Most Famous and Beautiful Buddhist Temples and Monasteries in The world to Visit in 2024

Last Updated: January 2, 2024

Most Famous and Beautiful Buddhist Temples and Monasteries in The world to Visit in 2024

Buddhist temples and monasteries are beautiful spaces designated away from the busy city life for monks and worshippers to pray. These spiritual places are peaceful and tranquil.

Buddhist monasteries are typically designed including a temple, stupa, vihara, shrine and a hall for monks to meditate. When you visit a monastery, the constant chants and prayers will make you relaxed.

Buddhist Monasteries and Temples in Nepal

Nepal is the only country in the world with such a long history with Siddhartha Gautam. Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha in Nepal, holds a sacred and deep significant connection to the followers of Buddhism.

At Lumbini, there are remains from 500-600 BC which still hold extreme cultural and historical value. Buddhism is widely spread in Nepal. As a result, there are countless buddhist temples and monasteries holding rich cultural value.

Boudhanath Stupa (Bouddha)

Boudhanath Stupa, widely known as Boudha is a UNESCO recognized world Heritage site located in the capital city (Kathmandu) of Nepal. Out of many origin stories of the stupa, one is of Tibetan heritage.

The rich history of the Boudhanath stupa dates back thousands of years back to when Buddhism first started spreading around the world.

Swayambhu (Monkey Temple)

buddhist temple monastery swayambhu

Resting atop beautiful mountains on the western part of Kathmandu, Swayambhu, also known as the monkey temple is filled with Buddhist symbolism like stupa, vajra and shrines.

The beautiful temple is visited by both Buddhists and Hindus as it is a meaningful site for both. The mythology behind Swayambhu is that it was once a Lotus plant that transformed into a hill and the Stupa.


lumbini buddhist temple

Just 30 minutes away from the Gautam Buddha Airport of Bhairahawa, Lumbini is one of the best places to visit for pilgrims of Buddhism.Buddha spent his childhood at Lumbini before he left his home as Prince Siddharth on his journey for enlightenment.

There are several remnants like the Ashoka pillar which are under protection. In addition to them, there are monasteries and temples constructed in the following years.

Kopan Monastery

Kopan has stood to be one of the most sought out monasteries in Nepal. Lying atop peacefully on a Northern hillside of Kathmandu, it gives a panoramic view of Kathmandu Valley.

If you are interested, there are various courses offered by Kopan monasteries on meditation and buddhism. You can visit the monastery as a private traveler or in a group.

White Monastery

Not too far away from the bustling city life of Kathmandu, nestled in the hills of Nagarjuna is the breathtaking White Monastery or what Nepali people so lovingly call, Seto Gumba.

Depicting Tibetan architecture and rich with Buddhist symbolism, white monastery is a work of beauty. Only 4.5 kilometers away from Swayambhu, White monastery is famous for hiking trails, peace for meditation and the beautiful sceneries.

Buddhist Monasteries and Temples in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has one of the most wide spread Buddhist populations in the world at above 70% of the population. As a result, there are beautiful Buddhist Monasteries and Temples that are spread throughout the country.

Throughout history many kings have preserved and built on the Buddhist heritage of the Sri Lankan island. Many of their rituals are similar to hindus and you’ll find that the buddhist and hindus share temples as well as customs.

Dambulla Cave Temple

Dambulla Cave Temple is an intricate connection of five beautiful cave temples filled with paintings and statues of Gautam Buddha along with other Hindu gods and Kings.

This world heritage site recognized by UNESCO is truly a work of art. This place is one of the best preserved remnants from Buddhist heritage with hundreds of statues in view.

Pidurangala Royal Cave Temple

Pidurangala Royal cave temple is situated on the top of a rock which takes about 15 minutes of walk. Make sure that you are wearing appropriate clothes when you are traveling up to the cave.

This temple was built by the king Kashapa during (473-495AC) as a monastery for the monks in the area as a place for them to reside and meditate.

Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth)

Sri Dalada Maligawa is another very sacred place for Buddhist travelers as it holds the remains of a tooth of Gautam Buddha. As a result, this place is also known as the temple of the tooth.

As a visitor you will be able to experience the daily rituals that are performed three times a day in the temple. If you decide to visit on a Wednesday you might also get some holy water believed to contain healing powers.

Mihintale Temple

Mihintale remains as the significant location for the beginning of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. This is where it is believed that Buddhist monks and king Devanampiyatissa first met and where they exchanged the doctrines of Buddhism.

