Pattaya City, located roughly 150km southeast of Bangkok, is a vibrant coastal city that has long attracted tourists from across the globe. While it’s known mainly for its nightlife, beaches, and culinary delights, the city has plenty to offer when it comes to culture too.
Although often overlooked in favor of the temples scattered across the country’s capital, Pattaya is home to some of the best (and most underrated!) temples in Thailand. What’s more, many of them are located just a stone’s throw away from the clear blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand.
The combination of tranquil hillside temples and rejuvenating sea air is one that never fails to make an impression on visitors, and Pattaya is a great place to learn about meditation too.
So, if you’re keen to explore some of Thailand’s famous temples, but you want to trade in the smog of Bangkok for a fresh ocean breeze, then you’re in the right place – here are the top temples for you to check out in Pattaya.
Thailand has the second largest Buddhist population in the world (after China), and it’s hard to think of Thai temples without an image of Buddha springing to mind. Wat Phra Yai, also known as the Big Buddha Temple, is one of Pattaya’s most famous temples, and it features an enormous golden statue of Buddha himself.
To view the smiling statue up close, take a stroll along an incredibly scenic staircase nestled in the trees. You’ll find the 18m tall statue waiting for you, flanked by several smaller versions. Mind out for other tourists as you wander around (unfortunately, this is one of the busiest temples around), as well as locals who you’ll find performing daily rituals and praying at the foot of the statue.
The temple is located at the top of Pra Tumnak hill, so you’ll get some great views of the city and the bay down below while you’re up there. It’s free to enter, but donations are encouraged and are often received with a smile and a blessing from a monk.
If the thought of trekking up a steep hill to visit a temple is putting you off visiting some of Pattaya’s temples, then you’re in luck, the Wat Chai Mongkron (also known as Wat Chai Mongkol) temple is located in the heart of Pattaya itself. Specifically, it’s found at the intersection of Second Road and South Pattaya Road.
While it might not be quite as visually spectacular as some of Pattaya’s other temples, this temple has an authentic feel and is home to many practicing monks. In fact, the 10 acres of land are home not only to the temple itself but also to a school, living quarters for the monks, and even a crematorium.
If you feel like getting involved, you can donate snacks or meals to the monks, and ask for blessings if you’re in need of some good fortune.
The temple was originally built back in the 1930s, but it has slowly been expanded over time. One of the key Buddha figures found at the temple dates back to 350 years, yet despite its history, the temple was only declared a royal temple as recently as 2013.
There are altars, statues, and even a cute little pond to explore, and it’s entirely free to soak up the sights here. Sure, it might not be the most spectacular temple in Pattaya, but it’s definitely worth the short trip from your hotel to check out a fully functional, authentic Buddhist temple.
We’re moving on now to one of Pattaya’s most iconic buildings, the Sanctuary of Truth. Strictly speaking, this building isn’t a temple – it was actually commissioned by a Thai businessman – but it resembles one nonetheless and is an incredible example of Thai architecture, featuring elements of not just temples but also palaces and castles.
In true Ayutthaya style, the temple features intricate carvings of people and animals, and the multi-tiered, multi-spired roof (the largest of which is over 100 meters tall) adds a unique touch to the landscape. Unlike many other Thai temples, you’ll find many Hindu gods depicted in the intricate carvings as well as astonishing astrological images and Buddhist sculptures.
It’s also located right on the seashore, making it one of the most picturesque temples in the whole of Thailand.
Construction of the all-wood building began back in 1981 and continues to this day – visitors must wear a hard hat to explore the interior and the building isn’t likely to be completed until 2025 at the earliest. Although wood may seem like an odd choice for such a construction, it certainly adds a unique rustic charm to the entire building.
The main wood used for the building work is takien wood, which is known for its exceptional durability, even without treatment.
Although the ongoing construction may seem like a lot of work, it’s definitely worth it for the chance to wander around this masterpiece of a building. The cost of your admission fee (500 baht) will contribute to the never-ending renovations of the building.
If you’re after a temple with a view, then look no further than Wat Khao Phra Bat. This temple is situated on the luscious Khao Phra Bat hill (hence the name) and offers killer views of the bustling city and the adjacent shores below. In fact, many people head up here just for the view and are delighted when the friendly-looking temple comes into view.
If you want to make a full trip out of it, then we recommend heading up there late afternoon for a leisurely stroll, a casual temple exploration, and a little picnic on the hillside.
The temple itself has a quaint charm, with delicate white, red, and gold decorations and carvings found throughout. There are heaps of golden Buddha statues dotted around the place, and the tranquil vibe sets a great tone for meditation. Plus, you’ll get the chance to walk in Buddha’s footsteps – well, almost, there’s a replica of the footprint of Buddha himself.
