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Buddhist temple..JPG Wat Peapahd.Battambang.2009.jpg
Cambodian padgodas: Left: Wat Ko, Right: Wat Peapat

A wat is a monastery temple in Thailand, Cambodia, or Laos. The word wat (Thai: วัด (Pronunciation), Khmer: វត្ត, sometimes rendered vat when referring to Laos) means "school".


Front of Wat Mahathat in Luang Prabang, Laos

Strictly speaking a wat is a Buddhist sacred precinct with monks' quarters, the temple proper, an edifice housing a large image of Buddha, and a structure for lessons. A Buddhist site without a minimum of three resident monks cannot correctly be described as a wat, although the term is frequently used more loosely, even for ruins of ancient temples. (As a transitive or intransitive verb, wat means to measure, to take measurements; compare templum, from which temple derives, having the same root as template.)

In Cambodia, a wat is used to refer to all kinds of places of worship. Technically, wat generally refers to a Buddhist place of worship, but the technical term is វត្តពុទ្ធសាសនា (wat pootasasna). A Christian church can be referred as វិហារយេស៊ូ(vihear yeasu). Angkor Wat អង្គរវត្ត means city of temples.

In everyday language in Thailand, a wat is any place of worship except a mosque (Thai สุเหร่า - su-rao; or มัสยิด - Thai rendering of masjid; a mosque may also be described as โบสถ์ของอิสลาม - bot khong Is-a-lam). Thus wat cheen is a Chinese temple (either Buddhist or Taoist), wat khaek is a Hindu temple, and wat kris or wat krit or wat farang is a Christian church, though Thai โบสถ์ (โบด bot) may be used descriptively as with mosque.


According to Thai law, the Thai Buddhist temples are categorised into two types:

The facade to the Phra Viharn Luang (meeting hall) at Wat Suthat, one of the most important Buddhist temples in Bangkok, Thailand
  • Wat (Thai: วัด; RTGS: Wat) are the temples having been endorsed by the State and having been granted the Wisungkhamasima (วิสุงคามสีมา), or land for establishment of central hall, by the King. These templed are divided into:[1]
    • Royal temples (พระอารามหลวง; Phra Aram Luang), established or patronised by the King or his family members.
    • Private temples (วัดราษฎร์; Wat Rat), established by the private citizens. Despite the term "private", the private temples are opened to the public and are the sites of public religious activities also.
  • Samnak Song (Thai: สำนักสงฆ์; RTGS: Samnak Song) are the temples without state endorsement and the Wisungkhamasima.


A typical Buddhist wat consists of the following buildings:

  • chaidei or chedi (Khmer ចេតិយ), (Thai เจดีย์) (from Sanskrit: chaitya, temple) - usually conical or bell-shaped buildings, often containing relics of Buddha
  • vihear (Khmer វិហារ),wihan (Thai วิหาร) from Sanskrit: vihara) - a meeting and prayer room
  • mondop (Thai มณฑป) (from Sanskrit: Mandapa) - a usually open, square building with four arches and a pyramidal roof, used to worship religious texts or objects
  • sala (Khmer សាលា), (Thai ศาลา) (from Sanskrit: Shala - School, from an earlier meaning of shelter) - a pavilion for relaxation or miscellaneous activities
  • bot โบสถ์ or ubosoth อุโบสถ์ (from Pali uposatha) - the holiest prayer room, also called the "ordination hall" as it is where new monks take their vows. Architecturally it is similar to the vihara; the main differences are the eight cornerstones placed around the bot to ward off evil. The bot is usually more decorated than the viharn.
  • bibiloteca (Thai หอไตร) - Tripitaka library where Buddhist scriptures are kept
  • drum tower (Thai หอกลอง)
  • bell tower (Thai หอระฆัง)
  • multipurpose hall (Thai: ศาลาการเปรียญ, study hall) is a building in a wat. In the past this hall was only for monks to study in, as parian is a Pali word meaning 'educated monk' or 'monk student'.

The living quarters of the monks, including the กุฏิ (Thai กุติ kuti or กุด kut - monk cells) are separated from the sacred buildings.

The roofs of Thai temples are often adorned with chofahs.


Some well-known wats include:







See also[edit]