 11AM–10PM (Last order at 9PM)

Formerly a coconut sugar factory, this small local Thai restaurant serves up authentic and simple Thai fare such as Tom Yum Goong and Pad Thai.

  • Eat Sight Story

Address: 45/1 Maharaj, Bangkok, Thailand

Phone Number: +66 2 622 2163

Opening Hours: Daily – 9AM–11PM

Yet another riverside venue, this diner too offers an uninterrupted view of Wat Arun. It serves fusion dishes, such as the nuea kraprao krob – stir-fried beef tenderloin with basil and pepper – and pizza kraprao moo – pizza with stir-fried pork and basil topping. Enjoy your meal in an laidback setting with walls decorated using old wooden doors, and a collection of Asian and European trinkets alike.

Where to stay

  • Royal Princess Lan Luang Hotel ($$)

Address: 269 Lan Luang Road, Pomprab, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100, Thailand 269 Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10100, Thailand

Phone Number: +66 2 281 3088

6 royal princess larn luang

  • Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok ($$$)

Address: 28 Charoenkrung Road Soi 70, Bangkholame , Bangkok Riverside, Bangkok 10120, Thailand

Phone Number: +66 2 307 8888

7 chatrium

2. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum (Chinatown, Singapore)

Address: 288 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058840

Phone: +65 6220 0220

Opening Hours: Daily – 7AM-7PM

Relic Viewing: Daily –  9AM-6PM

8 buddha tooth

This temple is five stories high and purportedly houses the left canine tooth of the historical Buddha, which is encased inside a 420kg stupa made of solid gold. There are also other religious artefacts in the museum on the third floor, and a colossal prayer wheel in the rooftop garden, inside a pavilion that has 10000 Buddhas. Prepare yourself to be awed by the sheer amount of gold.

How to get there

Take the MRT to Chinatown (North-East Line) or Tanjong Pagar (East-West Line) Station and walk from there.

What (else) to do

 

  • Red Dot Design Museum

Address: 28 Maxwell Road, Ground Floor, Red Dot Traffic Building, Singapore 069120

Phone Number: +65 6327 8027

Opening Hours: Daily – 11AM-8PM

9 red dot

This museum showcases the best of local design, and every last Friday of the month, go MAAD with the Market of Artists and Designers, organized to encourage conversation between creative minds and to provide an outlet for local artists to sell their products.

  • The Pinnacle @ Duxton Skybridge

Address: 1 Cantonment Rd, Singapore 080001

Opening Hours: Daily – 9AM-9PM

Marvel at the city skyline from the 50th storey of this estate, which is surprisingly open to the public! However, only 200 people can visit the skybridge daily. It costs S$5 to go up.

9 skybridge at pinnacle

What to eat

  • Maxwell Food Centre

Address: 1 Kadayanallur St, 069184

When in Singapore, you must try the quintessential Singaporean dish – Hainanese chicken rice. Tian Tian Chicken Rice is one of the best stalls that sell this dish, but be ready to queue as there is often a long, snaking line.

10 tian tian 1

10 tian tian 2

  • Lolla

Address: 22 Ann Siang Rd, 069702

Phone Number: +65 6423 1228

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday – 12–2:30PM, 6–11PM | Sunday – Closed

Lolla serves small plates for sharing with friends, using only the finest ingredients and seasonal produce to create Mediterranean-inspired dishes. It also has a well-curated wine list to match the small plates ordered.

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Where to stay

 

  • Naumi Liora ($$$)

Address: 55 Keong Saik Rd, 089158

Phone Number: +65 6922 9000

12 naumi liora

  • PARKROYAL on Pickering ($$$$$)

Address: 3 Upper Pickering St, 058289

Phone Number: +65 6809 8888

13 parkroyal

3. Cebu Taoist Temple (Cebu, Philippines)

Address: Dona Modesta Singson Gaisano, Cebu City, 6015 Cebu, Philippines

Opening Hours: Daily – 9AM–5PM

14 cebu taoist temple

This temple is a popular tourist attraction in Cebu. Built in 1972 in the architectural style of typical Chinese Taoist temples, the complex is open to both worshippers and non-worshippers. The entrance is a replica of the Great Wall of China, and the complex has several majestic dragon sculptures.

How to get there

The temple is easily accessible by taxi, but there are no other means of public transportation to this area. Hence, it is important to let the driver know that you want it to be a round-trip. Otherwise, you can wait for another taxi outside the temple gate.

What (else) to do

 

  • Basilica del Santo Niño

Address: Santo Nino Chapel Ln, Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines

Phone Number: +254 720 420862

Cebu’s holiest church has been burnt down three times and is worth visiting if only to marvel at the resilience of this building. It is also the host to Cebu’s largest annual event, the Sinulog festival.