Seen so many temples recently you’re starting to forget which ones were which? Well, why not shake things up a bit with a visit to Wang Sam Siem? This unique temple showcases the Chinese take on Buddhism and features different architecture to the temples we’ve mentioned so far.
There are also far fewer depictions of Buddha himself, and instead, you’ll find statues of various characters from Chinese history and folklore.
We also love the educational feel of this temple – there are plenty of signs that teach visitors about key historical figures and events in Chinese history. Plus, the temple is located right in front of Wat Phra Yai (the Big Buddha Temple), which makes a trip up Pra Tumnak hill twice as worthwhile!
Does an image of Buddha printed onto a giant limestone cliff count as a temple? Possibly not, but a visit to Khao Chi Chan (also known as Buddha Mountain) is a must-see for anyone on a culture trip around Pattaya.
The image was engraved onto the mountain via a guided laser technique in 1996 and later inlaid with gold leaf. The act was designed to protect the mountain itself and stop its stone from being used for construction as well as to commemorate the 50th birthday of Thai Monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Although the mountain is a little out of town (you’ll have to grab a taxi or tuk-tuk), it’s a great place to spend the day away from the busy city streets. The surrounding area is particularly peaceful, and you’ll most likely spot a few monkeys while you’re there. If you’re keen to make a full day of it, then why not check out the nearby Wat Yannasangwararam and Viharn Sien (more on them below)?
Why visit just one temple when you could visit a whole temple complex? The Wat Yannasangwararam (or Wat Yan for short) complex covers 145 acres of land and is home to an astonishing range of buildings for you to explore.
The complex takes its name from the main temple itself, Wat Yannasangwararam, and was constructed in 1976 in honor of the Thai Royal Family. In line with its fairly recent construction, the design of the temple differs somewhat from those of more traditional temples found elsewhere in Thailand.
But that’s not all you’ll find in the complex – there are heaps of other constructions featuring a range of architectural styles as well as lovely gardens and a calming lake (with fish you can feed) for you to wander around.
The complex is located just outside Pattaya, so you’ll have to catch a ride in a taxi or songthaew, and the trip will take just over half an hour. There’s plenty of parking on-site, plus places to grab some refreshments, and there are even daily meditation classes.
With so much to explore, a trip here can easily take up a whole morning or afternoon, so it’s definitely worth the trip out f town. And if you’re keen to cut down on your travel times, why not tie in a trip to the nearby Buddha Mountain or Viharn Sien while you’re in the area.
The most notable structure you’ll see at Viharn Sien is a Chinese temple and museum that’s used for worship and is packed to the brim with old-school Chinese trinkets. Relics are spread out across the three stories and include ancient pottery, bronze statues, an incredible array of artwork, and various images of Buddha from times gone by.
The building itself is an incredible structure featuring lavish adornments both inside and out, and there’s also a shrine on the exterior where many visitors pray. But whether you’re religious or not, you’re bound to be blown away by the vast collection of Chinese antiques housed in the museum, second only to museums in China itself.
And don’t worry if you need some fresh air, surrounding the temple/museum are various pavilions, statues, flowers, courtyard, and monuments for you to explore. The site is best reached via taxi or songthaew from central Pattaya and, if you want to make a full day of it, then check out the nearby Buddha Mountain or Wat Yannasangwararam on your way to or from home.
If you fancy wandering around a temple free from tourists and hassle, then Wat Nong Yai might be right up your street. Located close to the Mini Siam park attraction, this temple really is a hidden gem.
It might not be as large as some of the other temples that are firmly rooted on the tourist map, but it’s charming in its own way and offers a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
As well as a giant Buddha statue, there’s a prayer hall, belfry, and an impressive all-white sanctum with some picturesque carvings on the exterior. The temple may appear very well maintained, but it took some serious renovations to get it looking this good!
Wat Nong Ao is another temple that’s a little on the small side, but what it lacks in size it certainly makes up for with personality – its flashy gold exterior is particularly mesmerizing! You’ll also find various statues dotted around the place, as well as a shrine, and there won’t be many tourists in your way either.
Located within walking distance of central Pattaya, you may as well swing by this temple en route to your other adventures.
So, there you have it, our list of the best temples in Pattaya. Featuring temples-turned museums, Chinese, Hindu, and Buddhist influences, and even structures made entirely out of wood… there really is quite a range! Plus, a trip to Pattaya gives you the chance to explore these cultural delights with the mighty Gulf of Thailand as a backdrop – what more could you ask for when temple touring?!
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!