This is a beautiful temple hosting a 40ft high stupa dating back to 1st century BC. It is a pilgrimage site for visitors who want to learn more about Buddhism and its history.

Rumassala Temple

Rumassala Temple is a beautiful temple tucked in the hills with a huge Stupa right beside the ocean. The history of Rumassala is also mentioned in the Ramayana.

If you are in Sri Lanka make sure to visit this beautiful temple with rich history and panoramic views. The Stupa, also called the Peace Pagoda in the center of the mountain, was built by the Japanese.

Buddhist Monasteries and Temples in Thailand

One of the best places to visit and experience Buddhism is Thailand as it is practiced by 95% of the population. It is believed that Gautam Buddha traveled to Thailand after Sri Lanka once getting enlightened.

Tourists will be able to see the prevalence of Buddhism in the architecture, temples, monasteries and practices of the Thai people in their everyday life.

Wat Sriboonruang

Among the countless beautiful temples in Thailand, Wat Sriboonruang remains one of the most visited ones for reasons such as hosting temple stays, meditation courses and seminars with a free entry.

The monastery is one of the best places to spend time learning about buddhism in Thailand. The temple is situated in between a community called Bansonquare which is at least 500 years old.

Wat Marp Jan

About 30 years back in the forest of Rayong in Thailand, the Abbot of Wat Nong Pah Phong decided to build a monastery for Buddhist monks to practice Dharma.

Nestled in the trees the beautiful scenery and buddhist chants sweeps the place to a peaceful realm. This place is open to visitors at certain timings during the day.

Wat Suan Mokkh

If you want to practice meditation, Wat Suan Mokkh is one buddhist temple that hosts the best opportunity for you to retreat and engage in meditative practices all over Thailand.

The meditation retreat is a 10-day program which you will have to register at the end of a month and start on the 1st of the month. This can be a wonderful experience to practice mindfulness at a Buddhist Temple.

Wat Pah Nanachat

Located in the Northeast of Thailand, Wat Pah Nanachat is about half a century old forest monastery which was built with the aim to spread the teachings of Buddha to English speaking people.

If you are worried about language, all of the teachings are done in English in this monastery. You can also stay there as a layguest and learn the daily routines and practices of the monks in the monastery.

Wat Mahathat (Ayutthaya)

Wat Mahathat was discovered in the 13th century in the central Ayutthaya of Thailand. It is also known as a temple of great relics as it was once destroyed by fire in 1767.

However, there are ruins and remains from the past that are still great spectacles. One of the best is the Buddha image entangled in the roots of Bodhi tree.

Buddhist Monasteries and Temples in Cambodia

As the official religion of Cambodia, about 98% of the population are Buddhist. Cambodia in history has been ruled by both hindu and buddhist kings in the past.

As a result of their influence, Hinduism and Buddhism have co-existed in the region. The fusion between these religions can be seen in the architecture, temple, practices and culture of the place.

Wat Ounalom

Wat Ounalom is one of the most important heritage sites in Cambodia consisting of 44 structures. It has been restored multiple times in the past which signifies its importance to the Cambodian people.

This place is of special significance as it is believed to house the eyebrow hair of Buddha as a Stupa. In Fact that is where the name Ounalom is derived from.

Angkor Wat

You might have occasionally stumbled upon this name as it is the largest religious monument existing in the whole world. This is a beautiful Hindu-Buddhist temple located in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The temple hosts millions of visitors every year who are eager to learn about the history of the temple and immerse themselves in the beautiful scenes.

Bayon Temple

Very similar to Angkor Wat is Bayon Temple which you should definitely not miss should you pay a visit to Cambodia. The temple was made in dedication to Buddha by King Jayavarma VII.

The temple hosts an array of carved stone faces of deities. As it is a popular destination, it is best if you visit during the afternoon to avoid huge crowds.

Prasat Kuh Nokor

Prasat Kuh Nokor is a Buddhist temple built around the 11th century highly symbolic of the lotus flower. If you have your own vehicle during your stay in Cambodia, this might be the perfect temple to visit.

This temple is located about 6km away from the main highway. During your visit you might encounter some school children as it shares space with a local village school.

Wat Phnom

Wat Phnom is one of the Buddhist temples in the capital city Phnom Penh of Cambodia. It is believed that the history of the temple dates back to a woman named Penh finding a tree with four statues of Buddha inside of it.

These statues were later given designated spaces on the hill which became a space for monks to visit and pray. To this day, this temple bustles with monks and visitors from all over the world.

