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How Many Temples Does Thailand Have?

Everyone knows that Thailand has a lot of temples, but just how many exactly? The number of temples in Thailand is tracked by the Buddhist Monastery Department (กองพุทธศาสนสถาน). According to the department’s latest figures, there is currently 43,005 temples in Thailand (only five of which do not have Thai monks living on the premises).

Of the 43,000 Thai temples with resident monks: 38,595 temples belong to the Maha Nikaya (มหานิกาย) monastic order; 4,366 are Dhammayut Nikaya (ธรรมยุตนิกาย) temples; 16 are Chinese Nikaya (จีนนิกาย) temples; 23 Anam Nikaya (อนัมนิกาย) temples. Maha Nikaya and Dhammayut Nikaya have been the two principal monastic orders in Thailand for about 160 years.

The Maha Nikaya (meaning The Great Order) is the older and more widespread of the two monastic fraternities. The Dhammayut Nikaya was established by King Mongkut of Thailand in the 1830s. This “reformist” monastic order was established with a heavier emphasis on meditation, discipline, and a simple monastic lifestyle (i.e. no elaborate ceremonies). Many of the famous Thai forest monks, such as Ajahn Man Phurithatto, belonged to the Dhammayut order.

The 16 Chinese temples in Thailand follow Chinese Buddhist practices, while the 23 Anam Nikaya temples are Vietnamese Buddhist temples which were founded long ago by Vietnamese immigrants.

Thailand’s temples can also be broken down in additional categories. There are 310 royal temples (วัดพระอารามหลวง), including 247 Maha Nikaya and 63 Dhammayut temples; and 42,690 public temples (วัดราษฎร์), including 38,348 Maha Nikaya and 4,303 Dhammayut temples. 16,769 of these public temples have not received a Royal sanction, and many of them are designated as a Samnak Song (สำนักสงฆ์), which often is translated as “monastery” or “priest’s camp”.

 

Thai Statue of Ajahn Mun
A statue of the famous forest monk Ajahn Man Phurithatto, a member of the Dhammayut Nikaya monastic order.

What region of Thailand has the most temples?

Not surprisingly, the Northeast of Thailand has the most temples in the Kingdom. In fact it has more temples than all other regions of Thailand combined! Known as Isaan, the Northeast is home to 21,546 temples, over 1,700 of which are in Sakon Nakhon province, which some Buddhists view as Thailand’s spiritual Mecca.

Meanwhile, the Central region of Thailand has 8,887 temples, the Northern region 5,631 temples, the Southern region 2,647 temples, the Eastern region 2,430 temples, and the Western region 1,860 temples. Now, that you’ve learned how many Thai temples there are, be sure to check out our post on why Thailand has so many temples.