Visiting “wats” or temples will be one of the most common activity that you will do in Bangkok – or generally in Thailand. You have to visit one or two! Or three! I almost always go inside whenever I see one, to be honest. I think my camera has way too many pictures of temples than anything else.
Most Thai people identify as Buddhists and all over Thailand, you will see a lot of beautiful, elaborately designed temples and lots of Buddha images. Bangkok has many of these glittery and usually gold painted temples.
Most temples do not charge an entrance fee but the bigger ones like Wat Pho and Wat Arun do charge a small entrance fee. By the way, Wat Arun was under restoration when we visited it in early March 2015. Apparently, the restoration will go on for some time. You can still visit it (with a 50 baht entrance fee) but you can’t really climb on top of it like before the restoration.
Most temples are actually still used by Thai buddhists so you will see people with incense and flowers, bowing and praying to Buddha. Temples are very sacred places for Thai people so try to respect the rules of the temple.
Tourist as very welcome to enter the temples. When you see one, just remove your shoes and go in. You will usually see signs in English about the history of the temple, some rules of the temple, if you can take pictures, etc. Sometimes, you will have the opportunity to speak with a monk!
We were lucky to be in Bangkok during the Magha Puja Day which takes places on the full moon day of the third lunar month (March). There were celebrations in many temples in Bangkok.
We visited a couple during that day, Wat Sommanat and Wat Saket (Golden Mount) where we participated in some of the celebrations. We did some walking meditation, burnt some incense and offered some flowers to Buddha. The people were so nice to us, explaining to us what the holiday is about. Some even shared their food to us (there were free food in Wat Sommanat) and encouraged us to join the celebration even though we are non-Buddhists.
I hope you will enjoy visiting the temples in Bangkok. There are of course other things to see other than the temples but if you want to do something that is a big part of Thai culture, these Buddhists temples are everywhere and available for you to see. Foreigners and non-Buddhists are usually welcome to enter and even participate in the ceremonies, if any. They are also inexpensive tourist activity because they are free (most of them, at least)!