Stunning temples of SE Asia

Thean Hou Temple, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Sunset colors with the lanterns of Chinese new year celebrations

Opened in 1989, this six tiered temple is dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess, Mazu. The temple architecture unites elements of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism and represents a combination of modern architectural techniques and traditional design featuring striking pillars, stunning roofs, ornate carvings and intricate embellishments. 

Enjoying our last trip before Covid hit.

The front entrance of the temple features a multi-arched gateway with red pillars, the colour symbolic of prosperity and good fortune. It is especially a treat to visit during the annual Chinese new year celebrations during which time it is adorned and lit up with thousands of lanterns. 

Stay post sunset for the surreal lighting to come to life!

Getting there

Easiest way is to rent a car from KL and drive to the temple. Plenty of paid parking available nearby.


Sun – Fri: 8am – 2pm, 4pm – 10pm. 

Sat: 8am – 2pm only

Buddha Tooth Relic temple, Singapore

Located in the heart of the bustling Chinatown district of Singapore, this imposing temple is an oasis of calm amidst the hustle and bustle of Chinatown. Based on the architectural style of the Tang dynasty, this four storied temple has ornate interiors that showcase the Buddhist culture and religious artifacts.

The imposing facade

The Buddha Tooth Relic is housed in a giant stupa weighing a whopping 3,500 kilograms and made from over 300 kilograms of gold. Only monks are allowed into the relic chamber, but visitors are able to see the tooth relic from the public viewing area (no photographs allowed inside the chamber though). 


To get a birds eye view of the temple, go up the HDB right next to the temple (be courteous as these are residences). The stairwells on the upper floors give a great vantage point of the temple.

The old juxtaposed with the modern

Getting there

Best way to get there is by MRT. The temple is about a 5 min walk from the Chinatown MRT station (exits are clearly marked). If you want to avoid public transit it is easy to call a Grab/Gojek via the app and get dropped off near the temple.


Mon – Sun: 9am – 5pm

Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand

One of Bangkok’s most famous sights, Wat Arun is located in the Yai district on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The temple derives its name from the Hindu god Aruna, often personified as the radiations of the rising sun. 

city landscape
The imposing Wat Arun from across the Chao Phraya (Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on

One of the interesting ways to get here is by taking a ferry across the river. The famous Wat Pho (temple with the sleeping buddha) sits right across the river, and the two temples can be explored one after the other.

Admiring the details!

Come early in the morning if you want to explore the temple complex sans crowds. In the evenings the temple is lit up beautifully. Sitting on the banks of the Chao Phraya and watching the sun set and the temple lighting up is a great way to end an evening of sightseeing in Bangkok.

Another perspective

Getting there

If you’re coming here after visiting the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, the easiest is to take a quick boat ride across the Chao Phraya (~3 baht). If not, the easiest way is to take a Grab taxi via the app and get dropped directly at the entrance.


Mon – Sun: 8am – 6pm

Blue Temple Chiang Rai, Thailand

This beautiful, ornate temple is one of the hidden gems of the northern Thai town of Chiang Rai. The official name is Wat Rong Suea Ten, though once you reach you can immediately tell why it’s known the world over as the Blue temple. It’s a welcome change in a country where most temples are adorned in gold. 

blue temp1
Entrance guarded by the giant serpents!

The blue temple aesthetically combines elements of Thai architecture with modern design, and the result is a striking and unique temple with photo opportunities aplenty. The main temple is guarded by two huge intricate serpents. Inside the main hall, is a giant white buddha in the seated pose. The walls are covered in intricate carvings that depict the life of Buddha. The blue theme continues indoors and with the myriad of other colors, the final effect is a curious mix of psychedelic and calmness! 


Don’t miss the beautiful standing white buddha statue at the back of the temple. It provides a great contrast with the striking blue and gold hues of the rest of the structure.


Getting there

Chiang Rai doesn’t have any convenient public transport. We rented a car at the airport for our stay and that is the easiest way to get around. Otherwise taxis can be arranged by your hotel. The blue temple is about a 10-15 mins drive from the city center.


Mon – Sun: 7am – 8pm

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

Also known as the Great Dagon Pagoda or the Golden Pagoda, this 100m tall gilded pagoda dominates the Yangon skyline. It is the most sacred pagoda in the southern part of the country and is full of devotees anytime of the day you visit. 

Stunning in solid gold!

The crown of the pagoda is a literal jewel in the crown! It is studded with more than 5000 diamonds and 2000 rubies. The very top of the pagoda is adorned with a 76 carat diamond. The gold seen on the stupa is made of real gold plates, donated by the monarchy and the people of Myanmar.


The complex is a UNESCO world heritage site and deservedly so. The Shwedagon presents a very distinctive architectural form and purports by tradition to enshrine relics not only of Gautama Buddha, but also relics associated with three previous Buddhas, making it distinct from other Buddhist reliquary stupas.

Getting there

Best way to get there is take a taxi. We asked the hotel reception to call one for us. It’s also advisable to have the name of your hotel in the local language for the trip back home.


Mon – Sun: 4am – 10pm

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Bali, Indonesia

The list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the temple of Bali. While the island is home to temples in some of the most stunning locations, our favorite is the one on the shores of picturesque Lake Bratan. The temple is about 1.5 hour drive from Ubud, and should be on your itinerary, whether it’s your first visit to Bali or tenth! 

Truly one of the most breathtaking locations to build a temple!

Bali shrines are eponymous with these square structures with brick bases and multiple pagoda-style thatched roofs; the number of roofs reflects the status of the deity, and is always an odd number. It gives the illusion of floating on the lake if you time the tide well. With the misty mountains nearby, the whole effect can be somewhat mesmerizing.


Getting there

The temple is about 1.5 hours from Ubud and 2.5 hours from Seminyak. As a general rule of thumb, the best way to explore Bali is to hire a car with a local driver. That way you can leave the hassle of driving and directions to the experts and devote time to exploring the beautiful island.


Mon – Sun: 8am – 6pm (although I’ve heard you can get in much earlier as well)

All temple locations pinned on Google Maps

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