Na Phra Lan Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, Thailand
02 224 3290
Call it the holy of the holies. This 45-centimeter tall statue of the sitting Buddha is carved from jasper and is only "emerald" in color. Nevertheless its importance is such that only the King of Thailand may go near it and he does so three times a year to change its golden clothing. The temple is right next to the Grand Palace and both are part of a sprawling 1.5 square kilometer collection of buildings. Murals adorn the temple's walls with scenes from the Ramakian
, what in India would be the Ramayana
. Visitors must cover up -- no bare shoulders or legs -- and some rental clothing is available for anyone who didn't plan ahead. Audio tours can be rented.