The majority of Thailand's 27,000 Buddhist temples are in the countryside.

Usually located on the village outskirts, walled compound enclosing a cluster of simple, steeply sloping, multi-roofed buildings. Although the temple's prime function is to aid aspirants in their search for Nirvana, it has traditionally served as the village hotel, a village news, employment and information agency, a school, hospital, dispensary or community center, and a recreation center, place of safe deposit and refuge for the mentally disturbed and the ages.

In large towns, the temple offers hostel accommodation for students from the outlying villages. In others, orphans and children from poor families are admitted for free board, lodging and basic education and, occasionally, juvenile delinquents are sent to live in monasteries to be reformed under the benevolent influence of elderly monks.