Buddhist Monasteries and Temples in Indonesia

The history of Buddhism in Indonesia dates back to the start of travel through the silk route in the 1st century. There are fragments of relics all over Indonesia which depicts the tightly knit history of Buddhism to Indonesian culture.

There are exquisite buddhist temples and shrines all over Indonesia. Indonesia has visitors from all over the world that want to learn more about the history of Buddhist empires like Sirvijaya.

Borobudur Temple

Sitting on a hilltop as the world's biggest buddhist monument of the world, Borobudur Temple reflects the stonework and influence of Indian architecture during the 7th century Indonesia.

This Buddhist temple is located on the island of Java, surrounded by lush green trees in all directions. As the best preserved remains of Buddhist heritage, this site is protected by UNESCO.

Kalasan Temple

Full of buddhist symbols and themes, Kalasan Temple has a vihara dedicated for buddhist monks. The temple also known as Candi Kalibening consists of bodhisattva statues of Buddha.

The temple is just about 13 kms east, a 30 minutes drive from Yogyakarta also called Ayodhya, birthplace of Rama in Hindu scriptures.

Banyunibo Temple

This is a 9th century buddhist temple near the city of Yogyakarta which has an international Airport in Indonesia. The word Banyunibo comes from the word dripping water.

You will find the temple sitting in the middle of a paddy field. The architecture of the temple is beautiful with reference to lotus petals, buddha stupas and bodhisattvas.

Plaosan Temple

The Plaosan complex hosts two beautiful buddhist temples named Plaosan Lor and Plaosan Kidul located not too far away from Kalasan Temple.

Spanning about 2000 square meters, it houses 174 small buildings, 116 stupas and 58 shrines. You will find it reflecting the both hindu-buddhist influence in the architecture.

Muara Takus Temple

Looking at the stupa and lotus shaped architecture, you can easily know the buddhist origins of the Muara Takus Temple in Indonesia. Built in the 11th century, the temple has been periodically repaired and renovated overtime. The temple is surrounded by 1 meter high walls made of red stones bearing resemblance to Borobudur temple.

Famous Buddhist Temples and Monasteries in India

It is believed that Buddha had once traveled to one of the states in India to meditate where he attained enlightenment. Gautama Buddha once walked through some parts of India and his teachings are still reverberating long after.

The prevalence of Buddhism is high in the Northern region of India. Places like Darjeeling, Dehradun, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh are filled with Buddhist Monasteries and Temples.

Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya

As a pilgrim of Buddhism, the most important place to visit when you are in India is the Mahabodhi Temple. This is the place where Buddha attained enlightenment.

It was under a Bodhi tree inside the perimeter of the temple where he meditated. In this UNESCO recognized temple you will find engravings, statues, stupas and lotus ponds.

Thikse Monastery, Leh

Built on a hilltop during the 1430 AD, Thikse monastery is a magnificent place. The monastery also welcomes guests who want to stay at the monastery and learn about Buddhism.

Away from the noisy cities, your ears will be ringing with prayers and chants. You will carry positive experiences from the visit to one of the oldest monasteries of the region.

Mindrolling Monastery, Dehradun

This is the perfect place if you are wanting to take a break from your busy life and spend some time in the peaceful serenity of a monastery. While you are there, you can give Tibetan cuisine a try.

The mindrolling monastery at Dehradun is believed to be hosting one of the world's tallest stupa at over 60 meters tall in height. It is only 9 kms away from the Railway station from which you can take a cab.

Parinirvana Temple

This temple has to be the most important place for followers of Buddhism as it is believed that this is where Buddha left for his heavenly abode leaving his physical body.

The Parinirvana temple is located in a town called Kushinagar in the Uttar Pradesh state of India. The temple houses a 6 meter long statue of buddha in a lying position.

Sanchi Stupa

The Stupa is one of the oldest Buddhist monuments in India of which the construction started in the 3rd century BC. Right now the stupa is protected by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

The beautiful Sanchi stupa was built by the emperor Ashoka on top of relics of Buddha with gates in four different directions. You will be in awe looking at the work of art that connects the place with Buddhist heritage.

Conclusion: Popular Buddhist Temples and Monasteries

  Famous and Beautiful Buddhist Temples

Buddhist temples and monasteries are designed to create space for meditation and a peaceful way of life. The temples and monasteries will give you an opportunity to experience nature and connect with your own inner self.

By visiting and spending some time in these beautiful spaces, you will get to experience the lifestyle that is a break from the constant business of the city.

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