15 Basilica del Santo Niño

  • Kawasan Falls

Address: Matutinao, Badian, 6031 Cebu, Philippines

Phone Number: +63 916 446 4444

Amazing clear turquoise water will almost blind you with how dazzling it is at this lagoon paradise. The 15-minute trek there will be worth it when you reach. Locals sell coconuts along the way to quench your thirst.

16 kawasanfalls

What to eat

 

  • Anzani

Address: Bellini Champagne Lounge and Live music Bar, Panorama Heights,, Nivel Hills, Lahug, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu, Philippines

Phone Number: +63 32 232 7375

Opening Hours: Daily – 11:30AM–2:30PM, 5:30PM–12AM

17 anzani

Modern Western cuisine comes alive in this casual dining restaurant. Try the Truffle-infused Paté of Liver Mousse, accompanied by raspberry jelly with organic leaves on ciabatta toast and the Ostrich Carpaccio with crumbled goat cheese and roasted wild mushrooms.

  • Casa Verde (The Terraces)

Address: Stall 304, 3rd level, The Terraces, Ayala Center Cebu, Cebu City, Philippines, 6000

Phone Number: +63 32 233 8885

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday – 11AM-12AM

18 casa verde

Hearty American-style cuisine is served here. Their all-time bestsellers are Brian’s Ribs, the Tenderloin Tips and Eggs, and Peter’s Pork Steak.

Where to stay

 

  • Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

Address: Nivel Hills, Cebu Veterans Dr, Cebu City, 6000, Philippines

Phone Number: +63 32 253 1111

19 Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

  • Radisson Blu Cebu

Address: Sergio Osmeña Boulevard, 6000, Pope John Paul II Ave, Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines

Phone Number: +63 32 402 9900

20 Radisson Blu Cebu

4. Shwedagon Pagoda (Yangon, Myanmar)

 

Address: Dagon, Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)

Opening Hours: Daily – 4AM-10PM

21 shwedagon pagoda

Yet another ridiculously gold-adorned Buddhist temple, this Burmese Buddhist site of worship is decorated with 27 metric tons of gold leaf and thousands of diamonds and other precious stones. Freelance guides around the area can provide you with more information on this magnificent building. Before leaving the main terrace, be sure to drop by the small-scale museum that has other buddha statues and religious ornaments on display.

How to get there

The easiest way to get to the pagoda from your hotel is to take a taxi. It costs about K2500.

What (else) to do

 

  • Kandawgyi Lake

22 Kandawgyi Lake

One of two major lakes in Yangon, Kandawgyi is located on the east of the pagoda. It is in fact an artificial lake more similar to a reservoir, but the park surrounding it makes the area a nice place to explore.

  • Karakweik Palace

23 karakweik

The palace is actually a barge on the eastern shores of Kandawgyi Lake. The architecture is beautiful and they put on a show depicting royal culture in Myanmar.

What to eat

 

  • 999 Shan Noodle Shop

Address: 130 B 34th Street, between Se Pin Street and Anawrahta Road (downtown, near Sule Pagoda)

Edited with Afterlight

A little street restaurant with helpful staff and tasty, inexpensive food, including Shan noodle, rice and tofu dishes. It closes at 7pm.

  • The Golden Duck (Kan Taw Min)

Address: Kan Taw Mingalar Garden Compound, Shwedagon Pagoda Road; K1500 short taxi ride or 25 minute walk from downtown.

Phone Number: +95 1 240216

25 the golden duck

This is an excellent Chinese restaurant and one of several Golden Duck restaurants in Myanmar, with views of the Shwedagon Pagoda; crispy Peking duck is one of the favourites here.

Where to stay

 

  • Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon ($$$$)

Address: 40 Natmauk Road, Tamwe Township, Bahan, Yangon, Myanmar 11211

Lobby Lounge & Sunset Terrace

  • Excel Treasure Hotel ($$)

Address: No. 520, Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Shwe Gone Dine, Bahan Tsp., Bahan, Yangon, Myanmar

27 exceltreasurehotel

5. Borobudur (Java, Indonesia)

28 borobudur

This gigantic temple complex covering an area of 2,500 m2 dates back to the 8th and 9th centuries. It has three tiers: the base is pyramid-shaped with five concentric square terraces, the middle is a cone with three circular platforms, and the top has a monumental stupa.

How to get there

Borobudur is about one hour from Jogja or two hours from Semarang by car. A car with driver can be hired in Yogyakarta to take you to Borobudur.

You can also take public transport. Go by bus or minibus from Joga Bus terminal. There direct Bus (Micro Bus) serves daily every 10 minutes from Jogja to Borobudur.  The very well known Bus is named, Cemara Tunggal, cost Rp, 12.000,- (one way).  When you take this micro bus, please get down at Mendut temple. Afterwards, you can walk or take horse cart from to Pawon Temple. From Pawon temple is only 300 meters to Borobudur Temple.

