For more than 200 years, what appeared to be an ordinary plaster Buddha statue sat unprotected at the center of Wat Traimit Withayaram Worawihan. Then in 1955, when a crew of workers attempted to move it, they accidentally dropped it—only to reveal the far more valuable treasure contained within: an 83 percent solid gold Buddha statue weighing 5.5 tonnes.
With its slim waist and elegant proportions, the Golden Buddha, officially titled Phra Phuttha Maha Suwanna Patimakon, is a fine example of Sukhothai art. Archeologists believe that it was originally cast in the 13th century. Unfortunately, the discovery of the Golden Buddha led to a short-lived craze for chipping the stucco off other Buddhas, to no avail.
Today, the statue is currently Thailand’s most prized holy relics, valued at over $250 million. Curiously, the statue actually consists of nine separate parts, which can be disassembled for transportation using a key hidden at the base of the statue.
Know Before You Go
There are two entry tickets for non-Thai nationals, one to see the Buddha and another that allows access to the Buddha and the Yaowarat Chinatown Heritage Center.