Set on the side of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok is Wat Pho, also known as Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It is one of the oldest temples with the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand and maintains the title as the country’s earlier center for public education and religion.
Wat Pho is also famous for its traditional Thai massage because the temple is a national headquarters for the teaching and preservation of traditional Thai medicine, including Thai massage, a mandate legislated by Rama III.
Due to the popularity of nearby Grand Palace, it makes Wat Pho less touristy and is, therefore, a bit more room to relax and wander through. Wat Pho is an easy fifteen-minute walk from the Grand Palace and has a variety of offers to any kind of visitors.
The temple’s architecture is based around Ayutthaya-style while many structures in the temple grounds were brought from the salvaged remains of the temple town of Ayutthaya. There are large Chinese statues at the 15 entrances as they once used as ballast aboard Chinese junk boats. You can find these types of statues in Wat Suthat as well.
Much of the temple’s architecture is Ayutthaya-style. Many other structures in the temple grounds were brought from the salvaged remains of the temple town of Ayutthaya, but not all of them. The large Chinese statues around the 16 entrances, for example, were once used as well.
One of the most interesting things on the temple grounds is the Reclining Buddha, it was built in 1848. Since then, it has been the largest Buddha in Thailand. With the golden structures, Buddha images, marble interiors, the temple is home to a Bodhi tree. The ancient sacred fig tree that is believed to have been grown from part of the tree under which Buddha became enlightened.
When you enter, most of the building will require you to take your shoes off, and when you are in the building where the Reclining Buddha is housed you will be offered a bowl of coins to purchase. People believe it is considered good luck if you purchase the bowl of coins and drop them in the 108 bronze bowls which line the length of the building.
Once you have been exposed to the buildings and learned the history of the temple, there are several other attractions around Wat Pho that you should experience including
Four chapels – The displays of 394 gilded Buddha images.
Murals – Complex detailed murals that cover the walkways around Wat Pho. They are so detailed and complex and you probably don’t understand all the imagery. But you can still appreciate the beauty of the artwork.
After a long walk around the temple, there is nothing better than a relaxing foot, head, and shoulder massage. If you have not tried Thai massage, this is the right place and the right time for you to experience it.
Things you should know before visiting the Wat Pho:
Be respectful. Wat Pho is a functioning Thai Buddhist temple, and as such the management insists that visitors dress in a respectful manner. This means that men are encouraged to wear long pants and short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirts (no tank tops or sleeveless shirts).
Women must wear skirts or pants extending at least to the knee, and also should not wear any type of clothing that is not appropriate. Visitors are allowed to take photographs in any area of the complex, so be sure to bring your own camera.
We recommend you wear shoes that can be easily removed as you’ll be taking them on and off as you enter different buildings around the temple. You should definitely have a bottle of water (trust us: you’ll need it). You can buy it at the stores near the Reclining Buddha temple or you can bring your own