What (else) to do

 

There is nothing much to do in Borobudur itself, but the nearby city of Yogyakarta has lots to offer.

  • Timang Beach

Address: Tepus, Gunung Kidul, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55881

29 timang beach

Frothy white waves crash into the corals and cliffs at this quiet beach. The main attraction is the cable cart, where adrenaline junkies can ride from the beach to Watu Panjang Island on this wooden cart via a pulley system made of fabric rope.

  • Goa Pindul

Address: Dusun Gelaran 1, Desa Bejiharjo, Karangmojo, Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta. Coordinates here

Phone: +62 812-2944-9004

Opening Hours: Daily – 7AM-5PM

30 goa pindul

Go cave tubing on the “lazy river” of Goa Pindul. The underwater caves allow you to enjoy a relaxing float through the waters while feasting your eyes on the beautiful rock formations inside the caves.

What to eat

 

  • Stupa Restaurant by Plataran

Address: Dusun Kretek, Karangrejo, Borobudur, Magelang 56553, Indonesia

Phone Number: +62 812 2615 8999

31 Stupa Restaurant by Plataran

This is a hotel restaurant that offers stunning scenery and Indonesian cuisine, with Borobudur as the backdrop while you dine. The dish to try is the Gurame Dua Rasa, which has fish and vegetables done in two different styles, a perfect dish for sharing.

  • Patio Restaurant by Plataran Borobudur

Address: Dusun Kretek, Karangrejo, Borobudur, Magelang 56553, Indonesia

Phone Number: +62 293 788888

32 Patio Restaurant by Plataran Borobudur

This restaurant is located in the same resort, but has a different essence from that of the Stupa Restaurant. It is a little more upmarket, with modern Continental cuisine such as bouillabaisse.

Where to stay

 

  • Saraswati Borobudur ($$)

Address: Jl. Balaputradewa, 10, 56553 Borobudur, Indonesia

33 saraswati

  • Villa Borobodur ($$$$$)

Address: Dusun Menoreh Villas, Dusun Pete RT003 RW 003, 56553 Borobudur, Indonesia

34 Villa Borobodur

6. Pura Tanah Lot (Bali, Indonesia)

35 tanah lot

The Tanah Lot temple is a pilgrimage temple, although now it is more of an exotic tourist destination due to high visitor traffic and commercialization. In fact, Borobudur is Indonesia’s most visited tourist attraction!

In order to enter the temple, visitors must first pass through a stretch of Balinese souvenir shops which cover each side of the path down to the sea. On the mainland clifftops, there are also restaurants for those who require them.

How to get there

It takes about 45 minutes by car from the southern tourist area of Kuta/Legian/Seminyak, and 30-40 minutes from Ubud to get to Tanah Lot.

What (else) to do

 

  • Ubud Monkey Forest

Address: Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Opening Hours: Daily – 8:30AM–6PM

36 ubud monkey forest

Catch a glimpse of wild monkeys at this nature reserve. Do be careful with your food and drinks though lest the monkeys steal them.

  • Ubud Art Market

Address: Jl. Raya Ubud No.35, Ubud, Kec. Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia

37 ubud art market

Known as ‘Pasar Seni Ubud’ to locals, the Ubud Art Market is a one-stop destination to fulfill all your souvenir shopping needs while in Bali. Gorgeous silk scarves, hand-woven bags, and other crafted products can be found here. Fun fact: Eat, Pray, Love was shot here.

 

What to eat

 

  • Mano Beach Side Café

Address: Seminyak Beach (opposite Pura Petitenget)

Opening Hours: Daily – 10AM-8PM

38 mano

This is a simple but stylish blue café by the beach, where you can enjoy the cool breeze and beautiful sunsets while enjoying cheap drinks, pasta, and sandwiches. 

  • Sate Bali

Address: Jl Laskmana 22A (opposite Samaya resort)

Phone Number: +62 361 736734

Opening Hours: Daily – 11AM-10PM

39 Sate Bali

Low-key but tastefully done open-air eatery with well presented Balinese favorites like sate lilit (spiced meat on lemon grass sticks), plenty of pork dishes and fresh fish.

Where to stay

 

  • Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort ($$$)

Address: Jalan Raya Tanah Lot, Banjar Beraban, Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia

Phone Number: +62 361 815900

41 Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort

  • The Oasis Lagoon ($$)

Address: Jl. Danau Tamblingan No.136A, Sanur, Denpasar Sel., Kota Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

Phone Number: +62 361 282264

42 The Oasis Lagoon

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